The acronym NFT stands for non-fungible tokens: unique digital items or assets that can be bought and sold. Many people in the music industry first heard about them when blockchain cat-collecting game CryptoKitties attracted mainstream media attention in late 2017.
Since then, WMG has invested in the company behind it, Dapper Labs, and British band Muse worked with the startup on some crypto-collectible merchandise. Meanwhile, startups like Fanaply have begun exploring how NFTs and ‘digital collectibles’ could work in other ways for artists and their fandoms.
Shara Senderoff, president of music/tech investment firm Raised In Space, thinks we’re going to be hearing a lot more about NFTs in the coming months, sparked by an even bigger trend. “We have a global mistrust in financial systems, and people are questioning motives, questioning agendas, questioning technology as it relates to the finances of individuals and the global economy,” she said.
“What you can see as a trend to come is the rise and the birth of new forms of transaction, and new forms of being able to put your money in places that maybe you can trust more. You’re simply willing to experiment because you have such distrust.” And Senderoff went on to add that this is why she thinks a trend “that is going to blow up” is NFTs and digital collectibles, including for music.
“It’s the ability for a fan to purchase an asset that is scarce, that is limited, that is exclusive, and has potential offerings tied to that that make them as a loyal fan feel unique, feel rewarded,” she said. “I am focused heavily on where we’re headed with digital collectibles.”
Senderoff was talking on a panel session about investment and innovation around music/tech. Fellow panelist Suzy Ryoo, president of Q&A, talked about the opportunities for startups who are “replacing the pipes: replacing bad pipes with gold pipes and building new infrastructure for the creator economy”.
“If there are 50,000 songs being uploaded every single day [to streaming services] but there are 100 spots on playlists, what happens to the middle class of artists who are not represented on the master or publishing side by Universal, Warner or Sony?” said Ryoo.
“There is absolutely a huge opportunity to create real case studies around artists and labels and entrepreneurs having an independent mindset that is complementary to the major system, that is not in competition with it… that allows them to preserve their equity in copyright, as opposed to becoming part of a system that does not prioritise them.”
There was plenty more from this session, and we’ll have a full writeup for you in our NY:LON Connect recap report next week – as well as our notes from the conference’s startup pitching session, which was won by Anything World.