Creative studio Sturdy has teamed with Shawn Mendes manager Andrew Gertler to launch STURDY.exchange, a new NFT marketplace for artists, Variety can exclusively reveal. After a beta launch last week that sold out of a 5,000-piece art project by Somehoodlum (Drake, 21 Savage), STURDY.exchange is now live with a collection of original music, film and photography featuring the band Death From Above, artist Franky Aguilar and photographer/filmmaker Misha Vladimirskiy.
Each NFT comes with potential access to autographed memorabilia, meet and greets and live performances. New NFT drops will go live each week, including a forthcoming collaboration with Jamaican-born/Canadian-based hip-hop producer Boi-1Da and Bacardi.
As previously reported, Somehoodlum designed the characters for the new Amazon adult animated comedy “Fairfax,” which premieres Oct. 29. After a four-year break without new music, Death From Above will hit the road starting March 5 in Philadelphia in support of its 2021 album “Is 4 Lovers.”
Sturdy is known for its tour design work with top acts such as Mendes, Travis Scott, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, and its merch and artwork for acts such as Olivia Rodrigo and Rosalia. “We started Sturdy three years ago with the goal to empower artists,” says Sturdy co-founder Tyler Henry, who is also a managing partner at Range Media Partners. “Their work has been exploited throughout the history of entertainment, so we set out to build a company by artists, for artists. Sturdy.exchange was our next chapter in that mission.”
“The Sturdy team has been working as creatives with some of the top names in music for over five years, and they understand the existing pain points artists and music releases face,” Gertler tells Variety. “Watching their first drop sell out in 24 hours while building in stealth mode was so great to see and just the start for this new artist- and fan-focused collectibles platform.”
Sturdy.exchange recently secured $4.3 million in Series Seed funding, led by Hex Capital’s Ali Saheli with participation from Gertler, Appworks, Dapper Labs, Bronco Ventures, TheVentureCity and Coinbase Ventures. In addition to Tyler Henry, the Sturdy and Sturdy.exchange leadership team includes Kevin Henry, Connor Moy, Matthew Goulet, Sandro Tolentino and Adrian Martinez.
Adds Gertler: “I’m a huge fan of what Dapper Labs has built with the Flow blockchain ecosystem and NBA Top Shot, and what they’ve done paving the way for more amazing consumer-friendly products to be built on Flow.”
NFTs remain red-hot commodities in the music space, with Lil Nas X recently announcing his participation in TikTok’s first officially minted NFT collection and Kings of Leon’s NFT album “NFT Yourself” having raised more than $2 million, including more than $600,000 that directly benefited Live Nation’s Crew Nation fund for touring crews, according to creative agency Night After Night. Will.i.am also recently joined Jeffrey Katzenberg in a group of investors to fund the new NFT startup platform Cent.