VEZT Wants You to be Able to Own Shares of Your Favorite Songs 6 2887

Mr. Cheeks has been producing music since the early 90s, under the mentorship of his late uncle, the legendary Gil Scott-Heron. He started with the Lost Boyz, won a Grammy for his work with Stephen Marley, and has released a handful of solo albums since.

Now, royalties for his singles will be available to his fans, thanks to the blockchain. Mr. Cheeks’ songs will be available on a platform that allows fans and investors to claim a slice of the rights to pop music they believe in. When the song is licensed for use, in advertising or film for example, you, the investor, get a cut.

It’s made possible through an app called VEZT, which is positioning itself to revolutionize the way music relates to money as the world’s “first music rights marketplace.” VEZT partnered with a long time Mr. Cheeks producer, Bink, to offer shares of the song “Lights, Camera, Action” which is currently available on the company’s website.

The Problem of Selling Music

Mixing music and markets is an old problem. How should musicians get paid? Who pays them? What about their support teams? How do we keep track of the flow of money and make sure everyone’s fairly compensated? Among the music world’s financial obstacles, one of the biggest issues is navigating licensing and royalties.

In Austin, for example, one of America’s most proficient music hubs, almost a third of musicians make less than minimum wage, and 70 percent are earning less than $10k per year on their work. That’s below the poverty line even for a household of one. It’s been like pulling teeth trying to get royalties from companies like Spotify, who generate income off their songs. Meanwhile even more expensive lawsuits pile up, or go completely unpursued from lack of funds, as marketers continue to ape good music with copyright infringing fakes. It’s a constant headache for musicians, producers and labels, and it makes it prohibitive to eke out a living in the music world.

Under VEZT’s model, royalties are simple. Music is intellectual property owned by the artist. The artist can sell a portion of those rights to fans, who become investors when they purchase a percentage of shares. Fans and musicians make an agreement to co-own the songs they both care so much about. If you love a song and want to see it do well, you invest. If it does well, you have a share in the artist’s success. Royalties are split based on percentage of ownership.

The concept comes from cofounders Robert Menendez, a former Wall St. financial trader/analyst, and Steve Stewart, an industry regular with entrepreneurial tendencies, whose accomplishments include ushering Stone Temple Pilots to fame in the early ‘90s and managing the band for a decade. They say they founded VEZT as part of a vision to “detangle a lot of the financial problems in the music industry, and connect fans more directly with the music they love.”

And now, they’ve expanded across the Pacific from VEZT’s headquarters in Los Angeles, and opened an office in South Korea.

‘The Perfect Environment’

“The fans of music in Korea are quite possibly the most enthusiastic and active fans on the planet,” says Stewart. “Combine this with a robust tech community and a government leading the way in adopting blockchain technologies and you have a perfect environment for VEZT.”

The ROK’s new legislation legitimizing crypto exchange, Dapps, and blockchain systems will take the peninsula farther into a brave new technological world, where many others have so far feared to tread. Combined with their now-world-famous maximalist pop industry, and it’s not hard to see why VEZT moved in.

Construction recently finished on their new 2500 square foot office in the Gangnam district of Seoul. VEZT has enlisted a host of professionals to their C-Suite, including veterans of major Korean record labels, Kpop producers, marketing and PR executives and, of course, tech experts.

Fixing Music With Blockchain

If their model works in Seoul and LA, VEZT could bring a more harmonious rhythm to an industry still trying to find its groove in the digital age. The world needs music, and musicians need to get paid. As with anything blockchain, cutting out some of the middlemen could be the Occam’s razor with the solution. When fans are directly invested in their music, everyone will want to see it succeed.

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Tina Mulqueen is the founder of The Block Talk and the CEO of Kindred PR. She consults with blockchain projects on marketing and public relations strategy, helping clients to secure more than $10M in funding. She is a 2x Top 100 Women in Media honoree and was named one of the top young communications professionals by INC Magazine. She's an advocate for women in technology, and often speaks about the intersection of technology, media & marketing. She writes regularly for Entrepreneur, and has written for Forbes, Huffington Post, Today, Thrive Global, Elite Daily, New York Lifestyles Magazine, and more.


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Why Are Some Gamers Against NFTs? Comments Off on Why Are Some Gamers Against NFTs? 509

From Gen Z Corner, The Block Talk’s interns tackle topics from the perspective of young consumers.

On December 15 of last year, Game World, the developers for the widely- anticipated S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 videogame, announced that the game would be entering the metaverse. The implementation, they said in a tweet which has since been deleted, would not impact gameplay and would be optional for players. One day later, due to massive backlash and pre-order cancellation threats, Game World sent another tweet announcing that they reversed their stance on these changes. 

And Game World isn’t the only gaming brand that had second thoughts about introducing NFTs. Just this year, Forbes reported that game publishing giant EA had backtracked on their major NFT projects. Another major publisher, Ubisoft, similarly experienced pushback from the gaming community after pursuing their own NFTs which are called digits. Digits are digital assets that can be used in Ubisoft’s games. They’re stored in Ubisoft Quartz, which is effectively a digital wallet. These NFTs can then be bought and sold on marketplaces using Tezos cryptocurrency on the XTZ blockchain. Ubisoft Quartz’s announcement video was so controversial for gamers that it initially garnered a 96% dislike on YouTube. 

Why Are Some Gamers Anti-NFT? 

One reason gamers are so adamantly against NFTs is because they see them as another way publishers can get away with giving them an ‘incomplete’ game. Many gamers have grown weary of microtransactions in games, which are seen as a way for developers to nickel-and-dime the consumer. Microtransactions are encouraged for downloadable content (DLCs for short), that include the sale of in-game content, expansions, character skins, digital art, and more. In other words, NFTs if they are minted on a blockchain.  

Another concern is that NFTs will utilize lootbox mechanics. A lootbox is a container with undetermined contents from a pool of obtainable items. Like in a slot machine, getting your desired outcome is not guaranteed, but the prospect is addictive. Lootboxes have been widely-debated for their link to gambling addiction, and the implementation of lootboxes has been banned in some countries, including the Netherlands. 

However, even though some gamers are opposed to the notion of in-game NFTs, the community has historically embraced the general concept. Steam, the biggest digital video game distribution platform has a community market where NFT-like digital assets for games are bought, sold and traded regularly, much like any NFT marketplace today. The main difference being that Steam is centralized, and it does not permit cryptocurrency purchases or use a blockchain of any kind. 

Gamers, knowingly or not, have been using digital assets for close to a decade, though many are still feverishly against NFTs. There’s likely a path forward for NFTs in the context of games, but gamers and developers have a way to go to ensure mutual value. Surely, with the right set up or incentive, gamers, NFTs and the blockchain technology that enables them will be accepted as the norm and enjoyed within games. 

Stakester Brings New Experiences and Royalties to Gamers with NFTs Comments Off on Stakester Brings New Experiences and Royalties to Gamers with NFTs 563

A cheat code NFT allows owners to accrue money, prizes and royalties in the context of popular games.

On Tuesday, Stakester announced its intention to launch a VIP pass in the form of NFTs that it says will enhance the experience for users of its popular gaming app. 

The app, which pairs gamers with real-life opponents, allows players to stake real cash and prizes on their competitive skills in popular games like FIFA 21 and Call of Duty: Warzone. It’s seen significant growth since its launch in 2020, and touts 100,000 members across 31 countries. 

With the forthcoming NFT drop, users will now unlock the potential for larger prizes, access to VIP arenas, and 50% of royalties on the secondary market.

“The NFTs embody Stakester’s vision of delivering electrifying gaming experiences through the thrill of competition,” says Tom Fairey, Founder and CEO of Stakester. “NFT holders will help us shape new, undreamt-of entertainment experiences as gaming becomes ever more powerful and immersive.”

Two levels of NFTs will be offered. At .1 and .25 ETH, respectively, the barrier to entry is high, but Stakester is hoping gamers will see the value of layered experiences and unlocking additional incentives with real-world value. 

“The idea of earning rewards, just like a normal reward scheme but built around NFTs, is totally fit for the future,” says Mike White, CEO and Strategist of immersive entertainment marketing agency, Lively.  “The whole idea of royalties is truly exciting.” 

Stakester’s 50% royalty incentive, Fairey believes, will create stakeholders out of the players on his platform.

 “As well as the increase in gaming utility, the NFT drops provide Stakester users with a chance to invest in the future of the company and, for VIP Legendary holders, there’s also an opportunity to benefit from a royalty share from certain competitions and to make a passive income from NFTs, regardless of whether they go up in value or not,” he says. “Stakester is one of the only platforms to offer this kind of bonus.”

White points out that Gala Games is doing something similar with Nodes which allow gamers to receive rewards like NFTs when they contribute meaningfully to the Gala Network.

He predicts that legacy gaming companies will be adopting similar NFT models, but the winners in the NFT gaming race are hard to predict, particularly since there’s so much attention around NFTs that it’s hard to differentiate between hype and long-term value. 

“I’m sure it will be an immediate success,” he says. “Will it be a long-term thing? We can only wait and see.”

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