In 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic will effectively eliminate all musicians' principal sources of revenue. Live performances ceased, item sales came to a crawl, and income ceased. The months dragged on, and the situation did not improve. But then a new type of music art emerged, and in 2021 the inevitable happened: the music business adopted non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
We assert that this action was inevitable for good cause. Artists, particularly indie bands, were keen to discover other cash streams. Moreover, the music industry has always been inextricably linked to technology. Consequently, persons working in the field have always been early adopters. They typically acquire new items and technology before artists in related sectors are even aware of their existence.
Thus, in 2021, both established and emerging musicians embraced a new musical art form called NFTs.
NFTs, for the uninitiated, is a new type of digital asset. They offer a new means for producers to promote and sell their material, broadening the possibilities for the dissemination and consumption of art, music, literature, and other forms of media. Music NFT is precisely as it sounds. It is an NFT that includes a musical component. It may be a single song, album, or music video. The musicians understood that, with this technology, they could go directly to their followers and offer tokenized, one-of-a-kind versions of their art, resulting in a significant increase in income.
Several unique NFT music collaborations already exist. And at this point, one thing is certain: music NFTs will continue to transform how musicians and fans collaborate to build community (and creativity). Now that the idea of wealth sharing within an autonomous, digital ecosystem of fans and creators has become a reality, the future of the music business appears even less predictable than during the worldwide COVID epidemic.
As such, we've worked with Coinbase and UnitedMasters (who just teamed up to pay musicians in cryptocurrency) to commemorate the music NFT moments that generate the most buzz - actions that represent a paradigm change in the way the music business runs. To facilitate comprehension, the events are given primarily in chronological sequence.
In February of 2021, the U.K.-based record label LuckyMe made a momentous statement that significantly advanced the music art space (and NFTs). They stated that one of their signature artists, electronic music pioneer Jacques Greene, will auction the publication rights to his brand new tune "in eternity." The track was appropriately titled "Promise."
Before the sale, fans were given a six-second preview of the song via the digital art marketplace Foundation. The song was auctioned for 13 ETH (about $23,000 at the time).
In a statement on the Foundation's website, Greene detailed the inspiration for the piece and its relevance. "This NFT signifies not just a 1of1 AV, but also the perpetual publication rights to the music upon its release. As we investigate the potential of art on the blockchain and the promise of web3, we may begin to abandon antiquated methods. This platform makes a guarantee. Here you may purchase the copyright. You will acquire the song's publishing upon purchase," he explained.
"I am enthusiastic (and apprehensive) about the potential and prospects this field and arts and culture in the general hold. I have many hopes and worries associated with it. Much better to contemplate and discuss potential outcomes than sit in despair. This platform is a guarantee," he explained on Twitter.
Perhaps one of the early adopters of music NFTs is Justin Blau, best known by his artist name 3LAU. In the fall of 2020, he sold his first non-traditional securities. However, this was only the beginning. The electronic dance music superstar's Ultraviolet collection of 33 distinct NFTs reportedly earned him $11.7 million in late February of 2021.
In addition, he earned all of that money in just three days through an auction.
According to Blau, he was surprised by the sale's success. "We were all applauding, and then everyone ceased speaking. "I had no idea it would reach this level," Blau remarked in an interview with Forbes. It only demonstrates how difficult it is to anticipate what will occur when new music art is introduced.
After the sale, Blau solidified his position as one of the most prominent proponents of NFT technology by announcing in August that he was creating an NFT music platform called Royal that will allow token owners to collect royalties from musicians' works.
Launch of Catalog, the first audio platform NFTs Catalog entered the NFT discourse at the beginning of March 2021. Their intent? To transform the music business via the empowerment of independent musicians. How? By allowing them access to their fans directly. It was purposeful innovation in music art, and the first marketplace established particularly for audio NFTs.
On the site, artists get 100 percent of sales plus a portion of each resale at a rate that they determine. Moreover, the artists receive all of this without giving up any of their copyrights. And because the site verifies every artist, consumers can be confident that they are purchasing merchandise from the artists themselves, as opposed to those who have stolen the music.
Consequently, Catalog collaborated with Bajan musician Haleek Maul to offer his asset-backed Inner EP's four tracks. In late October, the 13-minute sale produced 56 ETH (about $235,000) over the course of one week. One song, "Touch," sold for 17,1039 ETH ($68,491) on its own.
In March, Gemini's NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway made Grimes about $6 million wealthier in less than twenty minutes. The Canadian singer earned $5.8 million through the sale of ten exclusive digital artworks, some of which included original compositions. Volume 1 of the WarNymph Collection was the title.
The next week, utilizing the same site, DJ/producer Steve Aoki released his debut NFT compilation, Dream Catcher. It sold for $4,250,000. The eleven individual pieces in Dream Catcher were developed in conjunction with renowned visual artist Antoni Tudisco. In addition, they had unique noises and excellent animation.
These purchases paved the path for future seven-figure sales on the platform by major artists such as The Weeknd (whose NFT collection sold for $2 million) and Eminem (whose first collection of NFTs earned him $1.78 million).
In March of 2021, the famed Nashville garage rock band Kings of Leon released their newest studio album. The title was When You See Yourself. It was the first new compilation of songs issued by RCA Records in three years. The band of brothers simultaneously became the first musical group to release their album on the same day as an NFT. And it certainly paid off.
Using the Yellow Heart platform, 820 ETH ($1.45 million at the time) were generated. Included in the deal were exclusive editions of the CD, exclusive digital artwork, and lifelong concert passes. Subsequently, the "On-Call" and "Sex on Fire" groups gave more than $500,000 to Live Nation's Crew Nation Fund, which was established to assist road workers impacted by the epidemic.
"It seems absurd that the NFT exploded in the manner that it did. In an interview with CleveRock, Kings of Leon's Caleb Followill stated, "We're all fairly knowledgeable about it, but I'm still scratching my brain and trying to figure it all out."
Prior to launching his SixNFT Agency in March 2021, the Portland-based musician and producer RAC (born André Allen Anjos) was familiar with music-based NFTs. 2017 marked the debut of the Grammy-winning artist's album EGO on the blockchain-powered beta music streaming and download platform Ujo Music.
Six was formed with the concept that creators and communities should have the ability to construct their own sustainable economies, as stated on its website. Already, Six has assisted IDM guru Tycho, Swedish dance combo Galantis, and internationally renowned musician BT with tremendously successful releases.
What occurred when the English electronic music duo Disclosure sold the picture from their 2012 EP The Face? A group of their admirers, who were already NFT investors, decided to go all-in and purchase it for $140,000. The Zora purchase also includes Disclosure concert tickets for the lifetime of the NFT's owners.
Over the subsequent months, the fans have become friends with the band. Disclosure has really performed sets at Delphi Digital events.
In 2021, Dutch DJ Don Diablo created NFT history by providing the first full-concert DVD as a cryptocurrency asset via SuperRare. This one-hour DJ set from the creator of "Cutting Shapes" and "Cheque" was titled Destination Hexagonia and included 3D-produced visuals in a sci-fi aesthetic.
The winning bidder, who spent around 600 ETH ($1.26 million at the time), also received a USB drive holding the material. According to Diablo, it took one year to arrange the show. In an interview, he elaborated on the importance, stating, "The intention was to produce a groundbreaking sci-fi-inspired live show with a cinematic approach as a singular piece of futuristic art."
The Brooklyn-based songwriter VÉRITÉ released her dreamy new tune "By Now" in April. The singer, who has never signed with a record label and whose songs have collected more than 350 million streams, sold 2,3 percent of the master recording as an audiovisual NFT on Zora for 11 ETH in perpetuity.
The sale garnered VÉRITÉ acclaim from the NFT community and continues to be a landmark achievement for independent artists.
In the spring of 2021, musicians and visual artists from all around the world collaborated on the creation of three new songs. The artists, divided into three groups with band-like identities, collaborated for five weeks to develop the multimedia songs, which were subsequently marketed as music NFTs.
13 strangers won a total of 10,05 ETH (about $34,000) via the sale of the songs "Static Twist" by The Lunar Veil, "Hold on Hope" by Driftwood TX, and "Antid0t3" by Rainbow Punch.
A Texas choral ensemble auctioned an NFT of a unique digital recording in early May 2021, making it the first piece of classical music to be sold on the blockchain. In January, the Dallas-based Verdigris Ensemble released "Betty's Notebook."
The 21-minute composition by Nicholas Reeves was featured on the blockchain-based digital art auction site Async Art. The winning offer was 56.46 ETH at the time ($375,000). The revenues were divided among all those who participated in the historic recording.
If you ever picked up a copy of The Source in the 1990s, you have already seen Chi Modu's extraordinarily honest hip-hop photography. Some of the most memorable photographs of Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Mobb Deep, Nas, and the Wu-Tang Clan were taken by the Nigerian-born, New Jersey-raised genius.
On May 19, Modu passed away at the age of 54. But shortly previous to his death, Modu minted 19 NFTs of his photographs and made them accessible via his website, which is accessible here.
BT spent eleven months working on the Genesis.json file. It is a unique "software component" that was offered as an NFT on SuperRare. Genesis.json, described as one of the most technologically advanced NFTs to date, features approximately 15,000 hand-sequenced audio and visual events that will play out over a 24-hour period.
A press statement states that the artwork's cycle will continue every day for as long as the internet exists. The music was sold for 88.8 Ethereum, or $212,000 USD. BT stated at the time of the sale, "I believe blockchain and decentralized technologies represent a paradigm-shifting system that honors artists and their labor."
In the summer of 2021, when he released the NFT album When It's Dark, the Canadian rapper Tory Lanez sparked some controversy. It was issued as seven distinct NFTs. However, Lanez partnered with E-NFT, which ran the auction.
Following the auction of Tory Lanez's NFT album, fans complained about the E-NFT platform on Reddit. Users reported inconsistencies and bugs that prevented them from purchasing the NFTs. Fans have reported having problems with the E-NFT platform when attempting to sell NFTs for a profit. Many others expressed their disgust on Twitter, with some claiming they felt deceived by the musician. Lanez has not commented on the subject.
Audius is distinctive among Web3 music streaming providers. Audius, which was introduced in 2019, is operated by artists and owned by a community of token holders, as opposed to a single centralized corporation. The infrastructure of the site consists of a completely decentralized music streaming protocol developed using public blockchain technology. This is meant to provide artists with greater visibility into who is streaming their music and more control over the distribution of their recordings.
Audius stated in mid-August that it was collaborating with TikTok to make the music of its more than one hundred thousand artists available for inclusion in TikTok videos.
The platform's incentives system compensates artists $AUDIO for chart placement on Audius. Currently, the platform has Diplo, Weezer, and Odesza as clients. Additionally, they have millions of monthly active users. Later, in September, TikTok would join the NFT arena with its "Moments" initiative, which included Curtis Roach.
Mig Mora, a rapper from Illinois, struggled for years to build a reputation for himself in the cutthroat music industry. In 2012, Mora realized that his music career was likely gone and it was time to acquire a job. In February of 2021, Mora was given a second opportunity at a career in music. All of this was made possible by the CryptoPunks' NFTs.
In particular, the alteration occurred when Mora acquired CryptoPunk #5528.
Adopting the alias Spottie WiFi, Mora became the sole CryptoPunk rapper in the world after gaining renewed motivation. Then, in August of 2021, Mora issued a seven-track EP limited to 2,000 copies. Each edition included a surprising mint NFT that granted the owner immediate sync rights to the master recording of the NFT. In the end, he quickly sold $192,000 in music NFTs.
The Wu-Tang Clan worked on Once Upon a Time in Shaolin for six years before releasing a single copy in 2015. Three years later, the government confiscated the record from "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli, its original owner. It is one of the rarest albums ever recorded, as few people have heard of it. Now, it is held by PleasrDAO, a pioneering DeFi collective. SixNFT facilitated the latest transaction, which cost the organization $4 million.
In a blog post, PleasrDAO explained why they made the deal. "We are confident that this musical gem can be shared with the globe. Numerous aspects of life are transient, transitory, and ephemeral. However, keep in mind that, much like our blockchain, Wu-Tang is eternal," they stated.
The debut of the Bored Ape Yacht Club in late April 2021 added a little intrigue to the realm of non-financial instruments (NFTs) (BAYC). It is a collection of NFTs developed by four aliases: Gargamel, Gordon Goner, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, and No Sass. All 10,000 distinct variations of the cartoon primates were purchased for around $190 ETH apiece. Since then, Bored Ape Yacht Club has become one of the most popular NFT ventures, with a total sales volume of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Undoubtedly, BAYC's Apefest was one of the most impactful events that occurred at the NFT.NYC conference in October 2021. The four-day BAYC event featured merchandise pop-ups, meet-ups, and other activities.
It culminated in a gigantic party as the Bored Ape team took over the Brooklyn Steel warehouse for a crazy night of live music that was exclusive to BAYC or Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFT owners. The festival-like event, which featured performances by The Strokes, Lil Baby, Beck, and Questlove with Chris Rock and Aziz Ansari as MCs, delivered a clear message that the Guy Oseary-represented initiative was not playing around.
Universal Music announced the establishment of Kingship, a virtual Bored Apes band, in November. In the same month, Timbaland started Ape-In Productions, a company that creates music and animation based on Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT avatars. A single from the virtual hip-hop group TheZoo has already been published.
"Creating Kingship has been really enjoyable and inventive. Kingship Founder Celine Joshua stated in a news release, "I founded 10:22 PM to push the frontiers of innovation in the music business, and with Kingship, we're practically creating what's possible in real-time."
On Black Friday, November 25, 2021, a plethora of NFTs entered the market. However, Rare Scrilla and Wu-Tang Clan founding member Ghostface Killah's NFT drop garnered the most attention. The bidding on the hip-hop crypto artwork began on November 26 at midnight.
Featuring images by Scrilla and music and lyrics by Ghostface, the asset sold for $281,136, according to internet records. Starry Night Capital, the owner, now also possesses the master recording of Ghostface's song.
OneOf, a marketplace for 2021 music NFTs, began an auction for a Whitney Houston NFT on December 13, 2021. It includes a demo recording of Houston at age 17 that had never been heard before. The one-of-a-kind NFT was sold for $999,999 with a digital film made by highly recognized artist Diana Sinclair, then 17 years old.
Pat Houston, Executor, Estate of Whitney E. Houston, said in a statement at the time, "I'm pleased to see Whitney's legacy and her amazing music transcend into innovative new technologies of our period." "It was a pleasure to collaborate with 17-year-old Diana Sinclair and witness the effect of Whitney's music on a new generation."
The proceeds from the collection's sales were donated to the Whitney E. Houston Foundation, which aims to inspire, provide opportunities for, and empower youngsters. The winner of the auction for the "OneOf One" NFT earned complete personal use rights to the demo track. This implies that any form of public dissemination of the song is absolutely restricted, and the owner alone has complete private access. Similar to the involvement of legacy auction houses in the NFT ecosystem, this landmark sale demonstrated the potential of NFTs to usher in a new era for legendary music artists.
In January of 2022, the hip-hop icon Nas was immortalized on the blockchain. Nas collaborated with ace DJ 3LAU to release his first-ever NFT collection on the aforementioned platform, Royal. The collection, which was the first live sale of NFTs on Royal.io, comprised 1,870 NFTs that were released in two distinct drops and sold out in record time. In addition, it generated more than $560,000 in total income.
In an effort to embrace NFTs, Coachella, one of the largest and most popular events in the world, launched a variety of digital collectibles. Their NFT offering in February of 2022 caused a major commotion. Why? This month Coachella announced plans for a multi-part NFT drop in collaboration with crypto-exchange giant FTX, with lifelong festival passes included.
Coachella Collectibles has a total of 11,010 NFTs across three collections, allowing fans to purchase lifetime festival passes, access exclusive on-site experiences, real things, and more.
Dillon Francis is an electronic artist who has received several honors. In 2018, the platinum-selling DJ and producer "Sexo" was nominated for the Latin American Music Award and the Latin Grammy. In March of 2022, he added a deal of historic significance to his list of achievements. In exchange for an NFT from the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, Francis committed to an exclusive residence with Big Night.
Francis specifically obtained BAYC #378. Notably, the agreement also includes a record collaboration with the Web3 electronic duo ESCAPPLAN, comprised of two Bored Apes from the BAYC collection, ETHan (#4321) and zeETH (#309).
NFTs have made a tremendous impact, reverberating throughout the IT, financial, and creative industries. Nevertheless, the music business appears to provide the most instructive litmus test for how blockchain technology may promote co-creation and co-ownership of intellectual property.
NFTs have given independent musicians the ability to sustain themselves based on the concept of digital ownership, as evidenced by 3LAU breaking industry records with his $11.7 million Ultraviolet NFT drops and CryptoPunk Rapper Spottie WIFI bootstrapping a community that helped him earn $192,000 in seconds. With the impending widespread acceptance of NFTs and the involvement of some of the most popular brands in existence in the non-fungible sector, a paradigm change in the music business is becoming less implausible with each passing month.