Wait, aren’t NFTs dead?
The digital assets most widely renowned as ‘screen-shottable JPEGs’ are back on the map for creatives after recent news that NFTs of Rihanna’s “B*tch Better Have My Money” now enables holders to earn revenue whenever the song is streamed.
The song’s producer, Jamil “Deputy” Pierre, helped Rihanna produce the track back in 2015 and this week, Deputy announced he is offering the Web3 community access to royalties through a partnership with Web3 music platform, anotherblock.
The NFTs were sold at US$210, giving each holder access to ownership of 0.0033% of streaming royalties whenever the song is played on Spotify. Since its release, the track has been played more than 673 million times on Spotify, and more than one billion streams across various music platforms, according to a press release.
According to anotherblock, the community-sharing song is a part of an upcoming pipeline of future music announcements, and all NFT holders will access unique artwork and a legal contract that confirms streaming royalties and ownership of the song.
How do the music NFTs work?
When songs are streamed on Spotify, the owners of the music NFTs are eligible for receiving money (royalties). anotherblock allows music lovers to purchase the rights and allow holders to track the song’s performance, before receiving royalty payouts.
It’s worth noting that at anotherblock’s estimated rate of returns could be as low as US$13 per year, so the drop is yet to provide any substantial income-earning opportunities for the holders, but the news has become another opportunity to break the traditional music earning model that benefits only a select few.
anotherblock works with a range of artists, producers, songwriters, labels and catalogue holders to decide what share of royalties they want to divest from a song, and put in the hand of their community NFT holders.
The platform enables what’s known as “fractionalised assets” on the blockchain (where the digital asset is broken down into ownable portions from the public). Rights holders sell parts of their streaming royalties from platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, and holders will earn royalties in perpetuity for life.
Last year, R3HAB and Laidback Luke dropped a release that allowed holders to access 0.02% share in streaming revenues.
“Music NFTs should combine … the colour, feeling, emotional connection, with a whole new approach to music purchases, royalties, and fan experiences. NFTs with a clear easy-to-grasp, real-world value promise to transform the music business from its current, sometimes-frustrating state into a more artist-friendly, fan-engaging community,” shared Michel D. Traore, anotherblock’s CEO, at the time of Laidback Luke’s drop.
Could music be a new hedge against inflation?
In 2021, music revenue accounted for US$25B, an increase from 2020 by nearly 20%, while streaming revenue increased by 24% from the year before during 2022.
Major investing institutions have their eyes on the music industry, arguing that music investing could act as a hedge with more stable returns — Goldman Sachs shared that they expect global music revenue to double by 2030 from this.
According to Sean Gardner, co-founder of Emanate and MODA DAO, music investing is a new concept but we’re already seeing funds like Hipgnosis buying up “some of the biggest catalogues in the world, banking on the fact that streaming revenue is set to grow 10x in the next decade, and because other yield-bearing assets like bonds are returning far less than in the past,” he shared with The Chainsaw.
“It seems to me that in a time of uncertainty, music is something less affected by the recession than retail spending and property. [Hipgnosis] raised and invested around $2 billion, but whether the bet pays off is yet to be seen and whether the same bets can be made on a micro level with retail investors is another question.”
Gardner argues investors probably shouldn’t look to put their superannuation into music micro-investing just yet, but it’s worth paying attention to the emerging industry.
Before the introduction of Web3, investing in music rights hasn’t been accessible by the public, but by minting music on the blockchain, fractionalising the asset and having legal contracts built into the code, we’re seeing a rise in investment opportunities in the music industry.
According to local musician and Web3 aficionado Sally Coleman, it’s becoming increasingly hard to know if a new artist will ever be financially successful, making new music a risky financial investment.
“There’s a real tension between capitalism and community in the modern music industry — I hope there is a growing trend of people investing in artists because they want to hear their music and be a part of their journey, instead of just wanting to see capital returns,” she shared.
“What if your “investment return” was in other kinds of value? Like the vicarious joy of being part of someone’s success, or playing a part in the cultural impact of their music. One of the most rewarding parts of community-building is feeling like you’ve contributed, and recognising them for their contribution is a win-win for artists and fans. The frenzy of NFTs has cooled off [but] there’s more genuine wholesome and creative conversations happening about the artistic possibilities of this tech.”Sally Coleman
Is Web3 music the next big thing?
As onlookers of the Web3 space have their ears to the ground on what might be the next innovation in the world of crypto, some industry experts are hedging their bets on crypto’s intersection with the future of the music industry.
In September last year, crypto influencer Cooper Turley announced the launch of a US$10 million fund to bring musicians and Web3 startup founders together in what he called a “hybrid between a venture fund, record label and incubator”.
Turley argues it’s been notoriously difficult to invest in the industry in the past, with artists having to rely on streaming services or live gigs. Streaming services have long offered abysmal returns for anyone who isn’t Lady Gaga, Drake or an artist in the top 0.0001% on Spotify. Touring musicians are also bearing the brunt of live gigs becoming financially unviable with a rise in flight costs and international artists flooding the circuit.
Gardner shares that the intersection of Web3 and music will rise when the average music lover can wrap their head around the concept of digital music.
“It’s just like a digital download except the money goes straight to the artist. You can buy, collect and trade digital music now, or might even make some money if you’re great at spotting up-and-coming talent or hot songs before they blow up,” he shares.
“We’ve [been] stuck using platforms that thrive on having you spend as long as possible in the app and never leave it. That kind of thinking limits how much artists can link their community to other forms of engagement. A lot of artists want a two-way communication with fans,” he said.