Non-futureable tokens?
March 16, 2023

FWB: Should musicians keep believing in NFTs?

"The market for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) may have collapsed over the last year, but independent musicians are still minting. Is this because the... other revenue options for musicians in a post-pandemic, inflationary economy, in which media is free for everyone with a data connection, have dried up?" - composer and strategist Marc Moglen asks in his FWB piece. "NFTs hold great promise — especially for musicians looking to supplement existing or dwindling monetization opportunities, and especially if enterprising companies manage to crack the code of usability, standardization, and bridging the 'one-way chasm'.”

Out of the pandemic and the shutdown, Trapital's Dan Runcie looks back at the ideas and trends that have started back at the height of the isolation age. He believes that some are destined to never achieve substantial success, such as Clubhouse, Bored Ape Yacht Club, artists immersed in digital environments, Community... A few might have a future - DEI initiatives that lead to real change, Verzuz, NFTs, while some are certain to stay - music rights sales and acquisitions, TikTok and short-form video, high prices for live entertainment...

Last week Snoop Dogg released his twentieth studio album, 'B.O.D.R. (Bacc On Death Row', while also releasing the album on the blockchain through a partnership with blockchain gaming platform Gala Games, via his 'Stash Box' NFTs, sold on Gala’s new Gala Music store. Snoop Dogg’s NFTs are limited to 25,000 and each ‘box’, includes 1 of 17 songs from 'Bacc On Death Row'. Each box costs $5,000. On Wednesday there were 16 thousand NFTs remaining, and if that means that the other 9,000 have been sold at the asking price – then the NFT sale has generated at least $45 million. If all 25,000 sell out, Snoop Dogg’s Stash Box NFT’s will have generated total revenues of $125 million, MBW points out.

Universal Music Group has inked an expansive global partnership with “avatar technology company” Genies to develop avatars and digital wearables for some of the world’s most influential and successful recording artists including Justin Bieber, J Balvin, Rihanna, Shawn Mendes and Migos. UMG and Genies will equip artists “with official virtual identities for use in Web 3.0 and the shifting age of the Internet”. Music Business Worldwide brings the whole story.

An interesting story in Consequence about the new ViroMusic project, which used a computer process called DNA Sonification which hunted through COVID-19’s genetic code, looking for stretches of the RNA that could be translated to music. An algorithm converted that RNA into musical notes and then turned those songs into NFTs.

"On Royal, the new NFT marketplace, artists can share ownership of their music with fans by issuing NFTs as a limited digital asset. Those NFTs may eventually include invites to events, community access, VIP experiences, merch, and more" - Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into the new platform, and adds - "Royal’s best value-prop is the opportunity for artists to identify and serve their earliest fans".

Former brothers in arms
June 29, 2021

Jay Z and Damon Dash NFT feud - explained

Dame Dash / Jay-Z

Damon Dash tried to auction off his ownership of the copyright to Jay Z’s first album, 'Reasonable Doubt'. At first, Dash wasn't so clear he didn't want to sell the entire Reasonable Doubt album as an NFT - he wanted to sell his one-third ownership share of Roc-a-Fella as NFT. However, Jay-Z raised a lawsuit, and on June 22, a New York judge ruled in favor of Jay-Z to stop the auction. Three days later, on 25th anniversary of 'Reasonable Doubt', Jay Z and artist Derrick Adams collaborated to auction NFT artwork for the classic album. Trapital explains the hassle.

What's a band to do?
June 16, 2021

Ted Gioia: How can artists use NFTs?

NFTs for music won’t really take off until (1) income streams are attached to the token, or (2) the owner’s name is commemorated (and displayed prominently) in a sufficiently elitist master-of-the-world manner - music writer Ted Gioia offers his opinions on NFTs, and raises some possibilities:

  1. A band could sell shares in its music, with potential for spinning off ownership of individual musicians as separate tokens
  2. Artists could do mergers
  3. Artists would be free to issue new shares
  4. When artists run into career problems, they could turn to their powerful billionaire owners for help in resolving them
  5. Fans would have endless opportunities for demonstrating their loyalty
  6. Artists would face the complex financial trade-offs

Zola Jesus / Nadya Tolokonnikova / ANOHNI

"I really like the parts of NFT that foreground the support of artists directly, and I love seeing whole new forms of art flourish in a new medium. But I think the financialization around the NFT space needs some heavy auditing... I don’t want people to bet on me like a racehorse” - Zola Jesus says to Pitchfork about NFTs, the latest creative-financial trend in music (and broader). Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova believes "NFTs are good because they claim that digital art is art, and they actually show that there is value in something that no one can touch”, whereas ANOHNI thinks "it’s shit".

Music technology and music industry Cherie Hu goes deeper into NFT. Her high-points:

  • Musicians have sold over 55,000 total NFTs since June 2020, worth over $60 million
  • Independent artists still run the show, but major artists and labels are quickly catching up
  • Several technical, legal and political challenges remain to mainstream NFT adoption in the music industry

YouTube star Chris Crocker, who shot to online infamy for their ‘Leave Britney Alone’ viral video, has sold the original clip as an NFT (non-fungible token) for 18.69 ether, which is roughly equivalent to around $41,000. Crocker explained to Business Insider that selling the video was their way of reclaiming the clip after years of relentless mockery and abuse. The money made from the sale would go primarily towards helping their grandmother, and their gender transition surgery.

Hopefully, it'll turn out better than Fyre
April 07, 2021

Ja Rule is selling the notorious Fyre Festival cheese sandwich tweet as an NFT

Ja Rule has teamed up with photographer Trevor DeHaas to sell the infamous cheese sandwich tweet from the ill-fated Fyre Festival as an NFT (non-fungible token), for an estimated price of $80,000. Tickets for the luxurious festival in the Bahamas ranged from between $4,000 to $12,000, however, the audiences that reached the island only got - the meagre snack. The Flipkick listing describes the tweet as a “Meme. Cultural touchstone. Cheese sandwich... The most iconic image from 2017’s most famous debacle". All proceeds are going towards the medical expenses for DeHaas’ daily dialysis and kidney transplant. Ja Rule recently sold his Fyre Festival logo oil painting in NFT for $122,000.

Ja Rule sold a non-fungible token, or NFT, of a painting of the ill-fated Fyre Festival logo for $122,000. The rapper told Forbes (via Complex) that he decided to sell the oil painting of the doomed festival's logo - which had been hanging in the festival's New York office while it was being planned - because he "just wanted that energy out". The artwork was accompanied by a handwritten note from Ja Rule which read "F**k this painting".

Non-fungible twin
March 15, 2021

Aphex Twin sells NFT artwork for $128,000

Aphex Twin sold a new unique piece of artwork in the form of an NFT for $128,000 on the cryptocurrency marketplace Foundation, NME reports. The piece, titled afx\/weirdcore\blockscanner, is a collaboration between Aphex and regular collaborator and visual artist Weirdcore, and features music from the DJ and “additional technical input” from multidisciplinary artist Freeka Tet.

Is it really a sale of a rent? Does the buyer get something special or just random? Are NFTs here to save the music industry or are they this year's credit default swaps? Who's selling, who's buying and what the hell are they? - MusicREDEF tries to explain Non-Fungible tokens in its latest thread.

Kings of Leon will release their new album 'When You See Yourself' on Friday, in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) - becoming the first band to ever do so, Variety reports. Their NFT will be released through YellowHeart, a streaming platform based on blockchain. Along with the album, Kings of Leon are auctioning off six “golden tickets” that will include perks like four front row tickets to any Kings of Leon show for life, and another package includes six individual art pieces celebrating the album’s release and Kings of Leon’s legacy. Recently, artists like Grimes and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda sold their digital art as NFTs, to the tune of $5.8 million and $30,000, respectively. Music producer 3LAU has sold a collection of 33 different non-fungible tokens for a total of $11.7m.

Crypto-craze has started
March 02, 2021

Producer 3LAU sells first-ever crypto-albums for $11.7m

Music producer 3LAU has sold a collection of 33 different non-fungible tokens for a total of $11.7m, Business Insider reports. The collection includes special edition physical vinyl, unreleased music and unique experiences such as a custom song with the winner’s creative direction, which was won by the top bidder for $3,666,666. NFTs are digital representations of art (visual, audio, etc.) where ownership is tracked and verified on the blockchain. Sales in music-related NFTs this weekend alone – which included Grimes selling her WarNymph digital art collection for $5.8m – amounted to $18.6m, which is 80% of all music NFT sales combined over the nine months.

Last week, Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda became the first major-label artist to launch a single via NFT auction. A 75-second clip of 'Happy Endings' was sold in an edition of 10 on the online marketplace Zora (number 10 went for 4 WETH, around $6,600). Shinoda explains to Input: "If you buy an MP3 of a song as an NFT, you don’t own the song. It’s the equivalent of buying a print of a piece of artwork or buying an original piece of artwork... It’s not about the physical item. It’s about the concept of ownership. It’s the concept of what is valuable to a collector". Matty Karas of MusicREDEF has put it quite simply - “You’re basically getting a digitally autographed MP3”.

Rap from the crypto
February 23, 2021

NFT's potential in hip-hop - ahead of most genres

Trapital believes there is great potential for Non-fungible tokens in hip-hop: "The late MF DOOM had just held an auction for augmented reality NFTs for his signature masks. Soulja Boy recently minted his own NFT. Hip-Hop Legends NFT is also selling several collectibles on its marketplace". An NFT is a unique and not interchangeable digital asset that relies on blockchain technology, which makes it easier to verify authenticity. Cherie Hu said in Water & Music on NFTs that hip-hop is ahead of most genres.

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda becomes the first major label artist to launch a single via NFT - non-fungible token auction, according to Loudwire. 'Happy Endings' is a collaboration featuring rising vocalist Upsahl and alt-pop star Iann Dior, and he is using the cryptocurrency as a new avenue to promote his music. Shinoda gave his fans the opportunity to bid for a chance to win an original print of the single artwork signed by him and contemporary artist Cain Caser at a cryptocurrency auction.