Lightspeed Newsletter: Nina’s Solana solution for indie music distribution

Plus, Blinks have reshaped many people’s understanding of what blockchains are capable of

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Howdy!

I misread yesterday’s reports as saying Severance season two would be dropping today, so I’m a bit grumpy after finding out I’ll be hanging onto this cliff for six more months. 

After scrolling X during this most recent crypto slide, some of you could use a little severance from DEX Screener. That’s the grumpy brain speaking. Anyways:


Nina’s Solana solution for indie music distribution

Recently, I’ve been playing with Nina, which is a Solana-based platform for artists to sell their music. The app, frankly, is not ready for prime time yet — but with some of the advancements being made during this smart wallet summer, it seems like it could be tantalizingly close to creating a gem.

Nina has been around for years, but it released a mobile app in June. On opening the app, I was shown a TikTok-like feed where I could scroll through songs and add ones I liked to my music library. There’s also rudimentary architecture for looking through albums and playing music — I found it reminiscent of the old rap mixtape app DatPiff. 

I found some cool indie music through this “discover feed,” but there are also a lot of pretty out-there or amateurish songs on the platform. It doesn’t seem very curated. I can’t imagine their discovery algorithm is as fine-tuned as something like Spotify’s. (I reached out to Nina for comment on this, but they didn’t respond by press time.)

Nina is pushing into mobile, which is where most music-listening happens, but most of the crypto stuff lives on Nina’s website for now. 

Nina tracks are hosted on the decentralized file storage service Arweave, where they can be purchased as semi-fungible Solana tokens. Users receive smart wallets through the email sign up specialist Magic, and they can pay for songs that artists are selling with crypto or a card. Once users purchase music, they get access to a list of files, not all of which need to be public — it would be cool to see this used for artists to send an exclusive letter or video message to fans that purchased their work on Nina. 

Both the website and the mobile app were a little buggy and slow at times, at least for me.

On the site, I clicked through different “hubs,” which are little collections of music that individuals or record labels can make. After some aimless clicking, I found a track titled “​​When Its Cold I’d Like To Die” — which is absolutely true by the way — and bought the track for 1 USDC with my Phantom wallet. 

As a collector, I now have this “fungible asset” viewable on Solana, and I can download any exclusive files the artist chooses to release. To this point, this is stuff we’ve seen before — aside from the Magic-enabled email sign-in wallet, more recent innovations in crypto don’t factor in a whole ton. 

But hypothetically, imagine something like a TipLink integration where users could create a wallet on their phone with a Google account paired with something like Helio or Meso to let users easily onramp USDC into their accounts — allowing users to scroll and purchase tracks with crypto directly on the app, with 100% of proceeds going to the artists. This seems like a pretty workable consumer crypto app, built with tech that currently exists. 

This would take some tweaking, but the platform is quite keen on Solana’s potential for consumer apps: Nina co-founder Mike Pollard told me in an email that when he first used Solana, “it was immediately clear that the UX was orders of magnitude higher than Bitcoin or Ethereum for building consumer applications on. A blockchain based consumer application will only work if you can get near instant transaction settlements.”

Nina is building in an interesting niche: transparent, peer-to-peer sales of music between mostly-indie artists and their fans. Tracks are priced in USDC, rather than in volatile cryptos, and there are no public resale markets for fans to flip their purchases for a profit. Artists keep 100% of the profits, Nina says, and the platform claims to be more about community than speculation. 

As the past several months have shown, speculation is a pretty lucrative business on Solana. But if Nina can make the financial side of things work, its vision seems like a pretty cool internet economy to inhabit. 

Jack Kubinec

Zero In 

Raydium has been printing fees this week:

The Solana DEX has generated more than $2.3 million in fees each of the past six days. Its $2.75 million over the past 24 hours have it as the highest-fee generating DeFi protocol over that time span, besting Lido and Ethereum, according to DeFiLlama. Unsurprisingly, memecoins appear to be involved: Raydium’s highest-fee trading pool over the past 24 hours involved the newer memecoin and very-cute dog Billy.

The other Solana memecoin-adjacent platform holding court among the top DeFi protocols has fared slightly less well: Pump.fun’s fees are down slightly from May and early-June highs. It ranks tenth among protocols in 24 hour fees. 

Jack Kubinec

The Pulse

It’s safe to say that Solana Blinks are officially a big deal. Since launching on June 25, they have reshaped many people’s understanding of what blockchains are capable of by allowing users to execute onchain events directly from shareable links on X. Combined with Solana Actions, they are able to transform any digital interaction into an onchain transaction.

We have NFT collections selling out within hours (2021 called, it wants its jpegs back), users buying domain names, generously tipping each other, donating to charities, participating in prediction markets, and more — all using Solana, all without ever leaving the X website. As of an hour ago, there is even a way to create custom Blinks with no coding skills required.

Now that a lot of the utilitarian executions are out of the way, developers seem to be shifting focus to use cases that exist simply to be fun and entertaining. For instance, AskAnon is a tool for anonymously asking, complementing, and connecting with crypto personalities. One team even launched an (ostensibly pirated?) ROM of Pokémon Red, making the game playable directly on X. Ah, nostalgia.

Solana is also directly promoting community engagement through Blink Build Days, in-person meetups for learning and experimenting with Solana Blinks and Actions.

Jeffrey Albus

One Good DM

A message from Macauley Peterson, senior editor at Blockworks:


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