As the non-fungible arts gold rush continues, blockchain-focussed music research specialist Viberate has minted NFTs holding booking rights to one of the biggest names in techno. Partnering with known futurist and early crypto adopter, UMEK’s NFT sale is thought to be a world first.
Dropped via Blockparty on Thursday, 29th April, UMEK’s NFT sale contains rights to recorded work and future gigs. Respectively, three tokens link to three exclusive remixes of the 1999 track ‘Lanicor’. The remaining two allow owners to book him for an online event and ‘in-person’ performance. Experts say this takes music-related NFTs beyond the “collectible item” status.
Is UMEK’s NFT sale really a global first?
Selling direct musical experiences with heroes is a tangible example of the blockchain establishing closer bonds between fans and artists. The approach would have been difficult, if not impossible, to realise without this technology.
Access and rights to tracks by prominent artists carry significant weight with investors and enthusiasts, but this form of NFT is nothing new. Kings of Leon made headlines as the first band to mint an entire album in March 2021. And Music Business Worldwide reported NFT drops made $25million for artists during the preceding month, when names including Steve Aoki, Post Malone and Deadmau5 were running high profile auctions.
By comparison, UMEK’s NFT sale opens the proverbial back door on the world of A-list artist booking, so someone can host an intimate show with one of the world’s biggest electronic music names, is unique. As such the drop understandably draw scrutiny from commentators, with potentially far-reaching consequences.
NFT events and the recovery of live events
The music industry, and specifically the live music sector, remains devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Uncertainty as to how stakeholders will move towards a full recovery is well-founded. As are questions as to how long that could take, with serious disruption to touring schedules expected well into 2022.
NFTs can give artists a direct line into ‘fan economies’ without relying on an ecosystem crippled by this ongoing crisis. There is potential for this approach to offer ongoing future revenue streams for musicians now acutely aware that reliance on ticket sales creates vulnerability to sudden market changes.
UMEK’s NFT sale covers not just music rights but performances directly to fans, emphasising a wider belief NFTs could put an end to middle-men economies. In this case that means cutting out ticketing platforms, booking agents and promoters. That’s because once minted, tokens contain secure contractual agreements, giving all parties involved peace of mind.
But, amid ongoing multi-million dollar NFT music sales largely driven by hype, it remains to be seen if this idea can really bolster connections between ‘everyday fans’ and artists. The fear is it could simply offer once-in-a-lifetime moments to a privileged few. Token drops from smaller acts are likely to be more affordable and therefore democratic, which could overcome the issue. However, mass NFT uptake across the music industry continues to raise legitimate environmental concerns. Many marketplaces, and their blockchains, have a significant carbon footprint, although the contributions of NFTs remain up for debate.