Underscore LABS is a new division of the management company Underscore Talent which is striving to use Web3 technologies to foster a passionate community.
About Brandon Eng
Brandon Eng is a data scientist by trade who spent years building algorithms, analyzing data, and executing insights from that data. Previously, he worked in cloud computing at Amazon and within the fashion industry by analyzing data to help fashion brands like Adidas, Nike, Balenciaga, and Gucci, sell more clothing. After this, he worked in the music industry and helped identify and sign artists globally by helping some of the first viral records online.
After getting into the Web3 space, Brandon reconnected with a contact, Reza Idad, a Co-Founder and Partner at Underscore Talent, leading Brandon to launch Underscore LABS with them.
What is Underscore LABS?
Underscore LABS is a new Web3 Studio division focusing on the intersection of the entertainment industry, media, Web3, and community.
Brandon shares, “The mission is to build a next-generation, modern Web3 studio that is sitting at the intersection of Web 3, IP [intellectual property], and entertainment.”
He adds that they are focusing on three core things, talent, relevant IPs, and amplifying media.
“The first one is partnering with strong, culturally relevant IP from the NFT space and bringing that into the media entertainment industry. The second thing we’re really focused on is launching our own relevant IP into the space from our in-house studio, and the third thing is really figuring out how to amplify media and storytelling and the web by leveraging blockchain technology.”
Brandon explains that they are taking a unique approach to build Underscore LABS by building a community slowly and deliberately.
“I think what makes Underscore LABS different is the way we’re approaching it is so much more about slowly building community the right way, building excitement around a fandom of folks that care about pop culture and media and entertainment, and then launching projects off the backs of the community.”
As a result, the target audience for Underscore LABS is people that care deeply about pop culture, media, and entertainment.
“When it comes to the target folks we’re working with, I think it’s a lot of illustrators, storytellers, anyone that has something to share with their world through the medium of art. The big creatives.”
Underscore LABS’ Discord server called IN THE LAB also offers members exclusive weekly lives and programmed content with unfiltered access to professionals, tastemakers, and creatives from Web3, media, entertainment, music, and tech.
How Do NFTs Help Creators and Artists Build Their Businesses?
Brandon shares, “Philosophically, the way I view NFTs is sort of ownership to a certain community that an artist or creator builds. I think the interesting thing having worked on the K-pop side of things and in the Western market is about K-pop before Web3 came about, they really understand how to bridge the gap between the artist and the community.”
He adds that K-pop groups like BTS have a massive number of fans because of the way they engage heavily with fans online.
This engagement results in a passionate fan base that buys everything from these K-pop groups, which isn’t a trend often seen in Western music or entertainment.
“The ability to centralize their fandom and incentivize ownership. I think that is extremely special. I think you can now leverage the core technology that underlies and then let it bridge the one-to-one phantom experience between a creator, artist, musician, any sort of talent, and really help them get closer to the community.”
When creators build a deep, engaged community, the financial value of their community goes up from a business perspective, increasing monetization opportunities for the artist.
The Future of Web3
Brandon shares that the future of Web3 is combining Web3 technologies with traditional business components to leverage the audiences on Web3.
One way that Brandon anticipates this happening is through the fandoms people will be involved in. For example, Brandon shares that he grew up with Scooby-Doo and Dragon Ball Z, two fandoms featured widely in traditional media.
“I firmly believe that the next generation of IP for the incoming young kids growing up now isn’t going to come from NFTs. There’s no doubt in my mind that the next generation of strong culturally relevant IP that speaks to various cultural groups and niche groups around the world is going to come from the Web3 space, and I’m really excited for this industry.”
Brandon’s Biggest Career Highlight
Brandon shares that he grew up in a traditionally Asian-American household. He went to university to study Political Science but found that his skillset lent itself to data science, allowing him to leverage this skill to work within pop culture.
“I think Web3 really gave me the opportunity to take everything I learned from operating a business using data to marketing and moving the needle to pop culture by leveraging the Internet and now sort of being at the helm of something where I live and die by the consequences of the decisions that I make for the team. It’s really exciting for me.”
This opportunity is especially meaningful to Brandon because his parents were initially in disbelief that he left a stable job at Amazon and kept sizing down to smaller startups. Now, he’s been able to prove to himself and his family his success in business.
“I’ve never been more exhausted and tired, but at the same time, I’ve never been more excited to wake up.”
He adds that he is incredibly excited to be working with the partners at Underscore Talent, as they are some of the biggest managers in the media entertainment industry. The partners are also consistent early adopters of new marketing practices, such as being early to influencer marketing, the creator economy, and ad spending on YouTube.
“[They] manage some of the biggest artists on the planet early on to create a massive advertising startup and now launching Underscore Talent. They’re a bunch of extremely intelligent and accomplished folks.”