It has been dizzying to watch the music industry react to NFTs. While Saturday Night Live poked fun at Eminem’s “Without Me,” one minute, Eminem was selling his own NFTs and adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to his digital wallet.
A set of NFTs, representing audiovisuals of spear-wielding space babies, went for about $6 million at an auction by Grimes in late February, and others followed.
According to Pitchfork, NFT drops may soon surpass new albums, with both mainstream (Weezer, the Weeknd, Snoop Dogg) and indie artists finding ways to get involved in the controversial trend.
Entertainment lawyer Jordan Bromley describes the non-fee to perform (NFT) as almost like a gift from God.
“Artists haven’t had revenue from touring for the last 12-plus months, so having that boost has been great.”
There is no limit to what NFTs can represent. These items can be anything from digital art sold to high-end auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s to audio recordings of farts. They use cryptocurrencies like Ether and Bitcoin to complete the transaction.While it’s fairly common to hear people refer to selling something “as an NFT”, that’s sort of a misnomer, since the NFT is just a computer program in a blockchain.The NFT can represent anything that exists and then be put up for sale or auction. Bonuses that can be earned include vinyl albums, concert tickets, and exclusive MP3s.
In recent months, NFT prices have risen and fallen, making the breathless hype around them sometimes appear unwarranted. As a direct result of environmental impact, NFTs have been assessed to have a carbon footprint the size of Lithuania. (According to one estimate, the Ethereum blockchain platform has a carbon footprint the size of New York state’s.)
Moreover, consumer protection agencies are nowhere to be seen, so the risk of fraud is evident. But some artists and collectors opt for carbon offsets, and Ethereum, at least, is adapting to a more eco-friendly process of transaction verification.
One unique benefit of NFT releases is that they allow artists of all stripes to create “smart contracts” that can help distribute royalties more fairly and allow automatic revenue sharing. These days, artists can also raise money through NFTs by supporting a cause through their releases, especially as many people are willing to spend big money. (A joint NFT between Mick Jagger and Dave Grohl recently raised $50,000 for independent music venues.) In that case, digital collectibles will become an increasingly important part of music, and the music industry has no reason to be left out.
Despite many prominent musicians with recently-minted NFTs taking up the subject on their own, when asked for an in-depth discussion, not many seem accessible. (“We love experimenting with new technology in a way to connect with our fans,” begins one popular act’s statement.) A variety of musicians whose music and perspectives appealed to us were reached out to in order to gain insight into how this phenomenon can benefit musicians. NFTs were seen as a saving grace for the industry to NFTs as morally and aesthetically void, with NFTs as an activist’s tool and as rare art merch in between.