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EDM industry veteran Cynthia Cao talks about ‘Entertainment 3.0’ and the future of Web3 music artists

Cynthia Cao chatted about how building a parallel entertainment industry – ‘Entertainment 3.0’ – can help underrepresented artists thrive and monetize their brand in Web3.

Cynthia Cao
Cynthia Cao. Photo Courtesy of Starseed DAO
Cynthia Cao. Photo Courtesy of Starseed DAO

EDM industry veteran Cynthia Cao chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about how building a parallel entertainment industry – ‘Entertainment 3.0’ – can help underrepresented artists thrive and monetize their brand in Web3.

Web3, at the most basic level, represents the next phase of the Internet, providing for a decentralized environment where platforms and apps built on Web3 aren’t owned by a central gatekeeper – and instead, by its users who will earn their respective ownership stakes in helping develop, expand, and maintain those services.

Cao, an artist herself, believes that in building out Web3, it requires a shift in mindset – moving away from the entertainment industry’s ‘top-down’ hierarchy and into a ‘bottom-up’ approach, focusing on underrepresented artists first.

“We want to demonstrate that you don’t need to be a previously established artist to make it in the metaverse, enabling a bottoms-up revolution that destroys past inequalities and levels the playing field,” Cao told Digital Journal.

According to Cao, the industry is already starting to repeat bad habits as it dips its toes into the Metaverse, bringing in already established artists who have all the resources to open up another stream of revenue – at the expense of artists looking to be seen and heard.

“The two biggest problems right now for artists are discoverability and funding,” she said, referencing the hurdles that many have to overcome with platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube blocking the pathway.

Continuing, she said that “[w]e’re applying the exact same business model in Web2, where the old gatekeepers are still there, but wearing a different suit. By looking at the industry from a ‘bottom-up’ perspective, rather than the ‘top-down’ pyramid artists have been accustomed to since the beginning, creators no longer have to choose between forfeiting ownership rights in exchange for funding, and can instead concentrate on how to continue creating in a coordinated space where everyone owns a piece of the pie.”

Cao is also the founder and CEO of Starseed DAO, one of the entertainment industry’s first Web3 talent labels that resides in the Metaverse – providing the bridge for new, rising artists to come and build their brand without fear or competing against already established Web2 artists that have those resources – funding, network, management, etc.

With over 12 years of experience in the entertainment industry, Cao began her career as an EDM event planner, throwing parties for students in colleges throughout the United States – inviting top 100 DJs like Bassjackers, R3HAB, KSHMR, Jauz, and Marshmello, and bringing them back to China to help spread the EDM culture.

After completing an internship with Redlight Management, Cao’s growth and experience as a music manager eventually led to her creating the embodiment of the artist she always wanted to be, but never could due to cultural restrictions and taboo — CCIsDreaming.

“It was my dream to be an artist, but I faced many restrictions culturally, as well as what society thought I should be. So, I gave that dream to CC, and she will symbolize that struggle and represent the hope and power Entertainment 3.0 can provide to others.

Back in December, CC made her live debut at Miami’s Art Basel as the first “metaversed artist” that according to Cao, is more than just her alter-ego – but is “the embodiment of a minority female amalgam of Eastern and Western culture, whose music consists of electric airy sonic palettes with deep and dark avant-garde lyrics – encouraging fans to look through duality and redefine their own reality.”

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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