By now, you’re familiar with NFTs of cartoon apes, pixelated avatars and everything in between. NFTs are truly in the mainstream – Collins Dictionary even had “NFT” as their word of the year for 2021.
But could musical NFTs be primed to follow art as the next big craze?
UK based NFT platform Deliciae is marketing an NFT of the Michael Jackson song “Whatever Happens”. The deal has been brokered with songwriter Gil Cang, who co-wrote the song. It will offer a stake of Cang’s 37.5% publishing copyright in the song.
The NFT grants a purchaser 10% of net publishing income from the song (this translates to 27% of Cang’s piece of the pie). It’s a pretty sweet arrangement and it could be a sign of things to come in the space. Sure, the King of Pop may not be for everyone, but it’s easy to see the appeal of owning an income stream from your favourite artist’s album, or a song you love.
What about buying your significant other an NFT of your wedding song – how is that for an anniversary gift? Or maybe buying a piece of the number 1 song in the charts for your newborn baby on the day they are born? For me, I’d love to generate some passive income via some Bruce Springsteen or Fleetwood Mac.
There are many other applications for NFTs in music. For this MJ NFT, the purchaser will also receive signed lyrics from Gil Cang and a framed platinum disc, while VIP access to gigs, special concert tickets, hangouts with musicians are all further applications that NFTs can offer – the list goes on. But there is something about ownership of royalties that is a lot more enticing.
The benefits are easy to imagine too, both for artist and fan. The fans can forge a closer bond with the artist, generating income via royalties and really feeling “involved”. The artist, on the other hand, can take a cut off sales or generate extra income via various methods depending on the structure of the NFTs. Of course, the artist also benefits from the strengthened bond with fan, too.
Deliciae aren’t the first to wander into this royalty-NFT niche. Royal works with artists to launch similar tokens, although none yet with name-value of Michael Jackson. They actually refer to the NFTs as Limited Digital Assets (LDAs) and have been minting them since Q4 of last year. Opulous are another platform working in a similar fashion, and even have a DeFi element to help artists raise funding on the blockchain.
It’s a tease of what’s to come for NFTs. Why shouldn’t the public be able to reap their favourite artists’ success, when they are the ones supporting them? Furthermore, tokenising illiquid, expensive items is an area that is ripe for movement. It could be possible to split, say, an artist’s new album into 10 NFTs all offering a portion of royalties. You could go further and split it into 10,000, if you want to make it more accessible.
In essence, it’s another way NFTs can provide access to the masses, wrestling some control away from corporations – especially in the world of music where artists are often exploited. A fairer, more accessible and transparent way to distribute income – isn’t that what crypto is meant to achieve?
For the time being, the sector is still in its nascent phase, but this is a cool step. As I sit here writing this article with some relaxing Angus & Julia Stone in my headphones, it’s exciting to think I could one day be “paying” myself by listening to the song. Of course, I’m fantasising a bit here and putting the horse before the cart, but what’s the harm in that?