Brandon Doerrer
Apr 14, 2023

Mastercard launches Web3 educational program for emerging musicians

Chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar talks about the practical purpose of NFTs and moving beyond “vanity badges.”

(Photo credit: Mastercard)
(Photo credit: Mastercard)

Mastercard has launched a Web3 educational program for emerging musicians to learn how the technology can benefit their careers.

Five artists from different regions around the world will document their experiences going through the “Artist Accelerator” program: Venezuelan pop singer Manu Manzo, Nigerian R&B artist LeriQ, Brooklyn-based Jamaican singer Cocoa Sarai, Brit School Alumna Young Athena and pop-artist and LGBTQIA+ advocate Emily Vu.

Each will be paired with Web3 and music mentors and complete coursework that teaches the young musicians how to mint NFTs, how to market themselves using Web3 tech and how to price their work on the blockchain.

Artists will unlock access to the program through an NFT, enabling fans and other artists to follow along on their journey. 

“There are artists who are creating a lot of content but struggle to be discovered,” said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer and president of the healthcare business at Mastercard. “They struggle to market themselves and monetize their content. So what we thought is that we would create a platform which will begin to teach people who are artists how to create music using the latest tools and the technologies available.”

Mastercard’s idea to teach musicians about NFTs and other Web3 tech began with a desire to give artists greater ownership of their work, Rajamannar said. Artists often get a small cut of the revenue their work provides to record companies, publishers and streaming platforms like Spotify — an issue that has recently angered some consumers.

“As a fan today, [if] I buy a song created by an artist and I pay $1, hardly 30 cents goes to the artist,” Rajamannar said. “Those dynamics are significantly altered in the world of Web3 — the artist can get as much as 99 cents.”

Mastercard is building on a presence in music that it cultivated with an album release at Cannes and a sponsored Roblox activation around the Grammy’s last year, plus sponsorship of music festivals such as Ultra Europe, Jazz Fest and Sonic Latinoamérica, which took place in Decentraland.

Web3 allows artists to dictate how to market and monetize their content without relying on third parties, Rajamannar said.

Skepticism surrounding the longevity of Web3 tech, particularly NFTs and crypto, has picked up in recent months. But in the right circumstances, Rajamannar sees the new technology unlocking pathways for marketers in ways that few other tools and platforms can.

“If it’s purely for a vanity badge that you’re selling an NFT, it’s completely dependent on novelty that may wear off,” he said. “If we use NFTs with some utility behind it, meaning like a gated token, NFTs will open experiences that you can get only if you have that particular NFT.”

The brand is plenty experienced in Web3 with several NFT launches, a partnership with to simplify the NFT purchasing process and a dedicated crypto payment card program under its belt. That experience, combined with Mastercard’s presence in music, made pairing those areas of expertise an interesting solution to a problem its customers care about, Rajamannar said.

“These are two parallel things that are happening,” he said. “We ran an innovation challenge in the company and one team came up with the idea to say ‘why don’t we actually solve this problem? And to solve this problem, [Web3] could be a fantastic set of tools.’”

Campaign Asia

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