Snoop Dogg is among a growing number of celebrities claiming their own corner of the metaverse – a connected virtual world where people live through avatars. The Doggies, an NFT collection of 10,000 Snoop dog avatars, are playable in The Sandbox (starting with the launch of Alpha Season 2) Each Doggy costs 150 SAND, the cryptocurrency used throughout the ecosystem as the basis for transactions and interactions. In December 2021, Snoop started an initial land sale to allow players to purchase property in his neighborhood in the Snoopverse.
It’s Snoop Dogg’s metaverse. We’re just living in it.
The Doggfather is among a growing number of celebrities claiming their own corner of the metaverse – a connected virtual world where people live through avatars.
And Snoop came to play.
In 2021, he began building the Snoopverse on The Sandbox. The Sandbox is an Ethereum-based decentralized gaming virtual world where users can create, sell, use, and monetize their own nonfungible tokens (NFTs — or unique digital assets that can be bought and sold online). On February 22, he took a big step forward with the Snoopverse by unleashing the Doggies, an NFT collection of 10,000 Snoop Dogg avatars. The Doggies are playable in The Sandbox (starting with the launch of Alpha Season 2). Each Doggy costs 150 SAND (the cryptocurrency used throughout The Sandbox ecosystem as the basis for transactions and interactions).
Of course, you didn’t expect an ordinary avatar collection from Snoop Dogg, did you? No, the Doggies are lit. They run the range from alien, zombie, to robot Doggy, each hand-crafted from more than 150 traits.
And the Doggies are just one element of the Snoopverse, which consists of a recreation of Snoop Dogg’s real-life mansion in Diamond Bar, California. In December 2021, Snoop started an initial land sale to allow players to purchase property in his neighborhood. One NFT collector paid $450,000 to be his neighbor. Premium users (i.e., people willing to fork over the money) get access to goodies such as concerts and private pool parties in the Snoopverse.
Snoop Dogg is not the only celebrity embracing the metaverse. The likes of Paris Hilton are adopting building blocks of the metaverse, notably by minting NFTs. Musicians including Ariana Grande have performed virtual concerts in virtual worlds such as Fortnite. But Snoop Dogg is all-in. Not only did he build the Snoopverse, he also bought Death Row Records and promptly announced that he will convert the company into the first NFT record label.
First off, Snoop Dogg is more than a musician. He’s a brand. And this is true of all celebrities. Celebrities understand the power of their names and their appeal to everyday people. They monetize the value of their names with enterprises such as products, endorsement deals, and personal appearances. Monetizing their presence in the metaverse is a logical extension of what they’re doing already in the analog and digital worlds.
In addition, musicians such as Snoop Dogg possess a special place in the hearts of their fans. Snoop Dogg helped define the West Coast rap sound in the 1990s. For Gen X and Millennial generations in particular, his music defined the sound of the 1990s, period. In the 2000s, he reinvented himself as an all-purpose entertainer, entrepreneur, and pop culture fixture while continuing to crank out music that, if less influential than his breakout work from the 1990s, remained popular. His recent appearance at the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show underscored his enduring power and relevance to contemporary audiences.
As a music mogul, Snoop Dogg taps into the emotional bond he has with fans to create economic value. Because he reinvented himself beyond music, he enjoys a broader following with fans who may not necessarily identify with his music but connect to his brand, which overlaps with fashion, cannabis (especially cannabis), investing, and even the world of Martha Stewart. He’s built that brand into a multi-million dollar empire.
It’s also clear now that the metaverse plays into a vertically integrated strategy for creating music. Two days after announcing the acquisition of Death Row, Snoop Dogg released his 20th studio album, BODR (Bacc on Death Row), his first under the Death Row label under his ownership. One of the Songs, “House I Built,” was a statement of purpose for Snoop Dogg’s future:
Walkin’ through The Sandbox with flip-flops on
This reminds me of a hip-hop song (Right on)
No Instagrams, no TikToks on
You run up on the Dogg and get bip-bopped on (Bip-bopped on?)
Back in the days, yeah, they took my songs
But if I get back, then I could live like that (Facts)
See, we don’t cry over spilled milk
I’m Snoop Dogg, baby, and I’m smooth as silk
We keep blowin’ trees, all these emergencies
A hundred-million-dollar deals with this cryptocurrency
Spitter, hitter, did her, get her, man, I got a lotta moves
Used to spend a lotta bread on a whole lotta jewels
Fools learn fast, so I must be the fastest
Took all my classes, learned it
He has matched his words with actions with the guidance of his son, Cordell Broadus. In addition to streaming BODR, he announced that he would be releasing BODR through a partnership with blockchain platform Gala Games. Through a branded BODR Stash Box, he released tracks as NFTs. Buying an NFT gave listeners not only music but rewards such as future drops and concert attendance opportunities. Per Gala Games, “Owners of all 17 songs will receive massive real-life and digital rewards, including an exclusive concert and pre-party with Snoop, limited edition Death Row bling, and more.” As of this writing, Stash Box sales had generated about $44 million in revenue.
Stash Box and Doggie avatars are not even his first foray into NFTs. He’s been avidly collecting NFTs under the alias Cozomo de’ Medici, and he’s been making them, too. For instance, on April 20, 2021, he released a collaboration with the digital artist behind the Nyan Cat meme. In November, he minted a rate NFT that sold for about $750,000.
Now, imagine what he might accomplish by turning Death Row into an NFT music company? This is a label with nowhere to go but up. Death Row is long past its glory days when the company released Snoop Dogg’s first album, Doggystyle, in 1993. Since declaring bankruptcy in 2006, Death Row has been bought and sold among various owners, including, improbably, the Hasbro toy company.
It’s clear that Snoop Dogg’s Stash Box is a template for how Death Row will operate. Death Row’s website now has an NFT tab, which takes visitors to Gala Games, and the Gala Games site features Death Row and Snoop Dogg NFTs. A number of tantalizing questions remain, such as:
- What will be the relationship between the Snoopverse on The Sandbox and Death Row on Gala Games? What kind of branding synergies might exist? Will the Snoopverse also be a distribution platform for Death Row NFTs even though Gala Games is already doing that?
- When we begin to see the real operability that the metaverse promises, will Snoop Dogg avatars from the Snoopverse be able to move easily into the Gala Games universe? That’s the promise of the metaverse, anyway. What will the reality look like when intellectual property rights get factored in?
Snoop Dogg’s adoption of NFTs also matters for another reason: he’s casting a spotlight on the value of NFTs for all musicians, not just the uber-wealthy.
A number of lesser-known, less wealthy musicians have been turning to NFTs to generate income. This is out of necessity. The coronavirus pandemic has denied musicians the ability to earn money from touring, and streaming platforms are not a viable source of income. NFTs give musicians the chance to gain fan loyalty by selling not only music but incentives such as the digital rewards that Snoop Dogg offers through the Stash Box.
NFTs and cryptocurrencies are empowering indie artists everywhere, including Ibn Inglor, Curren$y, Mick Jenkins, Thoughts Detecting Machines, and many others. For example, Daniel Allan built a fan following on the Discord server during the pandemic and used NFTs to crowdfund his EP Overstimulated in exchange for 50 percent of the artist share of Overstimulated’s master royalties. Investors in the $OVERSTIM digital currency share in the profits, with top investors getting special access to perks such as private listening parties and headline shows. He also sells songs on an NFT music platform known as Catalog. He told Time magazine that building a fan base on Discord is crucial to his success because Discord attracts digital currency enthusiasts. He said, “I don’t think this creates rich artists. What this does is create a musical middle class.”
No wonder, as Venture Beat noted, NFTs may very well redefine the future of the music industry.
Snoop Dogg is demonstrating what a wealthy and powerful music mogul can accomplish during the formative years of the metaverse. He may also be pointing the way for the entire industry.