Boardroom caught up with Toni Sudimac at VeeCon 2022, the leader behind Lyrical Lemonade’s new tech subsidiary.
Every avenue of Lyrical Lemonade’s business is self-funded. The Chicago-based multimedia giant has never taken outside capital. It was essential for the company to stay true to that to maintain creative freedom as it moved into new spaces, like Web3.
Lyrical Lemonade is a multimedia company that lends itself to emerging and established artists. In the last two months, it has moved into the Web3 space by launching a new tech arm and releasing an NFT project inspired by its flagship logo.
Boardroom caught up with Toni Sudimac at VeeCon 2022, who is one of the masterminds behind Lyrical Lemonade’s new tech endeavor. He gave us the lowdown on everything there is to know about Lyrical Lemonade’s Web3 plans as the company prepares to host the fifth annual Summer Smash music festival this weekend.
Who is the team behind L3mon?
When you think of Lyrical Lemonade, you often think of Cole Bennett operating as a one-person team, but that’s not the case anymore. There is a tribe of creatives behind the brand leading in various ways. Toni Sudimac is one of the behind-the-scenes heroes putting Lyrical on the map in different industries.
Sudimac met Bennett back in 2016 when he was building the Lyrical Lemonade empire with just a DSLR camera. Later that year, Sudimac started forming a crypto portfolio and learning how to build blockchain applications. Sudimac said his relationship with Cole started as a friendship before turning into a lifelong journey of maximizing the impact of Lyrical Lemonade. Sudimac leaned into Lyrical when he was getting involved with live event coordination for up-and-coming talent in Chicago on the side while finishing up school. When he graduated from college in May 2020, he fully immersed himself in video production and took on a more integral role in the Lyrical Lemonade universe.
Sudimac wears many hats in the Lyrical Lemonade world, but most notably, he leads the company’s tech arm, L3mon, which launched in April with its first NFT project: the Carton collection. With his growing interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency, it was only right he spearheaded this new aspect of the business.
“With Lyrical being the creative platform that it is, and trying to disrupt everything on the music side of things, naturally, Web3 technologies are very appealing to us,” Sudimac told Boardroom. “Our conversations about Web3, NFTs, [and] Ethereum really started about two years ago.”
L3mon and The Carton NFT Collection
The Web3 scene can seem quite polarizing at times, so Lyrical Lemonade was cautious about moving into the new space as it was building its strong brand. The company was thinking of ways to apply Web3 tech to Lyrical as a whole business when it landed on this new tech wing of its brand called L3mon. Sudimac said that Lyrical had already achieved the middle educational balance with its brand, so launching L3mon as an additional branch was feasible as long as it didn’t taint what the team had already worked so hard to build.
“Our thing was that we wanted to protect what Lyrical was and not make any abrupt changes because the last thing that we would want to do is alienate our supporters,” he said. “So that’s where the idea for the Carton collection came in. We wanted to kind of test the waters and do it in a way that was true to us.”
The Carton NFT collection, which hit the market in April, is limited to 500 unique pieces of digital art featuring different designs of Lyrical Lemonade’s classic logo. Each piece in the Ethereum-based collection was handcrafted by L3mon’s in-house design team and underwent a rigorous selection process. Sudimac said L3mon’s design team made about 1,200 NFTs before landing on the final 500. Each day for about three months, the design team would create and present a new group of NFTs to include in the collection. The creative process was intense, Sudimac explained, but fun nonetheless.
“Looking back on it, I remember the more fun days where we’re making a bunch of good assets, but that’s the nature of it,” Sudimac said. “You show up every day, put something together, and that’s just what it is.”
Keeping this collection small was a big goal for L3mon, especially as the Web3 company tests out utilities and explores providing holders with a deeper connection to the Lyrical Lemonade world, including more access to its annual music festival, YouTube channel, and merchandise. L3mon also wanted to protect its artistic process and be able to dive into its private Discord and interact with NFT holders.
“People are like, Yo, you could have done 10,000 [NFTs] and raised millions of dollars. And it’s like, yeah, that’s very true,” Sudimac said. “But at that point, we’re favoring hype over execution. If we truly believe in Web3 tech, the whole point is to build incrementally and to be here in 10 years instead of taking a bunch of money upfront when you can, and then not knowing how to deploy.”
Despite doing little to no promotion before launch, L3mon’s inaugural NFT project sold out quickly. This shows that the Lyrical community is strong, and the company’s new brand is committed to staying true to Lyrical’s core values of moving and growing organically.
Carton NFT holders will have early access to all future drops from L3mon, which could include NFTs, exclusive merch, behind-the-scenes content, and more. The private Discord is arguably one of the more desirable utilities since the Lyrical team will often pre-launch new content there before sharing it with the community. For instance, Carton NFT holders got to view BabyTron’s music video for his “Emperor of the Universe” single before the rest of the world. From now on, there will be a different 3D Carton featured spinning at the end of every Lyrical Lemonade music video to pay homage to NFT holders and the L3mon brand. This started with Justin Bieber’s “I Feel Funny” music video.
Since Web3 is new territory for the Lyrical brand, the company hired some advisors to help them navigate the Web3 industry and launch L3mon.
L3mon debuted a new token-gated website this week that features a scrolling display of the Carton collection, and most notably, a connect wallet functionality has been added. L3mon worked with its official tech partner, Mojito, to build out its new virtual home. Mojito is an NFT studio and tech platform company known for designing websites and NFT marketplaces for brands and creators. Aside from adding crypto wallet accessibility, L3mon’s new site also features festival merch, tickets, the holder-only merch shop, NFT claims, and more.
Moving forward, L3mon is focusing on building out its NFT utilities, one of which will be NFT ticketing for its flagship Summer Smash festival. Sudimac said the team is doubling down on fostering community with its NFT holders and preparing for the event.
“Instead of worrying too much about another NFT drop as a fund mechanism, it’s like, let’s try and build out this holder experience,” said Sudimac. “Let’s try and build out this unique shop, let’s try and build out these new ticketing technologies, [and] let’s have a presence at VeeCon. I think we just wanna focus on giving the folks who want to be a part of this a chance to be a part of it and giving all the value that we possibly can and then going forward with other drops when we shift more into drop mode, and we’re ready to take on more folks into this ecosystem that we’re building.”
NFT Ticketing at the Summer Smash Festival
Summer Smash will take over Chicago from June 17 to 19 with an all-star musical lineup that includes Wiz Khalifa, Flo Milli, 2 Chainz, BIA, Lil Uzi Vert, and more. Lyrical dubs its Summer Smash “the premier hip-hop music festival in the Midwest,” and the multimedia brand is preparing to put on its fifth annual event this weekend.
Aligning with its upcoming festival, L3mon is bringing Web3 into the equation for the first time.
L3mon views NFTs as access passes, Sudimac said. One of the main utilities of its Carton collection is that holders get three years of Summer Smash festival access beginning this year. Tickets were airdropped to every Carton NFT holder. The tech company is working on creating a whole new tier above VIP that will be accessible to NFT holders only for the festival. This new tier includes a plus one for holders, VIP merch bundles, and more. If holders can’t attend the festival, they could trade their tickets for merch and other perks. This offering is unique since the NFT festival tickets are attached to Carton NFTs, and holders could get some sort of reimbursement if they need to miss the main event.
On June 15, L3mon is hosting an exclusive party for NFT holders ahead of the festival this weekend. Holders can pick up their tickets at the event or when they arrive at the festival gates since there will be a dedicated portion of roll call for NFT ticket pickup. At future festivals, Sudimac said he hopes holders will be able to scan their NFT directly at the gate.
“We’re working on a couple of different tech solutions,” said Sudimac. “We’re not there yet, but I’d like to go fully digital with ticketing next year. We have a couple of ideas on the board.”
In the next three to five years, Sudimac would love to see Summer Smash and music events, in general, be fully NFT-ticketed to the point where attendees don’t even realize their tickets are NFTs. He sees NFT ticketing becoming the norm just as digital boarding passes have.