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What the Dash DAO Can Learn From Black Metal

The other night I was watching the youtube channel “The Punk Rock MBA” with Finn McKenty. McKenty’s channel is a really interesting hardcore music channel presented from a marketing perspective. In his video “Why Do People Like Black Metal?”, he made some points I found surprisingly relevant for the Dash DAO. While I’m not going to insult anyone’s intellect by trying to claim that Dash and black metal are analogous, there are reasons why black metal is popular and I think we can learn from them. 

Tribalism Is A Marketing Tactic

McKenty’s first main point in his video is about how black metal capitalized on the tribal nature of people to build a movement. If you aren’t aware, black metal is an extreme form of metal music where the practitioners wear spikes and leather, paint their faces in corpse-paint, and use overtly satanic and occult imagery, and their music consists of screaming vocals, tremolo guitar picking, and very high tempo drumming. Their sound and image is very identifiable, and like it or not, people are drawn to the extreme and that which stands out. Black metal is not really my cup of tea but a lot of people like it and identify with it. They have built a very recognizable tribe. 

Tribalism is generally denounced in the greater crypto community, which is understandable. Tribalism can lead to intolerance, toxicity, and outright hatred. It can lead to intellectual and emotional inbreeding. People can envelop themselves with the tribe so thoroughly that they put the tribe ahead of everything, even basic morality. However, tribalism has many benefits too; there’s a reason that people have been forming tribes since the beginning of time. Tribes provide safety and protection to members, they hold members accountable for their actions, and they create a necessary barrier of entry by vetting members before acceptance. We form tribes in all aspects of our life. They are inevitable and we need to embrace them, not denounce them. 

Since tribalism is so integral to humankind, it can harnessed as a marketing tactic. It creates an “us against them” sort of bond within the community, and if there’s an ideological reason for the existence of the tribe, it’s also something to rally behind. In the case of black metal, the movement’s genesis was a response to the stagnating death metal scene where increasingly more derivative and uninspired music and bands were being robotically churned out. Where death metal was becoming overly technical and over-produced, black metal did the opposite by putting out lo-fi music and giving general musical ambiance precedence over technicality. They also eschewed the common street clothes worn by death metallers and instead wore the extreme clothes I mentioned above. Basically, they rejected what was popular and did the complete opposite. Black metal positioned itself as the saviors of the greater extreme metal genre, and since people are naturally drawn to champions of cause, a tribal community emerged and became a point of focus for marketing their movement. 

Like black metal, Dash can position itself as a savior. Where projects like Bitcoin are abandoning their original intent of p2p currency and bleating out economic nonsense like “store of value IS its utility”, Dash has stayed true to Satoshi’s vision. We’ve never lost sight of the end goal, namely upending the global system of centralized economic control and providing an alternative built around the individual’s ability to own and control their finances, and thus their life. That’s a very powerful message that we can grow our tribe around. 

Storytelling and Characters

The absurdity of black metal and its community naturally creates and attracts very strong characters. While most of these characters aren’t exactly the type you want to introduce to your family, they nonetheless are compelling. They are so extreme in their presentation and behavior that they’re impossible to ignore. This is what other crypto’s have and what Dash lacks: “extreme” personalities leading their respective communities (though certainly not to the same degree of extreme as the black metallers). There is no extreme personality in Dash that people can gravitate to. 

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, since Dash is a DAO, we’re naturally resistant to strong central figures of seeming authority. Even Ryan Taylor, the CEO of DCG and closest thing we have to a central leader, shows great deference to the network. However, while an extreme personality surviving the DAO is unlikely, we as individual members of the DAO can be the extreme personalities in our regular world and achieve the same results but in a more decentralized manner. In whatever world you live in, be an extreme personality. Be impossible to ignore and then use that to draw attention to Dash. Find whatever systematic parts of your world that are broken, be outspoken about them, and use the conversational opportunities you’ve created to introduce Dash as a solution. 

Be Genuinely Different

The last of Mckenty’s points that I want to discuss is about differentiating oneself. Not to state the obvious, but you can’t be a leader if you’re like everyone else. In this the great battle for crypto supremacy, we’re all trying to present ourselves as being the best. We brag about decentralization, we talk about about who has the fastest transactions, about who can scale, who has the best privacy, etc. The problem with this approach though is that nobody outside of crypto cares. And why does nobody care? The hard truth is that nobody cares because nobody uses crypto. Actual, real world retail usage of crypto accounts for 0% of the global economy. It doesn’t matter if your project has the best product if nobody is using any project’s products. 

If nobody is using crypto and doesn’t care that we’re the best product, we are wasting our resources marketing ourselves as such. I think we need to scale back that approach and do the opposite; we need to instead personify the DAO and show how we’re saving the world. For example, it’s not the Dash cryptocurrency system that enables a decentralized charity in Venezuela, it’s the Dash DAO feeding hungry school kids. It’s not the Dash cryptocurrency system that facilitates payment rails in the unbanked cannabis industry, it’s the Dash DAO fighting back against an immoral and tyrannical drug war. It’s not the Dash cryptocurrency system that enables instant transactions on and off exchanges because of InstantSend technology, it’s the Dash DAO empowering you to make more money faster. We need to harness the uniqueness of the DAO and present it as a savior. This will allow us to stand out in a crowded field of clones and bad projects. 

Conclusion

To date, Dash’s marketing efforts have been fruitless. We’ve been at this for nearly six years and our reputation within the crypto community still doesn’t match reality and we’re essentially unknown in the so called “real” world. We need to stop the “me too” mentality of promoting ourselves as being the best and instead say “Hey, look at us, we’re saving the world. Join us or die” We need to make the Dash DAO impossible to ignore. 

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The Problem With Dash’s Perception And How To Fix It – Part 2

Developing Our Narrative

As discussed in Part 1, Dash doesn’t have an outspoken leader in the way that most of the other top coins have, and the direct result of this is that we aren’t defining our narrative as well as they do. While those other projects have that one person that the media, investors, speculators, etc can focus on, due to our decentralized nature, we instead have a lot of smaller voices having equal weight all telling a slightly different story. This leads to a lack of clarity in our brand. 

First, when I say “defining our narrative”, I’m not talking about our capabilities or our definition; I don’t mean “Dash is digital cash” or the “so easy your grandmother can use it” mantra. Rather, I’m talking about defining the image we want people to have when they hear “Dash” and something we as a community can rally around.  Right now, our story is defined in a large part by trolls and fudsters, which is doubly unfortunate. Not only are we not perceived in the image we wish, but we waste an inordinate amount of time fighting those who push these false narratives. What we need is a cohesive idea about who we are and the role we play. For example, a community member recently commented about how the BTC narrative is falling apart which is leading many to abandon ship and how we can use this opportunity to present Dash as the savior of crypto. The idea of being the savior of crypto creates a powerful image and interfaces directly with people’s emotions. This emotive image is what we’re missing. 

In order to improve our brand clarity, we first need to define our story. There are a few ways we can develop this: we can pay an outside PR firm, we as a community can actively develop it, we can let DCG, Dash Force, or some other DFO come up with it, or we can do nothing proactive and simply allow the Dash narrative arrive naturally. All methods have their own strengths and weaknesses. 

Paying a PR/marketing firm to develop our story would probably be the easiest way as all we have to do is throw some money at them and sit back and let them do the work. The obvious problem with this method is that it’s unlikely that they’ll come up with an appropriate story simply because they can’t understand Dash without being a part of the community. It also goes against the community driven ethos of Dash. 

The second option is to let the community decide. If we go the community route, we again have a few options. We could create a channel on one of our various platforms and let anyone contribute and see what happens, we could create an invite-only group of some of the more cerebral members of the Dash community, or we could create a dedicated team where the members or leaders of the team are voted in by the network. While the community route is the most decentralized of the bunch, it’s also probably going to be the least efficient and productive. There’s the very real threat of ending up with “beige”. Design-by-committee is usually terrible because it lacks a singular vision and tries to please everyone so whatever they put out ends up being bland and boring. 

The third option would be to let DCG, Dash Force, or some other existing DFO come up with the story. This option is a hybrid as a singular entity does the work but this entity is still held accountable to the network. This will invariably lead to cries of centralization, but I think that’s a fairly superficial criticism. Remember, decentralization isn’t the goal, it’s the means to achieve a goal, namely eliminating points of failure and corruption. Since DCG, Dash Force, and other DFO’s are still accountable to the network, this slight centralization within the greater decentralized DAO may be an acceptable trade-off if it’s the most efficient way to come up with a quality brand image. 

The final way to define our story is to simply do nothing and let the narrative develop naturally. The problem with this is that the story will inevitably lack cohesion. Not only that, this is pretty much what we’re doing now and it clearly isn’t working. Our poorly defined image was the impetus for this article series after all. If we do nothing, I believe Dash will still be fine in the long run, but doing nothing proactive to improve our image will likely cause us to continue to languish in market cap, and while a high market cap isn’t our purpose, a low market cap does slow our ability to realize our potential.   

As far as my preference of the above options goes, I probably lean toward letting DCG or Dash Force come up with the narrative with a dedicated community team being my second choice. However, this article isn’t about my preference, it’s about getting a discussion started so we as a community can decide how to best improve our image. 

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The Problem With Dash’s Perception And How To Fix It – Part 1

Dash has a perception problem. We’ve been attacked relentlessly by trolls and FUDsters since the very beginning. I don’t think any other crypto project has had to endure the lies and twisted truths to the degree that we have. We’re accused of being a scam, of being trash, of being an insignificant clone, of being a shitcoin. It’s goddamn exhausting and it’s time to fix it. 

First, we need to identify why we are perceived so poorly; we can’t solve a problem if we don’t know the cause. While this is a complex issue with many facets that contribute to the problem, there are a few ideas in particular that I think need to be discussed. 

Cult of Personality 

Take a look at all of the (real) crypto’s ahead of us in market rankings – what do they have in common? Very strong and outspoken leaders, many of whom have turned into outright cult of personalities. Other than Bitcoin, all of these coins have one person you can identify as the de facto leader, the visionary. Ethereum has Vitalik Buterin, Bitcoin Cash has Roger Ver, Litecoin has Charlie Lee, EOS with Dan Larimer, Craig Wright with Bitcoin SV, Ricardo Spagni of Monero, etc. Bitcoin is a little different because its visionary and founder(s), Satoshi Nakamoto, isn’t known and disappeared many years ago. While I believe that Ryan Taylor, the CEO of DCG, is a terrific leader and has built a really solid foundation to grow from, he simply isn’t the leader of Dash, he’s the leader of DCG. That’s a fundamental difference from our competitors. The only person in Dash who could rightfully fulfill this role is Evan Duffield, the founder of Dash, but he isn’t interested, which is perfectly fitting because we’re a DAO. We’re aren’t just giving lip service to decentralization, we actually walk the talk.     

The immediate and direct effect of not having a centralized project leader is that our ability to control our narrative and get appropriate media coverage is diminished, which in turn hurts our valuation in a market based on hype, not fundamentals. Loud and brash garners more attention than quiet and dedicated. Our competitors can say whatever they want about us and we don’t have that strong personality to counter them and whom we can rally behind. There are a number of us who fight the FUD to the best of our abilities, but we’re not the leader of Dash; our messages don’t carry the weight and authority that a project leader does. 

Am I saying that we need a cult of personality to rally behind to be successful? No, absolutely not. Based on our ethos, a centralized leader really can’t exist, and if one ever comes to the forefront, be wary as that person is likely trying to rebuild Dash into their image for their personal gain. Instead of looking for a cheerleader, we have to do the opposite. We need to focus on utility instead of hype, deliverables instead of promises. The path to redeeming our perception is to deliver an amazing product and get it into the hands of so many people that we can’t be ignored and the FUD won’t matter. 

Unfortunately, this downside to this approach is that it’s slow and requires patience and dedication – we have to be the tortoise, not the hare. We need to play the long game. Dash is an unstoppable force, don’t ever forget that. One thing we can do right now though to make up for a lack of a distinct leader is to compensate with quantity. We need to mobilize as many people as we can to get the word out. We need more people willing to get into the trenches and fight the FUD and lies. Anytime someone spreads a lie about Dash, a dozen of us need to pop up and counter with facts and logic. It should be our goal that no lie or FUD of Dash is ever left uncontested. If you’re a Dash supporter and you aren’t active on social media – why not? We need you! 

To aid in the media battle, I will be creating a resource section on this site where I’ll develop and share articles and arguments you can use or direct people toward. 

Stay tuned for Part 2

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