Hello World

| 4 min read

Neumes were some of the first forms of music notation, the predecessor of modern musical notes. It was early technology that empowered those that could decipher it with the knowledge of how to play any music written in it.


HIFI Labs launched the musicOS project last month, with a focus on providing a homepage for Web3 Music by building an application on top of open data.

Through our discovery phase we’ve realised that it will be beneficial to separate the data layer out under its own name and organisation, giving it full freedom to operate in a decentralised manner and be entirely open source. We call this neume and are supporting it as a standalone project.

There’s a careful balance to strike when straddling product discovery and open-source; perceived conflicts, promoting genuine positive engagement, while ensuring that momentum and funding are in place to build what’s needed. By supporting open source projects alongside musicOS, HIFI Labs is committing to the future of public goods while ensuring speedy and iterative application development.

We believe that open source is fundamental to the future of Web3 and we want to lead by example. To this end, Dan has joined HIFI Labs to drive forward open source projects; to focus on initiating, supporting, and backing open source development, and working with the HIFI team to look at how we can work in more collaborative ways across all our activities. Tim is leading the technical development of neume.


neume’s goal is to build a socially scalable and open-source metadata retrieval, indexing, and management infrastructure for Web3 Music.

neume is tasked with indexing all activity within the emerging Web3 Music industry. It will provide the infrastructure needed to easily spin up platforms that experiment with showcasing Web3 Music and the endless potential of deeper connections between Artists and Fans.

Activity within neume, at least within the first three months, can be categorised across three distinct areas:

  • Schema: Collaboration with the wider Music NFT space to align on more standard methodology to organise the data and relationships generated through minting activity.
  • Strategies: Developing data retrieval through Extract Transfer and Load (ETL) strategies to a point where any engineer can bring their own code/platforms and execute.
  • Use Cases: Working with projects that are experimenting in the space to explore further specific use cases to expand the utility of neume.

Our documents within the neume github provide a deeper look at the current and planned technical and social architecture.

The focus within neume is to build infrastructure that will underpin future platforms in a public and open way, so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the current music industry where data is siloed and innovation is stymied.

Building towards Social Scalability

The defining quality of the neume project is its drive towards increasing social scalability through facilitating an implementation process that seeds and builds the momentum of decentralised contribution through network effects.

Social Scalability is the idea that modularisation, trust minimisation, standardisation, and an integrative approach toward dealing with conflicts can vastly accelerate and, most importantly, scale an open source project’s number of participants:

  • Having observed the lessons of prolific modern web3 projects, we aspire for neume’s strategy GitHub repository to be maintained by hundreds of contributors by outlining the ETL process’s interfaces as snapshot.org did with their brilliant strategies repository.
  • With our intentionally heavy-descriptive and rule-based reliant approach for defining a new metadata schema for music, and built-in semantic versioning, we’re hoping to instigate an explosion of neatly version-tagged schemas. Setting the scene and seeing what happens can be programmer’s anarchy, but it has worked fantastically well in the open source space for years.
  • By prioritising licensing code under the GPL where possible, we set forth in creating a lasting and interest-driven ecosystem; non-captive by legacy corporate interest and thus trust-minimising among the diverse set of newly emergent Web3 Music projects.
  • While the threat of “exit to the courts” will always exist, a well operating neume will reduce the requirement for out-of-system post-event recourse through social scalable mechanisms; reducing the potential risks for individuals collaborating online by mandating adherence to the system’s architecture.

We’re conscious of our approach’s apparent fragility at the moment, for example, “Why aren’t you using IPFS? What about TheGraph?”. Through implementing prototypes that interface with both of these technologies and by talking to our peers, it’s clear that significant foundational effort is required to bring the music industry’s infrastructure into the 21st century and therefore a novel approach is required.

In the meaning of Glen Weyl’s “Radical Markets”, we at neume are “music radicals”. To bring about productive change and accommodation for the changing media landscape, we’re committing ourselves to help with the best of our abilities.

Looking forwards

Regarding the data types that neume will seek to provide access to, the first step is around activity generated through the sale of music NFTs. As artists continue to experiment with social tokens they too represent an area of significant value for aggregation and indexing.

Thinking longer-term, identity and its resolution across multiple accounts, social interactions (follows, playlists), next-generation NFTs (such as “account-bound” tokens), all present interesting opportunities to further the contextual picture that neume can provide to developers.

Furthermore, once a foundation has been established, we can look into things like the right to state claims (for example, identity x a claim = relative authority around that claim), thinking about licensing relative to web3 music, e.g. can we build standard licenses that people can use similar to the different popular OSS license types.

As has been said many times, we are very early on this collective journey towards forging a new music industry. neume represents an opportunity to build in the true spirit of Web3; a credible neutral public good.

How you can get involved

Activity towards this goal is already underway and we’d love your help.

  • neume github: take a look and see if there’s anything you can contribute towards.
  • neume section within the HIFI discord: come and join the discussion.

Success for neume comes through collaboration; to this end we are rolling out an Open Tasks Board that catalogues issues available for open source development. Equally, we’d love to chat if you have any ideas or think you can assist in its development in a more involved capacity.