Mike Shinoda – Ziggurats
Mike Shinoda has been quite busy recently. Over the last four years, the co-vocalist and songwriter for Linkin Park has launched a solo career and worked on numerous projects (including a new experimental mixtape EP called Ziggurats). While the COVID-19 pandemic presented several challenges, Mike Shinoda utilized the lockdown to connect with his fans. He now streams several times a week on Twitch, offering everything from art and gaming to live music production. Shinoda has also worked as a record producer, producing several tracks for upcoming artists.
But he’s not done yet. This year Shinoda has been dipping his toes in several new areas, including working with NFTs. As NFTs are a newer concept, this has resulted in some understandable bewilderment from folks who aren’t familiar with crypto-technology. Many individuals have inquired, “what exactly is an NFT?”
To help answer this, on the eve of releasing his very special forthcoming NFT music EP, Ziggurats (which he describes as a “generative mixtape”), we caught up with Mike Shinoda to get answers to a slew of issues. Learn his thoughts about crypto tech and how he feels it is changing the industry, below:
AltWire/Derek Oswald: For those uninitiated, in your own words, what exactly is an NFT?
Mike Shinoda: It’s proof of ownership of a digital file. For some people, it’s helpful to think of it like the verified checkmark on a social media page. It says “this is the real one.”
AltWire/Derek Oswald: You’ve already released music via NFT format prior to this, but your latest release Ziggurats is different in the sense that it produces thousands of different variations. Can you tell us more about the project?
Mike Shinoda: It’s [Ziggurats] is a music project, first and foremost. If you only want to listen to it on your streaming service, you can on December 3rd. But if you want to experience the magic of owning the NFT, here’s what it is: Ziggurats is a collection of 5000 mini-mixtapes, each almost 7 minutes long, each one with unique music and unique cover art. The vocals are the same on all, but the music and the artwork is built from layers, made by me, assembled in unique combinations so that no two are alike. And some are more rare than others—in fact, I handmade 5 special versions with art that isn’t made from layers at all, they are five completely unique images. Those are the most rare.
When you “mint” one (meaning you buy it on release day from Ziggurats.xyz) you will receive something that feels like an unopened baseball card. Nobody will know which image and track they’ve got until everything is sold out. Then, all at once, the NFTs will reveal and you’ll get to see what yours looks like.
I know there are a lot of fans who are curious about NFTs but haven’t tried it yet. So I designed this release to be an easy “first NFT.” There are multiple blockchains, this release is on the Tezos. To get one, you’ll need a crypto wallet like Temple or Kukai, and you’ll need about 16 Tez, which is about $100 US dollars. I suggest being ready on the website the moment they go live, because they might sell out quickly. All the info will be on my socials, Ziggurats.xyz, and on discord.gg/mikeshinoda leading up to the launch.
AltWire/Derek Oswald: Can you speak about the environmental concerns around crypto? Why Tezos?
Mike Shinoda: I chose Tezos because it’s a green blockchain, with one of the lowest carbon footprints of any popular chain. If you’re concerned about the environment, think about what you eat, what you drive, and who you vote for—those places will help you make the best impact. But when it comes to crypto, there are two things to remember. First, when it comes to carbon footprints, not all blockchains are the same. Tezos is currently two million times more energy-efficient than Ethereum, for example. Second, this is a developing space, and it’s moving faster than anything I’ve ever seen. Environmental concerns are already being addressed: an update to Ethereum is coming in the near future, which will fix its energy consumption problem, and other chains like Tezos, Solana, and Algorand have already addressed it.
AltWire/Derek Oswald: As part of Linkin Park, you are no secret to experimenting with new technology. What is it about NFTs that captures your attention and generates excitement?
Mike Shinoda: It’s the beginning of a new chapter. The idea of proving that you own a digital item isn’t new. We’ve all bought an app we “own,” like Microsoft Word, or a music plugin, or an item in a game. Those items are unlimited in number. The difference here is that the NFT is limited edition. That’s important because, in the physical world, we know there’s a difference between an actual Louis Vuitton bag and a fake one. We know there’s a difference between an actual pair of Jordans and a knock off. Even if they’re constructed in exactly the same way, we value authenticity, rarity, and originality.
What also interests me about blockchain is that it can also be used different ways. There are people using it to crowdfund and organize future projects in business, art, and charity; people using it to create better ways of compensating musicians for their participation on songs; and people using it to provide funding and services to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access.
AltWire/Derek Oswald: With cryptotech building in popularity with every passing moment, what are the ways you believe NFTs are changing the music industry?
Mike Shinoda: Some people don’t care what Bitcoin is or why it might be interesting. But the people who build things—from the apps and devices we use everyday to the things we can’t imagine yet—they know this is a game-changing technology. It will reach my parents generation in a realtively short period of time, but by that time it will be invisible, as invisible as a new app or a newer version of your phone.
AltWire/Derek Oswald: Finally, you’ve kept super busy during the pandemic with your Twitch streams, producing other artists, and doing NFT drops. What else about your future are you most excited about?
Mike Shinoda: I’m exploring a lot of new ideas, looking for things that engage both the right and left sides of my brain. I want to create expressive and exciting music projects that don’t fit into the same boxes that musicians have been living in for years. I’m currently most excited about AI and metaverse applications for music–and I don’t mean VR or androids in some dystopian future. I mean I want people to have an experience with a music project that feels natural, immersive, and new—but under the hood, it’s created using brand new technology. The tech should be invisible, because the tech isn’t the point, the stories and emotional connection in our community is.
The drop for Ziggurats happened in three phases. There was a December 1st “whitelist” release, a general public debut on December 2nd, and a streaming service debut on December 3rd. For those unfamiliar with whitelists: it’s a presale limited to a specific group of people. In this case: existing holders of an MS Tezos NFT. This whitelist was already generated from previous MS NFT drops, and occurred on December 1st.
The public drop of Ziggurats was a massive success and sold out within minutes. For those who were not successful in obtaining Ziggurats when Shinoda first dropped it on December 2nd, many Ziggurats NFTs are now being listed on Objkt. At least one of the ‘rare’ copies has already been listed, and if you suffered hardcore from FOMO when Ziggurats was first dropped, be sure to review the page to get a copy of it here at Ziggurats’ Objkt page.
How to use a Temple wallet (which holds Tezos NFTs and crypto)
How to buy Tezos crypto on Coinbase: