The music industry in the last couple of decades has undergone serious change. Some might say for the better, and others might say for the worse. The music industry is not the illustrious money printing machine it was in the 90’s, thanks in part to the internet.
The truth is, labels and bands were slow to adapt to the change the Internet brought. Metallica famously sued Napster in the early 2000s. While they won their case, ultimately, they changed nothing.
Adapting to change, bands started to sell “swag”, t-shirts, tour-only items and other things that were not piratable. Labels, in turn, introduced 360 contracts allowing them to take a cut of an artists revenue from all revenue streams (not just sales) as traditional revenue streams dried up.
Continuing along with the theme of exclusivity, there was a vinyl renaissance. Bands selling their albums on vinyl, including limited edition vinyl releases (sometimes numbered) which fans are willing to pay a lot of money for.
You’ve probably heard about NFT’s before, or their longer non-abbreviated name non-fungible tokens. An NFT is a digital representation of metadata that lives on a blockchain.
When many people think of blockchain, they think of cryptocurrency. While NFT’s are technically a form of cryptocurrency (a custom token living on a blockchain) their purpose is not to be transactable, an NFT is a receipt of sorts, a series of random numbers/characters representing space on a blockchain like Ethereum.
Perhaps, one of the most famous examples of an NFT release is when 3LAU ran an auction for an NFT which gave you certain perks.
Please don’t believe that Kings of Leon’s hype were the first band to release an NFT album (they weren’t). Kings of Leon might be one of the first rock bands to release an NFT album, but they’re not the first band or music artists to do so.
I believe NFT’s are the second coming of the music industry, a way for artists (and in turn, labels) to find a revenue stream that cannot be imitated. An NFT takes the exclusivity aspect that bands once had with vinyl and collectables to a whole new level.