Greg Oakford, co-founder of NFT Fest Australia, is your guide to the world of NFTs from a collector’s and fan’s perspective.
With Sound’s recent $20 million raise, music collectibles have reignited a spark in my mind. While music really hasn’t had its moment in the sun, as has the art market and the PFP mania of 2021–2022, collectible on-chain music feels inevitable.
Collecting music is not new. It’s had many iterations, from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to mp3s (remember that thing called Napster?) to $0.99 tracks on iTunes.
My dad collects blues vinyl yet doesn’t have a record player anymore. He streams music on Spotify, so why buy the vinyl? Why did so many opt to pay $0.99 for songs or $10 to $15 for albums on a centralized digital music marketplace like iTunes when, in reality, getting music for free was pretty accessible?
People collect music for a variety of reasons, including nostalgia, supporting artists financially, social signaling to their friends and followers, and showcasing their personality through their taste in music.
Enter on-chain music: the next major platform in a rich history of formats through which we’ve collected and consumed music.
Does this mean your favorite streaming service is going away? Most likely not — certainly not anytime soon — but putting music on-chain can open up a whole range of new opportunities for musicians and collectors alike.
In a recent Twitter thread, the online music market Sound stated that its hypothesis is that “the true value of music can be unlocked if we give fans the power to support artists directly.” Since its launch in 2022, it claims to have made over $5 million for artists.
The streaming era has been convenient for consumers, but not so much for artists, unless you’re in the very top tier of elites. $0.003 per stream is hardly going to put food on the table. Going direct to your fan base with collectible music paves the way for a new era to usher in. Sure, not every fan will collect, but not every fan attends concerts or buys merchandise, either.
Who’s making waves in the music Web3 scene?
While we’ve seen the likes of Snoop Dogg — who was part of the $20 million Sound raise — and 3LAU really lean into what Web3 could mean for music, we’ve seen relatively unknown artists start to make a name for themselves by opting to be a bigger fish in what is a smaller pond (for now).
Daniel Allan and Violetta Zironi are two examples pioneering what a musician’s journey can look like in the new Web3 world.
Allan, an artist and producer based in Los Angeles, has been early with on-chain music, championing the space for other musicians to follow suit.
Italian singer Zironi is arguably one of the best early success stories with music in Web3. Having initially stumbled into early stardom on her home country’s The X Factor, she was on the traditional path but has opted to pave her own way with independence, and her fans love her for it.
Zironi understands how to cultivate her fanbase. Her 2022 project “Moonshot” has generated over 325 ETH in sales on OpenSea alone.
Return of iconic album cover art
“What’s old is new again” rings true in the fashion world. We know crypto markets work in cycles, so will we see the return of iconic art to accompany music and give it a memorable visual aspect, like the days of iconic album covers such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik?
Since streaming became the societal norm, the emphasis is way less on a traditional album and its associated cover art. But with the collaborative nature of NFTs and their composability, we could see a shift in interest move back to valuing the visual aspect to accompany music.
We saw a mash-up from two iconic figures in their respective fields in late 2021 via Snoop Dogg and Coldie’s “Decentral Eyes Dogg.”
What’s hot in NFT art markets?
Big sales are coming from Pak, Fidenzas and Joe Pease.
We also recently saw 10 new Squiggles minted (#9872–#9881) and a successful drop by 99-year-old Vera Molnár, a pioneer of generative art who collaborated with Martin Grasser, a generative artist himself. The 500 NFTs sold out on Sotheby’s Metaverse and have since done over 1,000 ETH in secondary sales on OpenSea.
NFT Creator: Hackatao
Originating in 2018, the OG artist duo Hackatao have a highly distinctive style that is their own — and that’s exactly how they like it. As experimenters in the nascent NFT space early on, having a Hackatao piece in a collector’s vault is highly desirable.
“Our style of art is the Hackatao style. We like to escape categorizations, and perhaps for this reason, we are highly recognizable,” says Hackatao.
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Originally introduced to NFTs by Jason Bailey (aka Artnome), they minted their very first NFT on April 14, 2018 on SuperRare, titled “Girl Next Door.”
Hackatao have had huge sales over the last five years, including “Imago,” which sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $1 million. They’ve also had multiple sales over $500,000.
Staying motivated as long-term artists
With a pedigree in one-of-one art, Hackatao loves innovation, and in 2022, they launched Queens+Kings, which introduced tradable traits to put a different spin on PFP collections.
“We love experimentation and innovation. We approach new projects with the spirit of experimenting with new mechanisms and trying to bring something innovative to the space,” Hackatao says.
“So it was for Queens+Kings and its traits trading system. We are now working on two large generative art projects that present unprecedented dynamics.”
Who are the influences on your art career to date?
“Our inner child, who has always believed in us and who gives us the energy to create every day.”
What’s your favorite NFT in your wallet that’s not your own NFT?
“As collectors, we have several works by OG artists. One of our favorites is from Pak, which we received in recognition for being builders in the crypto art space.”
Is there an up-and-coming artist(s) you think people should be paying attention to?
“They should pay attention to artists who believe in it and are here to stay in crypto art. People should be more interested in the artist, in getting to know his worlds, his inner life, and listen less to influencers.”
Who is a notable collector of yours who makes you smile knowing they own one of your pieces?
“All collectors are of ‘significance.’ Everyone who appreciates our art supports our art-making. It makes us smile, especially by those who acquired our works for a few dollars between 2018 and 2019 and who still keep them close in their collection. True holders!”
What would be your advice to any artists out there who have yet to explore NFTs but would like to start?
“Compared to the beginning, the space has expanded and complicated a lot, but if you approach it with a curious spirit and with the will to experiment in the long term, it certainly gives more satisfaction than a hit and run.”
The Simpsons reveals connection with PFP communities
The Simpsons recently caught the NFT PFP community’s eye when it unveiled a poster featuring NFTs from what appears to be five collections: CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Doodles, MoonCats and a Nyan Cat.
The posters were being distributed at an official Simpsons booth at San Diego Comic-Con. A move like this in 2021 or early 2022 would have sent collection floors in an upward direction rapidly, but right now, in the heart of an NFT bear market, floors didn’t budge. Nonetheless, it’s something to keep an eye out for and a reminder that NFTs have made a dent in the zeitgeist.
Also featured at the world-famous Comic Con in Southern California were Cool Cats and Pudgy Penguins.
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