One of the slightly unnerving aspects of the last few years is how quickly new technologies have been strongly hyped as the Next Big Thing, and then seemingly dropped like a hot potato as attention moves to the next hot tech. Of course, technology moves in these kinds of cycles, but the last few years have seen a number of Next *Very* Big Things: concert livestreaming tech, live audio tech, NFTs, the Metaverse, web3, and now AI. (It affects music too: remember when sea shanties were all the rage?)
These rapid-hype-cycle sectors just mentioned have seen some abrupt closures: livestreaming platform Mandolin shut down yesterday less than two years after raising $12m; and this month Spotify shut down Spotify Live, its live audio Clubhouse-competitor, just two years after paying $65m for Betty Labs’ Locker Room (which became Spotify Live).
Web3 is now feeling the squeeze: a new Crunchbase report says that VC funding into web3 is slowing dramatically: it, “plummeted 82% year to year, dropping from $9.1 billion in Q1 of 2022 to only $1.7 billion,” in Q1 of this year. The number of deals struck has slumped too: from 770 in Q1 2022 to 333 in Q1 2023. It doesn’t seem long since music industry execs were “bullish on crypto” – so what does this rapid drop-off mean? Perhaps not that much: VC funding is “down in almost sector”, as the report points out. But the web3 sector has been especially hard-hit by a series of crypto scandals, such as the collapse of FTX. Perhaps this enforced cooling-off period is good for everyone; just as the plummet in NFT transactions allowed us to evaluate the true prospects of the tech.
None of this means that these technologies are *not* going to be really useful: we are very likely going to see some revolutionary, exciting and highly successful music products and businesses operating in all these sectors – especially in web3, where a new way of doing business is being built. People want live audio, they want live streams, and they like buying scarce virtual items. But if there’s one learning from all of this economic turmoil, perhaps it’s the same advice that Friar Laurence gave Romeo: “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”