Nov 02, 2023

Metalabel is creativity in multiplayer mode

Picture of Abram Dawson
Abram Dawson
Feature image for Metalabel is creativity in multiplayer mode

Metalabel is establishing new ways for creative people to release work together and support one another. In this piece, we’ll explore why Metalabel exists and how it takes advantage of off-the-shelf primitives like Splits to operate in a completely new design space.

It's no secret that most great things are created by small groups of motivated, creative people. And often, the products, services, and experiences that end up having the biggest impact start out on the fringe. Unfortunately, today’s financial institutions, with their high costs of entry and miles of red tape, aren’t designed to service the fringe. This is where metalabels come in.

Metalabels are groups of collaborators that work together to release projects revolving around shared interests. Think of them as ‘release clubs’ — people that come together to ideate, produce, and release projects together, either on a recurring or one-off basis.

Metalabel, the company that shares the same name, is a group of makers building the system that elegantly enables individual metalabels to flourish. Metalabel is bringing fringe experimentation into the mainstream by allowing groups of people to create economically and socially aligned collectives using immutable onchain primitives.

Why Metalabel exists

Would it make sense to set up a legal entity for an art project, research report, or song? Are creators setting themselves up for success with partnerships that rely on handshake agreements and Venmo payouts amongst collaborators? All else equal, will builders produce higher-quality work when they’re safely within the confines of a corporation incorporated in some faraway state?

No, of course not.

On the surface, a metalabel just sounds like a group of people that come together to work on an art project or compete in a hackathon. But crucially, metalabels enable true economic alignment across all participants, instead of the messy, trust-based methods of collaboration that exist today.

When we decrease the barriers of creating trusted relationships, the amount of creative output drastically increases. The Metalabel approach embodies this by using programmable onchain financial primitives to break down the antiquated processes that have historically been necessary for creating trust amongst collaborators.

How metalabels work

Three key pieces of onchain infrastructure make up each metalabel.

Metalabels use Splits, NFT contracts, and a Gnosis Safe

Gnosis Safe: a Gnosis Safe acts as the governing body for the metalabel. Each participant is a signer on the Safe with equal "voting rights", and the Safe acts as the shared decision making body through which all collective actions are performed.

NFT contracts: every metalabel can initiate new "drops" by deploying unique NFT contracts. A drop could be an essay, a magazine, a video—anything that speaks to their audience. Some drops have just digital objects (i.e., NFTs), while others have offline components as well (i.e., printed magazines).

Splits: metalabels use Splits contracts to define how future payments (e.g., earnings from their NFT drops) will be distributed. They’re able to define these rules ahead of time, ensuring that nobody gets rugged and all finances are handled transparently according to rules agreed upon at the outset. Metalabels use Splits in two primary ways today:

  1. Any revenue generated by the metalabel via the NFTs flows directly to a Split contract, where it is distributed automatically to collaborators according to agreed upon percentages. Here is an example.
  2. Revenue generated by the metalabel that has associated upfront costs/expenses (e.g., printing a magazine) are sent to a Recoup contract, where expenses are first repaid before profits are sent to a Split and distributed among the collaborators. Here is an example.

Without the ability for a metalabel to define what these payment structures ought to look like ahead of time, much of the creative experimentation would not be possible. After all, it’s much harder to agree on how funds should be distributed after the fact, rather than agreeing on it upfront.

Why this matters

Metalabel is leveraging innovative, simple, and modular building blocks to drastically improve an existing, timeless process—collaborating with other human beings on a shared vision. Sadly, that process has become increasingly burdened in administrative process and red tape. Not any more.

Straight out of the box, each metalabel gets a non-custodial shared bank account (the Gnosis Safe), a base form of distribution for their creative project (NFT contracts), and its own set of custom payment rules that get executed automatically (the Splits contracts).

Each metalabel now has granular control over exactly where revenue flows without needing to rely on anyone to handle manual distributions. Everything is pre-programmed, fully transparent, and verifiable by all parties at the outset.

The base primitives that metalabel is using — multisigs, NFTs, and Splits — are battle-tested building blocks for designing experimental systems that improve humankind.

We’re proud to see Metalabel push the boundaries of experimentation using Splits to build a world where the systems by which cooperation and collaboration happen don’t get in the way of the creation itself.

Special thanks for Bruno for feedback and review

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