A Few Approaches to Project Drops

In recent weeks Art Blocks has seen a surge of generative art collectors joining the community. While we love to see the platform grow, we recognize that drop times have been a source of network-wide congestion and frustration for collectors. After a gas-war drop, inevitable conversations around drop mechanics take over the Discord for the next few hours. So, I want to highlight drop mechanics artists have tried in the Playground and Factory. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to the problem, and every solution has its tradeoffs. But seeing the innovative approaches artists are taking in the Playground and Factory brings the community closer to a long-term solution to short-term frustrations.

Dutch Auction

One interesting approach that has only been tried on the platform is a Dutch auction. A high starting price is set and gradually lowered in a Dutch auction until the project sells out. This can be a tool for price discovery on primary sales instead of secondary, and the money is paid to artists — not miners or same-day flippers.

Speckled Summits #11 — Jake Rockland

Jake Rockland was the first artist on the platform to try a Dutch auction with his third project, Speckled Summits. The plan was to start the auction at 0.44Ξ and lower the price by 0.05Ξ every 15 minutes until it reached 0.24Ξ or the project sold out. However, the demand for the project was high and sold out in 67 seconds. And Rockland being Rockland, donated proceeds over 0.24Ξ to charity (again).

Speckled Summits pricing structure

The obvious drawback in a Dutch auction is pricing some collectors out from the start, but that’s just how markets work. Unfortunately, we cannot collect everything. And when there is more demand than supply, prices go up. However, in this approach, artists benefit from price discovery on primary sales — or in Rockland’s case, most of the benefits went to the Give Well charity.

Surprise Drops

Dmitri Cherniak’s The Eternal Pump was the first unannounced project on Art Blocks. Since then, the only other artist to do a secret drop is Daniel Catt with 70s Pop Ghost Bonus Pack. Both artists let the community know a project would be released but didn’t give any specifics on the day or time. Dropping an unannounced project is an excellent way to mitigate gas wars, but collectors might be frustrated if they miss the drop.

The Eternal Pump #15 — Dmitri Cherniak

Rewarding Collectors

Recently, some artists have implemented a reward mechanism for collectors to gain early access to upcoming projects. Shvembldr was the first artist to try this. In The Blocks of Art, each piece had a letter from ‘ART BLOCKS’ embedded in the design.

The Blocks of Art #44 — Shvembldr

Collectors that assemble all 9 letters gain access to Shvembldr’s theblocksofart.com club and receive TBOA tokens, which can be used to mint future Shvembldr drops before non-club members. Alien Clock was the first project to use the TBOA token and give club members early access.

Alien Clock #15 — Shvembldr

Shvembldr’s next club project is Ony2. Club members will have 24 hours to claim their piece starting on July 30th, and the remaining will be auctioned to the general public beginning July 31st.

ony2 — Shvembldr

Dmitri Cherniak recently announced a new project, The Wrapture, and an interesting reward for The Eternal Pump collectors. Only eligible Eternal Pump collectors will be able to mint a piece from The Wrapture. The project size is limited to less than 50 (‘excluding egregious botters’) and will remain there only if ‘no one trades, sells, or lists their edition for sale in the next year.’ If one person does, the remaining mints will be released, and the project size will go from 50 to 666. I personally find this fascinating and will be watching closely to see how it plays out.

Open Editions

So far, there haven’t been any projects with an open minting period. Open editions have been used on other platforms but never on Art Blocks. In June, artist John Karel released 10,000 mints of Window Still Life 066 for 1 Tezos on Hic et Nunc and burned any unsold pieces after 24 hours. The project sold a total of 3,350 in the first 24 hours.

Following the experiment, John encouraged other artists to do similar releases: over-mint your art, sell it for next to nothing, and burn the remaining pieces after 24 hours. As a result, there was an avalanche of affordable art on H=N in the following weeks, inspired by John’s release.

Of course, spending 1 Tezos on a project is very different than spending 0.1Ξ, but the mechanics of an open drop are still interesting. On the one hand, people might be hesitant to buy a project without knowing the final project size. But if too many people sit out, it could result in an artificially low supply.

Let’s Experiment!

Finding a new and more fair way to release a project is not easy. The Art Blocks team is investing serious time and effort into developing a custom solution for the Curated Series, but watching artists run their own experiments in the Factory and Playground has been extremely valuable. Of course, no solution is perfect, and every change is bound to have people that disagree. But we encourage artists to keep being creative in the Factory and Playground — and the community to give honest and respectful feedback.

Do you have any drop mechanic ideas you hope to see implemented? Leave a comment below or in the #user-feedback section of our Discord!

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The Link is a newsletter by ArtBlocks.io. We cover the world of generative art on the Ethereum blockchain and stories at the intersection of technology and art. Follow us for project announcements, artist interviews, and more.

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