This Toledo Startup is Empowering Musicians Through the Metaverse

versebooks logo and nft coin illustration

How VerseBooks is harnessing the power of NFTs and blockchain tech

Across the tech world, Web3 concepts like NFTs, blockchain and the metaverse are dominating conversations about the new era of the internet and a new understanding of ownership. And while artists and programmers are likely very aware of the potential of those technologies, the music industry seems yet to capitalize on its potential. That’s where Toledo’s VerseBooks comes in. The startup was originally founded as a way to convert MP3s into NFTs, but has introduced its own metaverse to start a new era for the company.

“VerseBooks is an NFT marketplace where we’ve also created a product called metaverse as a service,” said Co-founder and CEO Delence Sheares. “Everyone is trying to get into the metaverse, but there hasn’t been any technological infrastructure laid to enable a novice or someone who has no experience in coding or anything of that nature and wants their own private metaverse experience. I liken us to a Shopify for metaverses. If you want to have an eCommerce store, you can go to Shopify and set up your own B2B and B2C models. Essentially, that’s what we’ve created with MetaVerseBooks. It’s the Shopify of metaverses powered by NFTs.”

VerseBooks knew that they had something with their idea to turn MP3s into NFTs, creating an NFT marketplace that they could scale up. But as they watched the concept of a metaverse start to catch on, they decided to create their own, providing tools for companies, artists and brands to interact with one another and their customers. With MetaVerseBooks, they’ll have a virtual world with 50,000 parcels of land that they hope will give artists a new platform to expand their creativity and their reach.

“The world of blockchain technology hasn’t been ubiquitously adopted in the music industry yet,” Sheares said. “However, the music industry is one of the largest that really connects everybody from art, film and entertainment. There’s nothing that you can do that doesn’t encompass some type of music engagement with it. So a lot of these music artists don’t really own their brand — they don’t own their audience. Even if you have 20 million followers and are a megastar on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, you don’t own that. So we’ve created the infrastructure to provide music creators, whether you’re Katy Perry, Kendrick Lamar or the starving artist next door, to have your own infrastructure and metaverse, so you can actually own your audience.”

For Sheares and the VerseBooks team, the timing of their venture couldn’t be better. Not only are they on the cutting edge of their technology, but the world knows enough about that tech that they can capitalize on a more informed customer base. Their goal is to ride the wave of similar concepts that are widely known while providing exactly what they want.

“It’s all about embracing the consumer psychology about blockchain and NFTs,” Sheares said. “Facebook is spending so much money to educate and make the general consumer comfortable with what a metaverse is, and it’s allowed companies such as ours to be able to move in without paying for that education. The big money is already being generated. There was $25 billion worth of NFT investments just from VCs alone last year in an industry that’s only still in its infant stages. So we believe that we’ve been able to capitalize off of where the world is with NFTs and blockchain.”

Sheares wants to bring that huge market to the artists who create the content that drives the music industry. Rather than putting power in distributors’ hands, he hopes that VerseBooks and their metaverse can provide a platform to boost musicians.

“In the music industry, artists are normally the last ones to be able to take advantage of the technology,” he said. “The labels, distributors and publishers come in first, all of the incumbents who have all of the social equity and financial equity and capital to move the needle. But the artists and the true creators, who are the foundation of the industry, are always left out. We’re bringing the culture into the technology as opposed to the technology misappropriating the culture’s involvement. It’s always been top-down instead of bottom-up. We want to enable the culture to be able to embrace the tech, not just be a part of it.”

With huge financial numbers floating around, it’s easy to see why VerseBooks feels their ceiling is high. Buoying those expectations are a variety of partnerships they’ve forged and are working on, including peer-to-peer payments technology company Circle, communications infrastructure services company Winsonic, AI company BrainRap, AI and blockchain experts Accubits and the goal of partnering with Universal Music Group to connect with their artists. The company has lofty goals, and their Toledo home gives them confidence in what they can build.

“Ohio has a rich history in tech, but we’re also the glass capital of the world and Toledo is a city of less than 250,000 people with six Fortune 500 company world headquarters and a history of tech, art and music,” he said. “When you converge all of those things, you can make it in Toledo. Being on a coast or in a big city doesn’t automatically bring credibility or automatically make you a unicorn. We’re real, down-to-earth people who work hard and want to bring credibility and visibility to the heart of America, which is Ohio.”

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