What's Driving Solana's Come Back?

Deep dive into Solana ecosystem, from blockchain art, to airdrops and even memecoins...

Hello friends 👋,

Solana is spiking in interest, with SOL value increasing by +900% over the past year and 1.1M daily active wallets (vs. 300k on Ethereum), according to Messari Crypto.

Kicking off our first deep dive of the year, we’ll go deep into the Solana ecosystem, focusing on the crypto art scene.

Solana crypto NFT market

In today’s deep dive:

  1. What is Solana?

  2. What are the top Solana NFT marketplaces?

  3. What are Solana’s artists and artworks to watch?

  4. What’s the best Solana crypto wallet?

  5. Why is Solana's interest and value rising?

🧱 What is Solana?

Solana is a blockchain that uses SOL as its cryptocurrency. It is unique for different reasons, like being blazing fast and highly cheap gas prices. To accomplish this, it uses a hybrid between Proof of Stake (PoS) and Proof of History (PoH), the second being Solana's novel method.

Proof of Stake (PoS) is a blockchain consensus mechanism where users 'stake' their cryptocurrency as collateral to validate transactions. The more they stake, the higher their chances of being chosen to confirm transactions and earn rewards. It's energy-efficient and more scalable than older methods like Proof of Work.

Proof of History (PoH), on the other hand, is a unique approach. It creates a historical record of events, essentially a cryptographic timestamp, to establish the sequence and timing of transactions. This sequence ensures a consistent and verifiable order of events, significantly speeding up the transaction validation process on the blockchain.

🏪 Solana NFT marketplaces

The NFT scene on Solana has taken off at breakneck speed. But you'll notice it's mostly about profile pics and collectibles. That is why I've put a spotlight on generative, AI, and crypto art in this lineup of Solana NFT marketplaces. We're talking everything from 1/1 pieces to long-form, short-form, and multi-editions.

Exchange.art

Second to no one regarding artists’ release options (1/1s, multi-editions, and collections), exchange art is moving the needle in terms of the crypto art movement in Solana.

Code Canvas

Code Canvas powers long-form generative art using the curated model. So far, eight artists have released generative art collections. Stay tuned as I highlight some of this in a bit.

Magic Eden

This is the Opensea of Solana, indexing and supporting almost any NFT token minted in this blockchain. Magic Eden started in Solana but quickly expanded to other blockchains and now supports Bitcoin Ordinals, Ethereum, and Polygon. If you are looking for crypto art, this isn’t the place tho, as most of the collections are PFPs and collectibles.

Mallow.art

Mallow is unique because it offers 0% fees. This marketplace doesn’t charge anything for selling or collecting NFTs on Solana.

Other Marketplaces

Tensor looks more like the Solana version of Blur. It is also worth noting that Form Function, a popular NFT marketplace, was discontinued a few months ago.

Although there are plenty of options, the figures of galleries or memberships focusing on blockchain art haven’t matured or aren’t as popular. This could open the door for established digital galleries to expand their blockchain reach.

🖼 Solana’s Art and Artists

I've gotta say, I was pretty surprised to see how many artists are getting into minting on Solana. And it's not just a recent trend – some have been at it for over two years, so it's not just about jumping on the bandwagon.

As usual, I'm picking artists based on my tastes and criteria to spotlight a few who I think are pushing the art movement forward. Remember, this list has no definitive right or wrong, and I'm probably missing out on mentioning quite a few talented folks.

Scenes from a Train Window by Studio Yorktown.

Scenes from a Train Window by Studio Yorktown.

Long-Form Generative Art


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Curated Generative Art

"Modern Times" Curated 1/1 FF04

"Modern Times" Curated 1/1 FF04 by Eko33.

Crypto Art

saturn's dance by Lisanne Haack

saturn's dance by Lisanne Haack.

Photography

💵 Solana Crypto Wallets

Phantom

Phantom is the most popular option when it comes to Solana, as it offers an outstanding UI/UX and plenty of the features you are looking for. It recently integrated with Ethereum. You don’t need to look elsewhere, but an additional wallet caught my interest as they innovated in another area…

Backpack

Backpack is the first wallet for xNFTs… A novel innovation that some might call dynamic NFTs.

An xNFT can be a game, an NFT gallery, or a crypto price tracker - anything that can be written with executable code.

Besides common usages like transferring assets, it lets you message your friends in the app. Additionally, this wallet gained momentum as they released Mad Labs, one of Solana's hottest NFT projects (collectible side).

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📈 Why is Solana's interest and value rising?

Towards the end of 2023, Solana has been in the spotlight, and the value of different assets has been trending up aggressively. An easy way to measure popularity is by looking at Google Trends. Solana search traffic passed Ethereum in December 2023.

Solana vs Ethereum Google Searches

Solana crossed Ethereum in Google searches for the first time in December 2023.

To be fair, this example doesn’t count all the L2 chains that are part of the Ethereum ecosystem, such as Polygon, Base, Avalanche, Optimism, and others. It is hard for me to envision Solana being more popular in the long term, but we have to admit this looks intriguing…

SOL is up by 983% over the past year.

SOL is up by 983% over the past year.

Before we dig deeper, something is clear. The main reasons driving Solana's popularity aren’t purely related to blockchain or crypto art. Nevertheless, it is causing waves that extend to other places of the ecosystem, like artists and collectors becoming more interested in NFTs minted on Solana.

⛽️ Cheap Gas

On the surface, it's pretty obvious why they're a big deal ($0.00025 average cost per transaction!). But it's not just about the cost. Low gas fees make everything smoother and more user-friendly, like greasing the wheels for everything else. Whether you're creating art, collecting, setting up a smart contract, swapping coins, or grabbing an airdrop, the whole experience on the blockchain gets way more efficient.

Low fees aren't the whole story. If they were, blockchains like Tezos with even lower fees or Ethereum's Layer 2 solutions would be just as popular. There's more to it than just cheap gas…

🌎 Mature and Diverse Ecosystem

You've got everything from art curation gigs and art-centric DAOs to heavy hitters like DeFi, mobile apps, loyalty schemes, eco-friendly projects, and a whole universe of PFPs and collectibles. Feels like a wild mix of fun and serious business.

🐶 Shitcoin and Meme Coin Trading

Solana recently gained significant traction, partly thanks to the surge of meme coins. A notable example is Bonk, a meme coin initially released as a free airdrop a year ago. It gained extra attention among Solana phone Saga holders, boosting the device's demand and pushing prices up to $5,000 – a stark contrast to its initial lukewarm reception.

The real buzz began this month when Bonk saw a staggering 1,000% increase after landing spots on major exchanges like Binance and Coinbase. This surge revitalized interest in Solana's network shitcoin trading activity.

Bonk memecoin solana

💨 Airdrop Anticipation

A key factor behind the uptick in transactions and volume on the network is the anticipation of airdrops from numerous applications. This prospect has sparked a trend known as 'airdrop farming'’, where users - and often bots - engage with various applications in hopes of receiving substantial airdrops.

Plenty of protocols and decentralized applications previously mentioned, like marginfi, Phantom, Drift, Jupiter, and Tensor, are among those that have hinted at upcoming airdrops. This promise of potential rewards has increased activity and interest within the network.

The question is, how long will this last? Will users keep engaging with these applications even after the airdrops fade away?

Wrapping Up: Solana's Thriving Ecosystem and Rising Appeal

Diving into Solana's world was a revelation as I found an ecosystem much more mature than expected. From its blazing-fast speeds and dirt-cheap gas fees to its unique PoS and PoH combo, Solana is redefining efficiency in the crypto space.

Beyond just the tech, Solana's thriving with a diverse ecosystem. Platforms like Exchange.art and Code Canvas, together with an already vast group of artists, are leading the charge on the blockchain art scene, while there are a myriad of other interesting applications: xNFTs and DAOs to DeFi and mobile apps —the Solana phone, Saga, is sold out.

Memecoins like Bonk and the anticipation of juicy airdrops fuel activity and interest. There's a bit (maybe not just a bit) of 'airdrop farming' going on, but it's part of what makes the Solana universe so dynamic.

What's next for Solana? Will these trends continue, or will the hype fade?

Feel free to comment or reply to this email; always happy to hear your thoughts!

Until next time,

- Kaloh

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