Investment Notes: Seminal

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November 13, 2023

Unlocking the Commercial Potential of Art: A Revolutionary Marketplace for Artists and Businesses

We are excited to announce our investment into Seminal, a trailblazing startup looking to create an equitable copyright register fit for a global, digital world. Investible led the Melbourne-based startup’s $3m Pre-Seed round, with participation from a collective of strategic angel investors.  

With a digitally-focused approach to the commercialisation of art, Seminal has a vision to revolutionise the way it is licensed, monetised, and integrated into the brand strategies of other businesses.

How art-related trade works now

Seminal addresses a longstanding challenge in the art world – the untapped commercial value of art intellectual property (IP).  

Many artists and estates possess valuable artworks, however once these are sold, the original owners (the owners of the IP), would not derive further benefit from the art (even if the art is bought and sold many times over). In addition, many estates are unaware of the true value of their IP, which is the ability to license, protect, and reproduce art for commercial use.  

On the other hand, businesses and brands are seeking to incorporate art into their inventory, boosting sales and brand recognition.

This is where accessibility has been the issue for both artists and businesses. Keith Haring’s, perhaps one of the most commercialised artists in recent times, goal was “getting the work out to the public at large”. Haring accomplished that with drawings in public spaces, most notably in New York subways, which he eventually had to stop because people were taking the subway drawings and selling them. And that’s the hurdle that businesses face, navigating the complexity of intellectual property rights.  

Previously, this required navigating complex copyright agencies, creating barriers for both artists and businesses. Seminal's platform utilises Web 3 technology and smart contracts to simplify this process, enabling artists to protect, license, and sell the copyright to their creations. This empowers businesses to seamlessly incorporate art into their branding while ensuring artists are fairly compensated for usage.

Founded with a mission to help artists unlock the full value of their creations, Seminal’s unique approach uses smart contracts to create a direct and efficient connection between artists and businesses. This approach not only streamlines the process but also ensures traceability and accurate compensation for artists. Additionally, Seminal is pioneering the fractionalisation of art, allowing individual portions of artwork copyright to be sold or licensed, further expanding the market's possibilities. Inherently, this would naturally create a positive feedback loop to increase the value and commercial value of the existing collection.

Not only were we impressed by the product, but Seminal’s visionary founder. Ward Williams grew up in a household reminiscent of a gallery, his passion and involvement for the art scene is apparent the minute you speak with him. Ward’s father, David Williams, owns an eclectic collection of art, from artists of Indonesia, New-Zealand, Mexico, New Guinea, New York, and Australia. This exposure spurred a desire to build a business that empowers artists to take control of their financial futures, so that they can continue to make meaningful works that enrich the world.

Ward Williams, Seminal founder

How Seminal addresses these issues

Unlocking Commercial Value of Art: Seminal's platform is a pioneer solution that empowers art estates and owners to fully monetise their creative assets. By enabling artists to protect, license, and sell the copyright to their artwork through smart contracts, Seminal creates a seamless way for artists to unlock revenue streams. This approach not only benefits artists but also increases awareness for their work, and its recognition to art buyers in the market.  

Direct Access to Digital Reproduction Rights: Their disruptive approach to reproduction rights replaces traditional copyright agencies with a direct connection between businesses and artists. This enables businesses to legally reproduce art for commercial use without the complexity and costs associated with intermediaries. This creates time efficiencies, reduces untraceable transactions and encourages further sales that aren’t restricted to a singular geographic location.

Seminal platform

The future of Seminal

Our team was highly impressed by Seminal's innovative offering and the significant value it brings to both artists and businesses. This is not only a first-mover advantage but also a solution that addresses a genuine need in the market. Seminal's tech-enabled approach stands out, eliminating the need for intermediaries and empowering businesses to access digital reproduction rights directly.    

We are excited to partner with Seminal as they pave the way for a future where art is seamlessly integrated into branding and commerce. With a visionary team, a unique value proposition, and a novel approach, Seminal is well-positioned to lead the transformation of the art market in the digital age.

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