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It seems like Keanu Reeves may have had a change of heart around NFTs. In December, the actor was sent into peels of laughter after my colleague Alex Heath asked him about the idea of digital scarcity and digital collectibles. Reeves commented that digital items are easily reproduced.
Now, though, he’s joined a project from Non-Fungible Labs, acting as an advisor for a program called the Futureverse Foundation, which aims to improve “the digital and physical worlds through the support of diverse artists and creative communities.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, that involves introducing traditional artists to NFTs and funding their efforts.
The art connection here isn’t exactly a surprise — Reeves’ partner, Alexandra Grant, is a prolific artist whose work has been featured in plenty of exhibits, according to her website. She’s also an advisor to the foundation, and she features heavily in a video released by Non-Fungible Labs to announce and explain the initiative.
In that video, Grant talks about how NFTs can be used to bring artists into “a new possible economy.” That lines up well with what the Futureverse Foundation’s website describes as its mission: to build “a metaverse where anyone can access and create in an open, rich, and diverse world.” Still, the foundation’s first charitable grant mainly seemed to focus on the physical world rather than the metaverse: it gave art historian Nana Oforiatta Ayim 100,000 euros to help her curate Ghana’s exhibition at an international art show in Venice. (To be clear, I think that sounds like a pretty admirable donation.)
In a press release from the Futureverse Foundation, Grant calls it “one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on” and says she looks forward to “dreaming up a new model for arts philanthropy.” Meanwhile, Reeves’ statement reads a bit more generic:
I am honored to be joining Non-Fungible Labs’ efforts in cooperation with Alexandra Grant for the extraordinary program and opportunity of the Futureverse Foundation, in support of artists and creators globally.
Still, teaming up with an NFT project as an advisor for its charitable foundation that explicitly aims to get artists into the metaverse is quite an evolution from laughing at the idea that NFTs could be valuable. Non-Fungible Labs has somewhat addressed the video of Reeves laughing at the idea of NFTs, which someone posted in response to its Futureverse Foundation announcement on Twitter along with the question, “Did he change his opinion about NFTs?” The company responded: “more than an NFT.”
Spotify has a brand new original topping its podcast chart, but it would probably prefer if you didn’t know about it.
Last week, Spotify launched a new pop culture show, Breaking Bread, on Spotify Live. Breaking Bread’s recordings now rank at number 11 on Spotify’s top podcast chart after holding the number two spot for most of the week, putting it just behind Joe Rogan. The show’s popularity — and the reason the company might be staying quiet about its new hit — is due to its two hosts: Jackie Oshry Weinreb and Claudia Oshry (aka Instagram’s girlwithnojob), who come with a huge built-in audience. While the sisters have delivered their massive fanbase to the app, they have a controversial history that could be problematic for Spotify at a time when the company is being extra cautious.
The sisters had a short-lived show in 2018 on Oath, Verizon’s now-defunct media brand, that was canceled after The Daily Beast reported that their mom is notorious conspiracy theorist and anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller and that the sisters had both previously posted racist and anti-Muslim statements on social media. The sisters apologized, deleted their Twitter accounts, and relaunched with The Morning Toast as an independent podcast. Some fans have been uncomfortable with their unwillingness to disavow their mother’s activities, but their audience is undeniable. The Oshry sisters have more than 3.5 million Instagram followers between them, their flagship podcast currently ranks in the top 100 on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and they maintain what appears to be a robust Patreon base (the stats are now private, but as of 2019, they had more than 9,000 subscribers). The Oshry sisters did not respond to a request for comment.
But if the Oshry sisters are controversial, you wouldn’t know it from their show. The Morning Toast is mostly run-of-the-mill pop culture fare, and Breaking Bread is much of the same: Kim Kardashian’s Marilyn Monroe dress, Hailey Bieber’s skincare line, Britney Spears’ wedding. The Spotify Live platform also allows fans to participate in the show, asking for advice on light topics like puppy training and bachelorette woes.
Following the model of other Spotify Live shows like After Hours with Alex Cooper and Dating Harry Jowsey, the original show takes place on the Live app and is posted as a podcast on Spotify later. Unlike those shows, Breaking Bread received no promotion from Spotify. The company did not issue a press release about the show and did not push it on any of its social channels. The only promotion seems to have come from the Oshrys themselves on their social accounts and podcast.
That may have something to do with the backlash Spotify has received for its nine-figure deal with controversy machine Joe Rogan. Rogan has the undisputed biggest podcast in the world, and as Spotify grows its podcasting might, the company needs him. But Spotify’s unfailing support for Rogan has caused some reputational, if not monetary, damage. Spotify declined to comment on why they chose to partner with the Oshry sisters or whether their past has anything to do with the lack of promotion for the show, but with the way the company has approached Breaking Bread, it seems to be going for the Oshrys’ substantial fanbase without the baggage.
Even if Breaking Bread itself is inoffensive, it is debuting at a time when Spotify is being particularly careful. Last week, the company announced a Safety Advisory Council to assist in its content moderation policies (a move Geller called “a government sponsored internal coup”) and cut a new deal with Integral Ad Science to firm up its brand safety analytics for advertisers.
But the company also is trying to boost its social audio app Spotify Live (previously branded Spotify Greenroom) at a time when social audio is flailing, and Breaking Bread may be its biggest hit yet. If the Oshrys continue to deliver numbers, the show will be hard for the company to ignore.
Facebook’s app for smart TVs, which lets users tune into various videos, shows, and livestreams on the platform, may no longer be available on Apple TV, as first reported by 9to5Mac. Some users say they’re no longer able to access the app after its most recent update.
In a thread on MacRumors, one user shares an image of the notice they received after attempting to open Facebook Watch on their Apple TV 4K: “The Facebook Watch TV app is no longer available, but you can still find lots of videos on Facebook at www.facebook.com/watch.” Several other users report having the same experience.
Facebook rolled out its Watch app on Apple TV in 2017 after first launching it on Samsung smart TVs. The app is also available on various other smart TVs and consoles, as well as on Facebook’s mobile app and desktop site. Users who still want to use the Watch app on Apple TV should be able to cast Watch from their phone to their TV, but this obviously isn’t as convenient as simply opening up an app.
It’s unclear if the Facebook Watch app is no longer available due to a glitch triggered by the recent update, or if Facebook pulled the app from Apple TV entirely. Apple TV is still listed as one of Facebook Watch’s supported platforms. The Verge reached out to Apple and Facebook with a request for comment but didn’t immediately hear back.
The latest version of Apple’s long-rumored mixed reality headset features the company’s recently announced and 16GB of RAM, according to Mark Gurman. The Bloomberg reporter shared the tidbit of information in his latest newsletter – along with details on a “deluge” of devices Apple plans to release over the next year, including a new .
As , most recent reports, including those from Apple analyst and , have suggested the augmented and virtual reality headset would feature two processors. According to Kuo, one of the SoCs would have the same capabilities as the company’s M1 chip, while the other would be a lower-end chip designed to handle data from the device’s sensors.
After years of rumors, there’s been increasing evidence Apple is getting closer to the day when it will finally announce its mixed reality headset. In May, a Twitter user found evidence Apple likely used a shell company to for “RealityOS.” Earlier in the year, developers also to the operating system in App Store upload logs. More recently, Tim Cook told he “couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities” presented by augmented and virtual reality, and told the publication to “stay tuned and you will see what we have to offer” on that front.
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