Meet Craig, the alter-ego of the one and only, Reo Cragun.
Foreshadowing the artist and producer’s next musical chapter, “what it’s like to lose” offers a sneak preview of what’s on the horizon for the LNRZ founder. Reintroducing his darker, moodier, more braggadocious side, Reo revives the character first introduced in his 2018 EP Craig.
Created as a response to industry pressure to stay in one lane musically after the release of his debut album Growing Pains via Virgin Records in 2017, Reo conceptualized the persona as a vehicle to express all sides of himself freely. “I'm not a very bravado person by nature. I have a pretty simple life, to be honest. Craig is kind of the opposite of that. The side of me that’s extravagant, not afraid to express my thoughts, and has strong opinions–that's the character.”
Bridging the gap between Reo and Craig, “what it’s like to lose,” weaves between the more thoughtful, contemplative Reo and a more impulsive, in-your-face Craig. “The song is pretty light hearted at first, then ramps up and I get a little bit more bold. At the beginning I'm talking about this girl, how she was putting on a show. I couldn’t see through it, but it was actually good for me. Then by the end, I'm like, ‘It’s 2 am, I'm going 70 on the 405, fuck it. I'm not sleeping. I'm about to go do some reckless, arrogant shit,’” says Reo. “I’m explaining a little bit of my journey as a person and an artist through both perspectives–the well thought out and meticulously planned Reo side of me, and then the not afraid to speak my mind, a little bit arrogant, Craig towards the end. The beat actually pitches down a few semitones and it gets a little darker to get the message across that it’s a different guy talking.”
Currently working on a longer form project further exploring this duality while continuing to build LNRZ, the web3 distribution company he spearheads with Clear Eyes, Reo is leaning into his multitudes. “The LNRZ journey, the large amount of change in my life, and the multiple hats that I'm wearing resurfaced wanting to talk about more things than I have been in the last couple of years.”
What started as an experiment two years ago, LNRZ has now evolved into a full blown business with Reo at the helm. Implementing a weekly curation model featuring music from different artists every week, LNRZ is leading the way. “Honestly, it’s kind of mind blowing. We started this curation journey seven months ago and had 20 unique collectors. Today, we're at around 1200 unique collectors. So it’s been a pretty big half of the year for us.”
Though he’s no stranger to running his own business as an artist, Reo’s honest about the new responsibilities and learning curve of overseeing a company. “I’m in a lot of leadership positions. I think self awareness is super important. And that's why, I'm not afraid to look stupid. I asked for a lot of help. I trust the people that I work with on a daily basis to make the right decisions as well. It's a work in progress.”
The journey hasn’t been without its challenges, but the passion and consistent growth has kept the team rolling on. “The challenge has been that it didn't really exist onchain, so there wasn't a lot to reference. There's a whole bunch of amazing curation in the digital art world, things like Art Blocks, for example, that initially inspired some of the ideas we wanted to execute. And the community that they've built,” says Reo. “Another challenge has been that LNRZ was self-funded for a very long time. And it's hard to incentivize people, but we were able to go pretty far with not a lot of budget. I owe a lot of people favors,” Reo laughs.
The motivating factor has always been the music and better servicing artists–a North Star that has proved invaluable to the project’s unfolding success. Quality control, cool factor, and heart also make a strong case for the project’s allure. The weekly drops, the collaborative longform project Satellites, the website and drop mechanisms, Mirror posts, and the LNRZ HQ Twitter, Lens, and Telegram all exude a feeling of heartfelt excitement. “I think the greatest thing, from my end, is just being able to release great music. It's really a joy. When people are excited to work on a project, and they're happy with the outcome. It's pure collaboration to get creative in different ways. There's a lot of moving pieces. But at the end of the day, as long as the artists are happy and thriving that keeps us going.”
Looking to expand their reach and better support the artists in their community, Reo and his team are dedicated to finding new pathways for growth and sustainability. “You gotta ask yourself, ‘What does a web3 company look like in music?’ I think it's bigger than only releasing music NFTs. So, in the next few months, we're branching out and doing a bunch of things that will empower creators and allow them to monetize in new ways. And build community at an accelerated growth,” says Reo. “We want to champion artists. That's the main goal.”
With multiple projects in the LNRZ ecosystem on the way, Reo and his team are making an effort to listen to feedback from community members and build more democratic ways of ideating and decision making. “The last few months there has been a lot of voicing that the space isn't perfect, and I think that's ultimately very true. So we came together and decided to take this time to try and make it better. Try some new ideas and experiments and hopefully get everyone to collaborate with us. That new frontier is what’s going to start in our ecosystem in the next, probably, two weeks, which we're excited about.”
With the hope of further growing community engagement, LNRZ has plans to release new infrastructure later this month. “We're releasing a new vehicle to further support music in the space. Something we hope a lot of community members will get involved in and something that we can get excited about on a weekly basis that's not just collecting music.”
Looking beyond music NFTs, the hope is to create multiple revenue streams for artists and various avenues for community growth. “We don't want to just release music NFTs, we want to actually promote the growth of the space. And in order to do that, we need to start having deeper conversations, rather than just what the next drop looks like. That's the goal with this side project. We have a lot of other people in the music community backing it, so this won't be just a LNRZ project. We're spearheading it, but we want to rally the troops. It will hopefully be one of the bigger democratic approaches to growth in this space. We want to see a lot of people win, and a lot of people benefit from this.”
Scaling, in Reo’s mind, is a matter of continuing to build the curation vehicle while also cultivating an environment and culture that attracts a further reach of community and artists. “I think music NFTs will be our bread and butter for a long time, but the goal isn't to just be the best at doing music NFTs. The goal is to service the artists in the best possible way better than anyone else can do it. We got to build this thing into a place where everyone wants to be or work alongside with. Do a whole bunch of good shit and work hard, and I think we make that a reality.”
Reo maintains this attitude as both artist and founder. Choosing to mint “what it’s like to lose” for free to close out HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1 in collaboration with NOISE, Reo’s current focus is on accessibility and exposure. His main concern is getting people excited about the space and the music in it.
“I do not think that a lower price point devalues art. I do think that it makes it more accessible, but that does not mean that it's necessarily worthless,” says Reo. “What is more important to me, a $1,000 or 1,000 people who believe in what we're trying to build here? And I think the honest answer is 1000 people who believe in what we're trying to do here. That's what I'm excited about. More people hearing what we're working on. More people listening to my music, I would take that 10 out of 10 times.”
Acknowledging the layers involved, Reo adds that there’s a “time and place for everything,” referencing J Cole’s 2013 Dollar & A Dream tour where tickets were priced at one dollar as a poignant example of when the time was right for such an approach. “That was how he really had explosive growth. He wanted to do something big for his community, and the people who truly believed in his music. That doesn't mean that the show was actually worth $1. I think there was way more value in that show. It just all depends on how you look at it.”
Seeking new perspectives as he continues to workshop his artistry, his business, and his personal development, Reo Cragun maintains a sense of rare humility and openness. “I'm not good at taking credit for a lot of the accomplishments and accolades underneath my belt. Oftentimes, it’s not necessary,” says Reo. “I try to be a student first. I think that getting ahead of yourself, and thinking too highly of yourself can prove to be dangerous. So, I don't take myself too seriously.”
With a tempered, thoughtful, and meticulous Reo running LNRZ, he opens the door for his more audacious side to come out and play in his music. “I'd be lying if I didn’t say sometimes those thoughts enter, and I do take myself too seriously.” Capturing this relatable human balance in the character of Craig, Reo makes room for all his dualities to shine. “I'm excited. Craig is back.”
Collect Music NFTs from HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1. “what it’s like to lose” is the sixteenth track to be released from NOISE, for HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1. “what it’s like to lose” is dropping on Sound at 2pm PST on June 22, free to mint for a week.
HIGH FREQUENCY Volume 1 is a compilation album curated by NOISE, with 16 tracks released on Sound. The album features new songs from artists we believe represent the values of web3 and whose work will be essential to every music NFT collector’s set in the future.
Collect and add HIGH FREQUENCY writing NFTs to your digital library. There are 10 editions of this article available for 0.003 ETH on Mirror.