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🎤 Boy bands are big business

The Hustle

To our Japanese readers, you’d better be nice on the internet. A law that goes live today makes online insults a punishable offense. Consequences include fines of $2.2k and up to a year in jail.

In today’s email:

  • Boy bands: Have they peaked?
  • Chart: Why people buy NFTs.
  • Codie’s Corner: Every small biz is a media company.
  • Around the web: Cost-saving travel tips, retro games, all about JPEGs, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s podcast to hear about our discussion with the US Mint on why finding coins is so hard right now, and why simply minting more won’t solve the problem.

The big idea

Have boy bands peaked?

Boy bands have come a long way since Justin Timberlake fronted NSYNC with bleach blonde curls.

But with K-pop sensation BTS recently going on hiatus, there’s a chance the musical format has reached its economic pinnacle.


… is signed to Big Hit Music, a record label owned by the Hybe Corporation. Hybe went public on the Korea Stock Exchange KOSPI index in October 2020, and quickly became the country’s most profitable entertainment agency.

Hybe Corporation:

  • Derives ~90% of its revenue from BTS, which means its valuation is a fairly accurate estimation of BTS’ market cap
  • Reached a peak valuation of $13B in November 2021
  • Lost $1.7B in market cap after the band announced its hiatus earlier this month

Despite its recent losses, the company is still worth ~$4.5B.

But how does that translate to wealth for BTS members?

Not as well as you’d think. In 2022, the group’s collective net worth was estimated at ~$100m (~$14m per member). For comparison’s sake:

  • One Direction reportedly had a collective net worth of ~$398m before splitting in 2015 (~$80m per member)
  • The Jonas Brothers are reportedly worth a collective $150m (~$50m per member)

While it’s harder to pin down a reliable net worth for the early-aughts boy band elite in their heyday, it’s clear members of NSYNC and Backstreet Boys have done well for themselves.

But BTS may not be done

When the group announced its hiatus, they promised to return to making music together at some point (something Hybe Corporation must be pretty excited about).

While being in a boy band certainly offers a lucrative financial opportunity, the lifestyle isn’t without its faults. When looking back at his NSYNC days, Timberlake says, “I looked like a moron.”

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Delivery duo: Amazon bought a 2% stake in Grubhub with the option to expand it to 15%. The company will offer Prime members a free one-year subscription to the service.

Sad song: Deezer, a French music streaming service and Spotify competitor, saw its shares fall 35% during its market debut Tuesday.

Triopoly: Amazon, Microsoft, and Google accounted for 65% of global cloud service spending in Q1, up from 52% four years ago.

Voyager, a Toronto-based crypto lender, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The move follows Three Arrows Capital (3AC,) another crypto lender that filed for bankruptcy earlier this week.

Ben & Jerry’s is suing parent company Unilever to stop the sale of its ice cream biz in Israel to a licensee. Unilever acquired the brand in 2000. #ecommerce-retail

Robot pizza: Picnic Works’ automated Picnic Pizza Station is expanding to more campuses following successful pilots at Texas A&M and the University of Chicago. #emerging-tech

Lockdown Mode: Apple introduced this new feature for iPhones Wednesday, purpose-built for people like politicians or activists, that limits the phones vulnerabilities from state-backed hackers. #privacy

Oy vey: Blockchain-based game Axie Infinity’s $540m March hack reportedly occurred after an engineer downloaded a PDF job offer, which turned out to have come from a North Korean hacking group posing as recruiters on LinkedIn. #fintech-crypto

Meta is suing Octopus Data, a Chinese tech company’s US subsidiary, claiming it offers data-scraping services for Facebook and Instagram. #big-tech

MFM: What does it mean to build a magnet, not a jail? Shaan Puri explains. #mfm

NFT chart

Selina Lee

Why do people buy NFTs?

The NFT market has seen some serious ups and downs.

DEXterlab, a digital asset discovery platform, recently polled its Twitter followers on why those who bought NFTs participated in such a volatile market.

Some bought NFTs to collect digital art, while others did it for various perks. NFTs with benefits (AKA “utility NFTs”) can score you:

  • Access to communities with virtual and IRL meetups, like Gary Vee’s VeeFriends
  • Access to games. For example, Axie Infinity players must buy three Axie NFTs to start
  • Real-life perks. Crypto Baristas is a coffee project that promises its NFT holders discounts at future cafes

But 64%, an overwhelming majority…

… are hoping to make money

While the NFT market has made some creators and traders a pretty penny — artist Pak sold his piece “The Merge” for $91.8m — it’s far from a sure bet.

Fine artist Takashi Murakami, whose physical works appear in art museums around the world, recently apologized to investors after the value of his NFT collection plummeted due to market conditions beyond his control.

Meanwhile, the median NFT price has dropped to ~$412 from ~$1.7k in April.

Still, interest in the space remains high, with players like Meta and eBay getting into the game — meaning many are still apt to take the risk.

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Free Resource

The key to nailing cold emails…

… is coming correct, of course. Being a bit shameless with it, too.

You have to champion what you do! Each send is a new opportunity to engage another person, so lead with what slaps and don’t look back. Make them crave more of your voice and value.

You know how we feel about email. The classic avenue of digital outreach is as beloved as it ever was, preferred by 80% of prospects.

We’ve bundled tips in this 5-minute video to help y’all increase engagement.

How to crush cold emails, by HubSpot

  • Write spicy headlines
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  • Press those pain points tho

Because honestly, the more it hurts…

Watch the quickie for constructive context.

On bold cold emailing →
Codie's Corner

Why small businesses should think like media companies

Everyone’s an influencer.

You may have heard that before. But I have a thesis that:

  • Every company will become a media company.
  • Every investor will become an influencer.
  • Every small business will become a micro media enterprise.

How do I know? Because of truck drivers. Do you know what truck drivers look like these days? I mean, I had a slightly different visual than this… (get it, girl).

My point is…

… I own a portfolio of dozens of boring businesses that weren’t exactly “tech-enabled” when I bought them (many still used fax machines).

And yet, there’s a sponge company out there with a ~$0 marginal cost of advertising, and 1.8m TikTok followers — Scrub Daddy.

The company:

If you own a business, I can’t imagine spending a better dollar than on growing your organic marketing.

Tell your story in an authentic, entertaining way on social media, and watch your competitors struggle to keep up.

For more Codie, check out her newsletter, Contrarian Thinking.

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🍞 On this day: In 1928, a Missouri bakery became the first to sell sliced bread using Otto Frederick Rohwedder’s bread-slicing machine, the greatest invention since wrapped bread — at least according to advertisements.

🖼️ That’s interesting: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the JPEG.

⛱️ How to: Consumer Reports has some tips for saving money on summer travel.

🎮 Cure boredom: Visit Best Old Games to play 600+ retro games, including some you can play right in your browser.

🐶 Aww: And now, the world’s cutest escalator.

NFT meme

No one could’ve seen that coming. (Source:

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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Jennifer “Bye Bye Bye” Wang.

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