Three Black creators are offering NFTs tied to holograms of themselves performing the iconic dance moves they pioneered that spread through social media and sparked discussion over how to compensate digital performers.
The "Renegade" took social media by storm in 2020. TikTok's biggest stars and millions of others uploaded videos of themselves performing the dance. But the routine's then-14-year-old creator, Jalaiah Harmon, told the New York Times she didn't get credit for the dance nor any income that could have come with it. Later her viral dance became a Fortnite emote that players could buy for their characters to perform, but any licensing arrangement made with Harmon was not made public.
As of today, Harmon's dance, along with Cookie Kawaii's "Throw it Back" and Blanco Brown's "The Git Up," have collectively been viewed on TikTok over 10 billion times, but monetizing their creations has been challenging.
Working with La Cañada-based AR production house Jadu, and their Culver City-based studio partner Metastage, the three creators have each made a hologram of themselves performing their dances. These will be sold at auction as NFTs on Juneteenth on NFT marketplace OpenSea,.
One NFT has been minted for each of the three holograms. The creators will receive a majority percentage of the auction sale, along with a percentage of any secondary sales. Jadu will receive minority percentages.
Black creators not getting properly compensated has sparked controversy over how to properly give credit in the fragmented, copycat world of user-generated media. NFTs present one way forward, and doing so was a big motive for Jadu.
NFTs allow creators to retain an ongoing stake in a digital asset. Smart contracts can automatically reroute a percentage of any secondary sale to a creator's account.
"We were really looking to find artists that have been either overlooked or have not received the appropriate cultural and financial compensation," said Jadu chief operating officer Jake Sally. "Everyone should know who Jalaiah, Blanco Brown, and Cookie Kawaii are."
The three holograms will be available for use on the Jadu app, which allows users to interact with holographic celebrities and create free videos that can be shared across social media. Owners of the three NFTs will be displayed on the app.
Sally said enabling people to use these holograms should help the value of their associated NFTs increase over time – value that the creators can capture through their perpetual stake in any secondary sales.
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Sharon Town Lee ripped off a cluster of laminated public health flyers from the front window of her pet grooming salon in Santa Monica Tuesday.
It's June 15, the day widespread mask mandates and social distancing protocols in California become concepts of the past.
Sports fans and concert goers can now scream into the air. At Disneyland, visitors can again wait in long lines and crowd around princesses as the park expands its capacity limits.
Under state protocols, vaccinated individuals are no longer required to cover their faces at gyms, in the grocery store or other indoor settings — minus a few exceptions.
And many business owners including Town Lee are letting customers inside mask-free, without checking vaccination records.
Sharon Town Lee ripped off a cluster of laminated public health flyers from the front window of her pet grooming salon in Santa Monica.Photo by Francesca Billington
"It's not our responsibility to show whether you've been vaccinated," said Town Lee, who chairs the local business district spanning Pico Boulevard and gave her employees incentives to get vaccinated.
The state's updates come as a relief. Town Lee, who is hearing impaired, can read her customers' lips again. While her small shop was largely empty in the morning, most people walking along the business district wore masks.
Private businesses can now pick between one of three state protocols: require all patrons to wear a mask, trust customers who say they've gotten the shot or establish a "vaccination verification process."
"It's a sensitive thing to ask people," said Rod Martinez, a supervisor at Literati Cafe in Los Angeles. "So we're not."
The question of enforcement remains murky — not to mention optional.
Last week, Newsom hinted at a new state-endorsed verification system to help private businesses hoping to check. SFGate reported that it'll look like a digital vaccine card designed to replace the paper ones issued by pharmacies and doctors.
How — and even if — stores and restaurants will ask customers to prove vaccination credentials is up to them, Newsom said. The governor was quick to remind viewers that his tech system isn't a so-called vaccine "passport," messaging that echoes tech startups like Healthvana.
"There's no mandates, no requirements, no passports in that respect," Newsom said during a press briefing Friday after drawing more winners for the state's cash vaccine incentive program.
Some business owners worry that requiring masks could turn off potential customers. Town Lee said that it almost feels like discriminating against people who don't want to be vaccinated for a variety of reasons.
At Ace Hardware in West L.A. store manager Brian Peacock said that three hours after opening, only one customer stepped inside without a mask.
"He walked in and said, 'I'm vaccinated!'" said Peacock. "For the most part, everybody has been wanting to wear a mask."
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Beginning Tuesday, vaccinated people can go maskless at concerts, sports events and indoor performance venues. L.A. County health officials made the announcement Thursday, opening the door for a return to a pre-pandemic summer.
More than half (54%) of L.A. County residents over 16 had been fully vaccinated, and 65% had received at least one dose as of June 7, according to the public health department.
Unvaccinated people will still be required to wear a mask indoors, but just how that will be enforced is being left to the discretion of businesses. Retailers may still opt to require all patrons to wear masks and health officials still advise frequent hand washing as children under 12 are still unable to get inoculated.
Still, signs of a post-pandemic summer are here. The Hollywood Bowl began selling season passes and has a packed lineup. The Music Center said it plans on announcing a slew of outdoor music and live events for the summer. For their outdoor summer dance series, "Dance at Dusk," vaccinated patrons can go maskless, but need not show proof.
The county is strongly recommending unvaccinated patrons wear masks at so-called mega-events outdoors with more than 5,000 people. And it requires employees who can't maintain a social distance outside stay masked up.
At the Music Center, operators were still figuring out what the guidelines would mean for indoor concerts and performances.
"We follow the guidelines for how you need to show proof and accept that the proof is the proof. You do the best you can do," said Howard Sherman, chief operating officer at The Music Center, which runs the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theater and Grand Park.
Sherman said he has concerns about the reliability of vaccine verification and people being upfront about their status, but that there's only so much venues can do.
The Los Angeles Football Club, which opened up vaccinated sections last month, has been requiring patrons to show a vaccine card, a picture of it or a digital version before entering the section. It will be returning to full capacity on June 19th.
The county guidelines largely follow those set by the state earlier this week. Masks will still be required in public transit and rideshare vehicles, transportation hubs and healthcare facilities regardless of vaccination status.
Venues' calculus for deciding how stringent to be – whether to require masks or enforce capacity limits, for instance – will likely aim to strike what Julie Baker, who leads advocacy group Californians for the Arts, calls a "balance of commerce and public health."
Among the first sectors to be fully shut down, live entertainment venues' bottom lines have been battered by the pandemic. Baker said that early on, most venue operators fully supported prioritizing safety, but as the pandemic dragged on the angst and economic damage mounted.
She said after so long, many are anxious to get back to pre-pandemic days.
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