Snoop Dogg Wants To Make Death Row Records ‘An NFT Label’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Snoop Dogg
Image courtesy of Death Row Records

Snoop Dogg wants to make Death Row Records the first major record label in the metaverse.

The legendary Long Beach-born rapper announced this week that Death Row “will be an NFT label,” just days after acquiring the Los Angeles record label that launched his career and put West Coast hip-hop on the worldwide map. The announcement marks Snoop’s latest foray into blockchain technology, which has been quickly embraced by many in the music industry.

“We will be putting out artists through the metaverse,” Snoop said on social audio app Clubhouse. “Just like we broke the industry when we were the first independent to be major, I want to be the first major in the metaverse.”

Snoop purchased the Death Row Records brand last week, for an undisclosed amount, from a music group controlled by investment giant Blackstone. The label, co-founded in 1991 by producer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young and executive Marion “Suge” Knight, helped Snoop become a mainstream star in the 1990s through albums like Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” and Snoop’s solo debut “Doggystyle.” Snoop (whose real name is Calvin Broadus Jr.) called the Death Row acquisition “an extremely meaningful moment for me.”

On the same day that the Death Row deal was announced last week, Snoop released his new album “B.O.D.R. (Bacc on Death Row)” as a “stash box” of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Only 25,000 Snoop stash boxes, priced at $5,000 each, were available on the Gala Games blockchain platform. Each stash box included one of 17 NFTs devoted to each track from the album; fans that collected all 17 NFTs would be eligible for rewards like the chance to party at Snoop’s L.A. mansion, according to Gala.

Death Row NFTImage courtesy of Death Row Records

Musicians and celebrities have flocked to NFTs—digital assets that are verified by blockchain technology, giving their owners proof of authenticity and ownership. Some industry observers believe the crypto collectibles could become a big revenue stream for musicians at a time when tours are still hampered by the pandemic and the music business is adapting to the economics of streaming.

On Thursday, Universal Music Group unveiled a partnership with NFT platform Curio, which will be an official outlet for NFT projects from Universal's record labels and artists. The Santa Monica-based music conglomerate is “focused on developing new opportunities in this space that place our artists and labels at the forefront,” Universal executive vice president of digital strategy Michael Nash said in a statement.

Even in an industry filled with crypto converts, Snoop has become one of Web3’s biggest enthusiasts: He has reportedly amassed $17 million worth of NFT holdings.

“If anything is constant, it’s that the music industry will always be changing,” Snoop said in a statement earlier this month. “Blockchain tech has the power to change everything again and tip the table in favor of the artists and the fans.”

Last week, Snoop Dogg was sued for the alleged sexual assault of a woman in 2013. The rapper’s camp denied the claims.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.