When Inder Phull was still in college, he had strong connections to people in the music, skateboarding, and fashion industries. “I used to notice brands would try to enter these cultural verticals, and would always get it wrong,” Phull says. So in 2012, he started KRPT Group, an agency that connected 1,000 or so global influencers (before influencers were a thing) in order to develop creative campaigns to help large brands, including Lacoste, Disney, and HSBC, connect with consumers. The company, which he ran for six years, was his playground — and his proving ground — for an evolving career that would continue to explore the connections between brands, technology, and media.
“I was really focusing on how we can use technology to create these incredible campaigns and experiences for people to engage with,” says Phull. “So I got deeply involved at the intersection of a lot of incredible tech from VR and mixed reality to interactive gamification systems.”
In 2016, Phull earned the prestigious Visionaries Award from IMS (International Music Summit), the most important annual conference for electronic music. His presentation focused on his vision that “blurring the lines between music, blockchain, and interactive content, will become the new revenue drivers for the music industry,” Phull says. The award gave him not only recognition but access to influential mentors, like his future PIXELYNX co-founder, Ben Turner, the co-founder of IMS. Phull decided the time was ripe to move on to building his own technology company. He moved to Los Angeles, an epicenter of the electronic music industry, and began to work on a business plan.
"I think building in the pandemic was to our advantage. The idea of people working in physical spaces suddenly disappeared."
The idea revolved around Phull’s thesis that music and gaming would come together to “become the new canvas for artists to express themselves” and would open up completely new ways for fans to interact with and consume content. And artists would be better able to protect their assets and generate revenue. He reached out to electronic music artist deadmau5 who, as it turned out, was already building his own game. The two decided to join forces with Turner and music industry veterans Richie Hawtin and Dean Wilson, to found PIXELYNX.
The company will launch its first mobile game in May 2022 and will give fans the ability to collect interactive music experiences and music NFTs. On the backend, the game serves artists by giving them an expanded canvas on which to easily create content, as well as connect and collaborate with their fans. In the meantime, PIXELYNX gave the world a taste of its capabilities late last year with a ground-breaking music video produced with deadmau5. Co-created by fans entirely inside a game engine, Phull says the video “is a good example of where our mechanic is going in the future. It's co-creation of incredible interactive experiences, where fans and artists make the experience together.”
While the idea for PIXELYNX took shape before the pandemic, Phull says that when COVID hit, “it was very clear that our idea was even more important now than it ever was before, because we saw revenues in the music industry suddenly shrink.” Artists who relied solely on live shows and merch sales for revenue were hamstrung by the lockdown. But when rapper Travis Scott gave a concert inside the wildly popular video game, Fortnite, Phull’s thesis was validated. “I think building in the pandemic was to our advantage,” he says. “I think the idea of people working in physical spaces suddenly disappeared.” That proved true when it came to employees as well. Phull and his partners were able to connect with a global talent pool and quickly grew their team to 23 employees and 60 external developers.
Phull, a founding member of Cointelegraph Innovation Circle, thinks that in these nascent days of NFT and blockchain, the creation of communities of like-minded people is essential for sharing knowledge and building visibility. His first article is in the works, he says. “Being part of communities [like Cointelegraph Innovation Circle] where you may find new ways to collaborate and connect technologies is huge,” he says. “It's the promise of what I think this whole ecosystem will provide.”