Living Opera’s Magic Mozart Collection Powers Philanthropy and Performing Arts Engagement

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Living Opera – a multimedia startup that builds classical music based digital assets on the blockchain – launches the Magic Mozart NFT collection, a generative art project based on characteristics from Mozart’s Magic Flute

Late last year our team at Living Opera debuted the Magic Mozart NFT collection, a generative art project based on characteristics from Mozart’s Magic Flute. The collection contains digital art and personalized on-chain musical minuets based on a replica of Ein Musikalisches Würfelspiel – a musical dice game attributed to Mozart.

While music lovers agree that the game is an incredible demonstration of Mozart’s musical genius, it also appeals to technologists: with over a quadrillion permutations that create a new musical selection, the algorithmic musical composition has captivated the interest of top computer scientists.

At Living Opera, we aspire to reform the philanthropy space using a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to facilitate access to grants on a rapid and transparent basis. When they function at their true state, DAOs use smart contracts – or code – that dictate what will happen if a certain condition is met. Smart contracts promise to expedite the grantmaking process and add greater transparency over the acquisition and use of funds.

In 2021, US arts and humanities organized received $23.5 billion in charitable donations. However, artists’ wages have continued to stagnate. Our whitepaper based on Census Bureau data shows that US artists not only earn less than the average American, but have experienced a relative decline in their total earnings since 2009. Despite substantial funding for arts and cultural institutions, challenges for artists have only grown. Although that might sound immaterial for people in non-arts sectors, it is gravely important: not only does the arts and culture sector constitute 4.2 percent of gross domestic product, notes the Bureau of Economic Analysis, but also the arts have a profound multiplier effect on creativity and innovation that is not easily reducible with available data.

DAOs could facilitate micro-grants to artists and democratize funding applications and experiential arts learning. Living Opera is building the first arts entrepreneurship verifiable credential that will exist on the blockchain. DAOs and smart contracts enable a wave of innovation and mobility into certain states over others. Living Opera relocated to Nashville because of a legislation that Tennessee Representative Jason Powell spearheaded that allows DAOs receive similar treatment to LLCs and non-profits – perfect for the Living Arts DAO.

The performing arts are a challenging profession, and most artists, according to our research, struggle with depression and mental health. But just like anyone else, they feel more motivated when they believe that they are learning and growing. Members in the Living Arts DAO community who submit proposals gain valuable experience in writing and presenting themselves to others—a skill they typically do not get in college—together with an arts-entrepreneurship digital certificate.

In fact, my ongoing research with Jonathan Kuuskoski at the University of Michigan shows that only about 10 percent of colleges even offer an arts entrepreneurship certificate, though college students who major in the fine arts and get some exposure to business curricula end up earning higher hourly wages. In this sense, the DAO is designed not only to meet an immediate need but also to equip members with the credentials and knowhow to market themselves over the long run. This also allows the DAO to become a community of practice that can simultaneously incubate talent and help arts institutions source the right people for performances.

DAOs, like other blockchain technologies, cannot replace good judgment, the right people, and good ideas. But they have the potential to promote better governance, return on investment, and flourishing in the arts profession by increasing transparency and accountability. My hope is that the Living Arts DAO functions as an early pilot for a new approach within the world of arts philanthropy that leads to transformational outcomes for artists, philanthropists, and society at large.

Living Opera, founded by two opera singers and an economist, is a multimedia art-technology company that unites the classical music and blockchain communities to produce transformative content. Living Opera takes a holistic approach to life, work, and education: “living” means “full of life and vigor,” and “opera” means (in Latin) “labor, effort, attention, or work.” Living Opera NFT collections, such as Magic Mozart, are designed to bring the art and tech worlds together by expanding the audience of people who traditionally engage with classical music and fine art.

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