The Rising Musicians Taking Over The NFT And Web3 Space

Based on last year’s reported gross sales of vinyl records, it would be safe to assume that vintage music technology is making a coming back. However, this doesn’t seem to be slowing down the industry-shifting moves happening in the metaverse, on Web3, and with NFTs. Big-name acts such as Snoop Dogg, Gorillaz, SZA, Sia, Steve Aoki, Styles P, and Grimes have all raved about the mediums. Some even racked in tens of thousands of dollars in the process. Hell, even music platforms Spotify, Limewire, and the beloved music festival Coachella have jumped on board. But they aren’t the only entities benefitting from these creative havens.

Many technologically savvy musicians, producers, and DJs are no longer seeking deals (recording, publishing, or otherwise) with major record labels. Instead, they’re leveraging their independence to explore the larger financial payouts that the metaverse, NFTs, and Web3 have made possible. For the novice, it is important to define these terms to drive home just how innovative these tech and music intersections are. In layman’s terms, the metaverse is a 3-D virtual reality that exists in tandem with the world we live in today, just without the restrictions of physics or geography. Musicians can host concerts, meet-and-greets, and more for fans across the world in real-time, all for a fraction of the cost.

As for Web3, put plainly, it is a decentralized internet powered by blockchain where the power remains with the individual (who owns the data). The public internet in use today is referred to as Web2. Web3 is the tech container or infrastructure, and in most cases, there is a cost of admission to enter these digital gates. Cash will be of no use to you, you need to pay via a non-fungible token (NFT). Contributing writer Dane Rivera defined them best. NFTs are cryptocurrencies stored on the blockchain. NFTs are self-defined but, most importantly, “valued independently from one another,” meaning the individual creator of the token determines the value. Whereas in the world of tangible currency, for example, the value of the American dollar can fluctuate depending on the global markets.

The NFT and Web3 music spaces are still relatively new in the grand scheme of things. So, when considering rising artists for this list, only independent recording artists were considered. DJs and producers were not considered. Other qualifying criteria included the number of collections available for purchase, total gross income earned from their public collections, and overall impact on the community.

Although they did not make the cut, there are two honorable mentions that are important to list. Firstly, Nigerian-American recording artist MoRuf. The New Jersey native found underground success in the early 2010s with the release of his 2013 project, Shades of Moo. The album birthed the cult-classic track “Homie.Lover.Friend,” which featured singer Jesse Boykins III. Over time MoRuf’s follow-ups became few and far between. However, after becoming a husband and a father, he made a slightly more consistent return to music in the Web3 space with the single “Canal Street.” The success of the track led to a collaboration with Snoop Dogg on his mixtape Death Row Session: Vol. 2 (420 Edition) in 2022.

Next, no list of artists in the Web3 or NFT space is complete with a nod, even if it’s subtle, to Chinese-American alt-pop singer and producer Yunice. The Brooklyn-born, Macau-raised musician has had many stage names in her career, including Eunice and Wobble Wong, but the one thing that has remained the same is her passion for the art. Since as early as 2015, Yunice has kept her head down performing across the city. Eventually, earning sync placements with brands like 7Up and Walgreens, as well as movies such as Hooking Up, starring Brittany Snow and Sam Richardson. In Web3, Yunice has cultivated an infectious blend of emo and pop for the ultimate sad-girl soundtrack.

Continue below to see the full list in alphabetical order according to the artist’s name.


Aly, previously known as Lackhoney, is a Nashville native with Indian and Pakistani roots. His goal of founding fame in Music City came with a list of challenges, but none of which had to do with talent. Infamously known as the home of country music, the Muslim rapper and producer had his work cut out for him battling racial prejudice, islamophobia, and musical shunning. In nearly a decade since entering the music industry, with a few singles and a project, Sweets to his name, in Aly’s eyes, he hadn’t moved the needle enough both professionally and financially to continue down the entertainment path. Despite having millions of streams on track, such as “Love’s Like Drumming,” financial insecurity was still an ongoing battle. But after discovering Web3 around September 2022, he uploaded his older work. The eager music community immediately sunk their teeth into it, earning him a decent financial cushion to fuel his pursuits moving forward.

During an appearance on Impromptu by Huddln Radio, Aly shared how Web3 has fueled his musical pursuit since transitioning from Lackhoney to what he is now known as. “It was a time when I was at my absolute lowest. There were so many doubts about whether or not I was going to make music in the future — if I was going to give up after eight years of pursuing it. I just had no more gas in my engine at all. I went through every emotion,” said Aly before adding, “Web3 has been the biggest part of why [returning to music with the release of Sweets 2] has been possible.”

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In a hip-hop climate hyper-fixated on the culture’s latest subgenre, drill, it would seem that its antithesis, conscious rap, would be a dying art form. However, that won’t be the case if Takoma Park, Maryland native Heno has anything to do with it. Having collaborated with artists such as JPEGMAFIA and Mick Jenkins, the Ethiopian-Eritrean rapper, and producer was well on his way to becoming an underground fixture. But after discovering Web3, Heno was able to expand beyond the underground while doubling down on his goal of creating an impact with his music. Through his music, Heno is bridging together the diaspora from the US to Ethiopia. His latest Web3 release, “Neybors” featuring Elujay and J.Robb, has set a new standard for rap drops in the community.

When talking about his experience with Web3, Heno wrote on Twitter, “What I love about Web3 is the ability to experiment with so many amazing tools to showcase my art. It pushes me to find new ways of releasing in a more intentional way than ever before.”

In an interview NFTNow, Heno drilled home the same point, “Obviously, I get paid more in Web3 than I got paid for streaming numbers. That’s great, but that’s the short-sighted benefit,” as the musician’s overall goal is to build a self-sustaining community. This is seen in his activism work for several social issues, including police brutality, prison reform, and more. Heno also appeared on Snoop Dogg’s Death Row Session: Vol. 2 (420 Edition) mixtape, which was released in 2022.

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Iman Europe

Put plainly, Inglewood, California singer and songwriter Iman Europe is one of the most celebrated Web3 music creators. Iman has served as an advocate for other musicians looking to enter the Web3 space. Whether she’s speaking on panels (Essence Fest, SXSW, NFT LA, or NFT NYC) regarding the importance of exploring NFTs and Web3 as a musician or uploading short video explainers on social media, Iman has screamed from the mountain tops to anyone who’d listen since discovering the community in 2021. Iman’s fierce championing for the space has been rewarded in many ways, including being named Dequency’s cohort fellow for Web3 sync licensing.

Iman has seen mainstream success dating back as early as 2018, after songs from her debut album, Nami, were prominently featured on Issa Rae’s hit show Insecure on HBO, the movie Nappily Ever After starring Sanaa Lathan on Netflix, and Disney’s TV series Good Trouble. She’s worked with Dave East, Sango, Zyah Belle, and more. However, despite her visibility, Iman shared that popularity and financial security aren’t mutually exclusive. During an interview with Bloomberg, Iman Europe revealed, “I had one person buy my song for the amount it would have taken a million streams to get.”

Instead of crafting her work to fit into the algorithm on different streaming platforms, Iman has been able to earn well above a livable wage after prioritizing NFTs and Web3 as the mediums for her art. Iman Europe also appears on Snoop Dogg’s Death Row Session: Vol. 2 (420 Edition) mixtape, which was released in 2022.

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When you think of Web3 or NFT as it relates to music, the first artist to pop up in your mind should be LATASHÁ. The rapper, producer, and multimedia artist has, through her work as head of community programming at Zora, ushered in a new wave of musical talent. As a veteran musician and prominent figure in the independent New York music scene for the better part of a decade, LATASHÁ knows the ins and outs of navigating a career in music.

The Brooklyn native, now Los Angeles-based talent, has been featured in several viral freestyle cyphers. She held down artist residency at both the Brooklyn Museum and National Sawdust, as well as earned sync placements in Netflix’s Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker starring Octavia Spencer and on Freeform’s Grown-ish starring Yara Shahidi. The Afro-Latina has also been heard in several commercials for Ulta Beauty while being one of the faces of ATT’s Codes of Culture campaign. If that wasn’t enough, LATASHÁ has also appeared on Issa Rae’s record label Raedio’s EP The Bank Roll, all the while racking up co-signs by rap pioneers Lil Kim, Timbaland, and Missy Elliott.

Still, even with all of the success, LATASHÁ battled financial security while feeling restricted by what type of her art would be palatable enough to earn money. However, after diving into Web3, she found that all of her art (abstract visual, video, audio, and more) could live in harmony. She was one of the first artists to bring in over $10k for a music video to blockchain. After turning down multiple record label deals, LATASHÁ has found a lane all her own, without comprising her art while retaining ownership.

“Web3 has completely shifted my existence,” said LATASHÁ during an interview with NFTNow. “I was a struggling artist trying to figure this thing out, and when I got [into Web3], I felt like something healing within me. We’re finding wellness for artists again,” said the musician.

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Rae Isla

Many artists in the Web3 and NFT spaces had years of experience in Web2 before making the transition. Singer Rae Isla is the complete opposite, coming into her own as an artist while simultaneously navigating NFTs. Although the songwriter’s debut EP, No Longer Blue, was released in 2018, it wasn’t until her follow-up project 2021’s Another Life that Rae started to see a response in turns of career mobility. This was seen in her official music video for the single “Just Because,” earning constant rotation on MTV Latin America.

In just a few short years, Rae has found a way to innovate the way in which she approaches her career. Sonically she blends together country, Americana, and pop influences into her releases. Rae uses this same creative fusion approach in her exploration of NFTs featuring audio work, visual works, and live performances in her collections available for mint. When Rae always aims high, her most ambitious NFT project was to mint over 1,000 pieces of creative works (currently at 600 items minted). Also, after setting out to tour her latest project, the singer incorporated a collectible wallet from each of her tour stops.

During one of her performances, the singer took a moment to explain why the music NFT space is important. In the clip uploaded to Instagram, she says, “This what we’re doing in Web3 — we’re exchanging, we’re not transacting. I don’t need you to buy that song… I need you to buy something. Because I gotta keep the lights. But because we’re being supported in some way, we can share in all ways.”

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Reo Cragun

Reo Cragun is no stranger to the music industry. The musician’s alternative rap and R&B major label debut 2017 single “Inconsiderate” gained traction granting him the opportunity to tour alongside Lil Yachty and Billie Eilish. Even after parting ways with his former label, Capitol Records, due to creative issues, the melodic rapper continued his buzz working with Grammy Award-winning producer Flume. Along the way, Reo even earned a co-sign from the late rapper Nippy Hussle.

Now, in the Web3 space, Reo has tapped back into his creative side, all while racking in high earnings. Reo, as part of the Web3 dream team, consisting of himself and frequent collaborator producer Daniel Allan have pumped out tracks like “Stars” and “Spent.” During an interview on the podcast, Mint (Where Crypto Meets Creators) hosted by journalist Adam Levy, Reo spoke about being introduced to Web3. “David Greenstein, one of the co-founders of Sound.XYZ told me about this idea that he was, ‘[we’re] going to launch [Sound soon]’ and ‘its the future of music,’ and I was like, ‘This is so sick.’ [Web3] is everything that I’ve been looking for.”

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Sammy Arriaga

Cuban-American country music artist Sammy Arriaga has had his lifelong goal of being a mainstream singer slip through his hands on two occasions. Firstly, after being knocked out of the runnings on season 10 of the reality music competition show American Idol. Secondly, when he was dropped from Sony Records. However, the Miami native did not let that stop him from finding his own way in Nashville.

During his appearance on The New Music Business podcast hosted by Ari Herstand, he spoke about how being dropped from Sony Records worked in his creative favor. “It’s cool because I saw it as a compliment. I saw it as a compliment from above that [God] was saying, ‘Look, Sammy, I’m going to prove to you that you have what it takes to be on those labels. But I’m not going to lock you into a label.'”

After discovering Web3, Sammy became one of the space’s most impactful country stars. In less than two months, his 1500 METAGIRL Digital Hearts brought in more than $250,000 worth of music NFTs. When talking about how Web3 has changed his career, Sammy told Business Insider, “It’s safe to say Web3 is the best thing to ever happen in my music career thus far.”

“Ever since I immersed myself into Web3, I’ve been reignited and re-inspired. I never thought that being introduced to Web3 would impact me and my music career so greatly,” said the musician.

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TK is one of the highest-valued monthly trading independent R&B singers in the NFT space. But his value was always recognized. As a Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer, TK has worked on music for Will Smith, Rihanna, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber, to name a few superstars, but he found that he was being grossly undervalued.

During an interview with the Digital Punks – Der Music NFT Podcast, he said, “Just through being in different sessions with different labels and things of that nature, I started to see how artists and creatives were treated within the music industry. Typically, we are the last to get paid, and we get paid the least.”

After having a stark reality check after his tour in 2020 was rocked by the pandemic, he decided to take control of his financial earning potential outside of gigs. “I immersed myself in learning and Crypto and NFTs,” said TK.

Initially, he thought NFTs were “just Cryptopunks and Bored Apes” but was shocked to learn of the learning secondary music market. An associate of his revealed to him that he “ended up selling four songs for $235,000,” so TK was, as he stated, “locked in” after that. “I dropped my first music NFT on Sound called ‘Heaven On Earth’ on March 1, 2022, and it’s been an incredible ride since then,” TK told the outlet.

TK has gone on to drop several music NFTs projects, including a collection of 700 audiovisual NFTs called Eternal Garden. The singer, songwriter, and producer has quickly become one of the faces of R&B-centered NFT music drops.

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Vérité isn’t your typical NFT/Web3 love story. Although the alt-pop singer has shared stories of her time working as a waitress while she was earning her Bachelor of Arts in studio composition at SUNY Purchase in New York, the Brooklyn-based songwriter has consistently worked since 2013, collaborating with R3hab and Pussy Riot along the way. The musician has toured around the globe and has even performed at Firefly Festival and Lollapalooza. Vérité’s NFT journey is more so about keeping your pulse on the changing musical climate. As an independent recording artist, Vérité has been relatively successful, but after stepping into the NFT space, her story has begun to shine brighter.

Back in April 2021, the singer became the first artist to auction master recording rights in perpetuity via NFT for her song. Selling just 3.3% of her song “By Now,” Vérité reportedly earned $33,000, according to Business Insider.

In a piece that she penned for NFTNow, she shared that her goal isn’t much more important than money. “My strategy for access in Web3 is enhancing and rewarding behaviors and participation. Some of these behaviors are monetized (attending a show, purchasing merch, etc), but I believe in the future, we’ll be able to identify baseline participation and engagement, eliminating financial barriers for fans who don’t have means,” wrote the singer.

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Violetta Zironi

Violetta Zironi’s journey into the NFT space has been a decade in the making. After finding breakout success in 2013, after finishing third in The X Factor (Italy), the singer was fawned after for her signature use of the ukulele. “At the age of 18, my music career was blooming, and I signed to a major label. It being apparent that the label and I had different goals,” said Zironi in a statement before adding, “I wanted to make music that I deeply, deeply loved. The rawness of real instruments, the craft of hands, voice, and soul. That was what I was drawn to. The label wanted to follow the trends.”

Although the musician felt boxed in by what the label and the public expected from her, Zironi played along. “My work in Italy stopped in 2015, two years after X Factor. I played concerts, released singles, and rode the wave as much as possible. Then I said to myself: ‘I want to try and see what’s out there.'”

Zironi did work for a time as a composer and actress in 2018’s The Magic Flute and 2020’s Rose Island (Netflix). However, her breakout moments didn’t come until two years later. “At the beginning of 2022, everything changed. I discovered NFTs and a door to an unexplored world! I decided to jump in,” says the singer.

With two exclusively NFT albums to her name (Moonshot and Another Life), Zironi’s bet on herself and her creative passions paid off.

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