Revelator's Bruno Guez on NFTs and Brands as Art Patrons
Bruno Guez is the CEO and founder of digital asset management platform Revelator and a former director on the board of Merlin Network. He brings over 25 years of experience as a seasoned music executive working with Chris Blackwell's Island Records and Guy Laliberte's Cirque du Soleil.
We caught up with Bruno for our Liner Notes series to learn more about his musical tastes and journey through the years, as well as recent work he's proud of and admired.
Bruno, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I was born in France, but grew up in Los Angeles, California. Currently, I live in Jerusalem, Israel.
Your earliest musical memory.
Some of my earliest memories that I can remember came from listening to my mom's records on our vinyl player. Some of her favorites were Baden Powell, Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac, so I grew up listening to a blend of classic rock and world music. At the age of nine was when I started playing drums and began really enjoying rhythm. Life is rhythm in all its manifestations and music provides a daily soundtrack to my life.
Your first concert.
My first concert was when I was around eight or nine, and it was a theatrical musical called Starmania. I was still in France at the time, and it was the first kind of concert where they used lasers. I sat right next to the console and I was blown away by the sound and the lights working together. I couldn't keep my eyes off the mixing console; I was mesmerized at how the engineers were playing with knobs and mixing the show, all while the lasers were going off. I felt like I was in outer space.
Your favorite bands/musicians, and what you love about them.
I've enjoyed Kaytranada in recent years and I still listen to a lot of jazz, Brazilian music and reggae. I'll listen to artists like Duke Jordan, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Joao Gilberto, Fela Kuti, and have really been enjoying Kokoroko lately. I don't know that I am loyal to any specific bands anymore. I think we have grown from a culture focused on albums to more of a single song culture. Really, I am inspired by different genres and make playlists that I really love to listen to over and over. I've found it difficult to love one thing specifically day to day, so what I listen to mainly depends on how I'm feeling that day.
How you get your music these days.
I get my music mainly from Spotify and Radionova. I discover quite a lot of music on one of their shows called Néo Géo, a weekly world music show that has been on the air for the last 25 years. They play new music from around the world that you can't always find on the DSPs and that most algorithms can't present to you. I like to hunt for music and discover the music myself. I have a very particular taste and interest in music that algorithms can't really match. I'm much more of a crate digger.
Your favorite place to see a concert.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I used to love going to outdoor summer events, especially The Hollywood Bowl. I would take a picnic and just enjoy the day, taking in the sunset, watching the day turn into night, and listening to the music under the stars. It's connecting music with nature that I really enjoy most.
Your favorite music video.
I don't watch music videos these days. I'm much more in tune to the audio experience.
Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.
I like listening to Interdependence, a podcast hosted by Mat Dryhurst and Holly Herndan. I thought the Apple TV special with Mark Ronson was really cool.
A recent project you're proud of.
I’m proud to help build the future of music rights and royalty distribution for creators, and accelerating payments is something I care about deeply. I see an opportunity to help the music industry transform to more efficient models. That is the kind of legacy that I would like to leave behind, and it's what I’m most proud of lately. We are building the core infrastructure, the pipes and the plumbing, to bring music royalties on-chain. Revelator enables a faster, more efficient flow of value and medium of exchange between rights owners. We see ourselves as the bridge for the music industry to leverage the power of blockchain.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
I really love the Water & Music community. I like how they are organic counterculture thinkers and innovators who are working together to figure out what music looks like in a new tokenized economy. I also like what brands like Gucci and Nike are doing with their virtual NFT galleries. It's really interesting to see how culture is being redefined, and how digital assets play a pivotal role in that.
How musicians should approach working with brands.
I think musicians should approach working with brands in a similar way I did when I created music for hotels, creating the soundtrack to the brand experience. Musicians today can take this concept of associating brands with a "musical DNA" for that artist. It's about pairing your music's DNA with the brand's DNA. I think DJs are especially good at it as tastemakers, curators, and influencers. Brands have to trust the musician as a tastemaker to bring their musical culture to that brand.
How brands should approach working with musicians.
I think brands should be commissioning music from musicians. They should be sponsoring NFT drops and paying musicians to bring certain exclusive drops to different audiences. I think brands should play more of an "art patron" role without requiring any of the rights. The brands can bring this exclusive content to the brand's metaverse or experience. The brand should reward the audience with exclusive NFTs that are only available to the brand's audience. The opportunity is for brands to act as curators introducing new music and culture to audiences. It will create even more superfans in many ways, both for the brand and for the musician, it's a win-win.
What music can do that nothing else can.
Music moves you. It transports you. It makes you travel through time and space to experience culture. It connects you to that generation’s message. When I'm listening to 1970s Fela Kuti Afrobeat, I'm experiencing what it was like to be in Nigeria in the '70s. When I'm listening to jazz or dub, it transports me to what it's like to be in Jamaica at a Soundsystem party. When I'm feeling low, I know what music to play, the same when I am in a good mood, I know what music takes me higher. When I'm tired of listening to the same thing, I know where to go to unblock my energy. It's usually about finding new songs and new artists that I haven't yet been exposed to and finding great tunes that resonate with me. There's a dynamic connection between music and life. Life happens in motion, and it's music that keeps me moving.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the music world.
If I weren't in the music world, I would definitely have my own restaurant. I am a foodie and love to discover recipes from around the world probably as much as I love to discover music from around the world.
Liner Notes is our weekly interview series, publishing every Monday, where we chat with folks in the music industry about their creative inspirations, their favorite bands and musicians, and generally what music means to them. For more about Liner Notes, and our Clio Music program, please get in touch.