What on earth are NFT's ?
Ok, let's start at the beginning.
I spent approx 20 years in IT Support, Helpdesk, Desktop & Field Support in Microsoft & Novel environments, with Server Admin thrown into the mix of supporting clients (pc's) on networks. I also studied Information Studies for a year, as well as Music Technology, Management/Marketing (1 year) and before that, Sound & Video Production for another year at college in the early 1990's. I have been a Musician for over 30 years. I'm a Composer, since 2005 (for brands/short films and been a Composer Agent for want of a better word), a self produced Songwriter (previously signed Publishing in the USA) since 1996, a Vocalist, and also a Photographer for 15 years, Video Creator for a few years and I'm a Wix partner and have set up websites for creatives & businesses for 10 years, which also covers aspects of Marketing and creative projects attached to those websites and promoting them.
With all of my experiences combined, this batch of utilities gives me the foresight to see how things are going to pan out, with regards to NFT's, the new kid on the block for music and art creators. And I have to say, I'm very excited.
This explanation, from my perspective, in relation to music creators, artists, writers, photographers and also businesses, comes after researching the new NFT phenomenom, or craze, call it what you will, for over a month. That's how long it's taken me to comprehend it all, where it's going, who they're for etc...and the more I learn, the more excited I become.
NFT's are what they are, Non Fungible Tokens (NFT). Fungible means, that I can exchange a dollar or pound etc for another dollar, or pound. They're exchangeable. "Non" Fungible means, one of a kind, a one off, unique. So when NFT's are being sold on NFT platforms, they're sold as a one off, or a limited run of a digital file (jpeg, gif, photo, mp3 etc). A NFT is more or less a digital certificate of authenticity of your art work, photo, music etc (in digital format - jpeg, gif, photo, mp3 etc). A certificate of uniqueness, if you will, belonging to you.
Now the interesting part. A NFT is just the representation of your art work, or music or whatever, in a digital token, it's authentic and it's yours. If you register your NFT on any NFT platforms (and there will be lots soon), then you will be registered as the owner, the creator, and that registration information is written to a digital ledger, on the technology called Blockchain. Blockchain is the framework which digital currencies and tokens (NFT's) can transact between buyers and sellers of digital assets.
The NFT is the certificate, but Blockchain is the technology and its used over peer to peer networks, which validate and cross reference your NFT data, your digital currency transactions. Once you register your NFT, on any given platform (use caution when choosing one, do research first), your information will be "written" into that ledger, known as the Blockchain. It cannot be tampered with. Every transaction relating to your NFT will be recorded in data blocks, hence the name "Blockchain", and every transfer of ownership, resale etc will be recorded, with each new owner being recorded into the ledger. So it's like a traceable chain of data, back to you, as the creator of said NFT.
Composer, Artist, Songwriter, Photographer, Filmmaker etc ?
Why is this of relevance to you ?
I'll tell you why. Now comes the really, really interesting part and I'll break it down for some of the above creatives
You create a piece if Digital Art. You upload it to one of the new (and soon, many) NFT platforms to sell your art as a NFT. You can sell it at a set price, or you can sell it like an auction, to get the highest bids in. As part of the deal, you could write in terms and conditions for how that art is used or sold. So for instance. If you're becoming well known and art buyers start to pursue your work and "collect" it, then if any of your digital art works which have sold as a NFT resell, then you could capture a percentage of that sale, 10 per cent...and this can happen in perpetuity ! Yes, forever ! Blockchain is not going away ! Technology never goes backwards. So the more NFTs you create and sell, then for every re-sell of your artwork, YOU will receive a commission from that sale, instantaneously !! Why, because it would be detailed in the Smart Contract you set up when creating/platforming your NFT. Smart Contracts will be developed.
Physical Art ie (canvases, prints)
Ok, you've just finished painting a masterpiece on canvas, a one off, very unique, well, you can now take a photo of that masterpiece, then upload it to your NFT platform and sell or auction it as a NFT. But, you can now tag your physical canvas along with the digital photo and make that the NFT bundle, so whomever purchases the NFT, they will have an original art work, and they will also own the "only" digital copy of it too (legally own it, because they have the certificate to prove it, the NFT on the Blockchain).
And, if you're a composer AND an artist, you can compose the music specifically for that art piece, and bundle the music (mp3) with the digital photo and the physical canvas, you can sell it all in one bundle, as a NFT Collection.
Composer / Songwriter
Ok, very similar principle as the Artist scenario, but there are still issues around Royalties, Broadcast entitlement etc and it's unclear how music will be used in relation to say a Film/TV Production company buying your Music NFT then using it for their production on TV or Cinema Ad or Online Ad for a brand etc. New music NFT platforms may have templates in their policies, for you to use, as part of your profile/creative portfolio, to keep you legally safe. Again, early days.
So your new Single, EP or Album has been recorded and ready to be released. If you release it as a NFT, again, you can incorporate Smart Contracts into the NFT sale, for instance. If someone down the line wants to re-sell your music NFT (your Single or Album), then again, you can receive a percentage of that sale, because you stipulated that within the NFT / Smart Contract, that you would receive 10 % of all resells, forever !! Yes, forever, potentially. You could bundle your music release with unseen photos (digitalise them), lyrics, and you could bundle the digital with a hard copy CD or Vinyl and sign the cover, along with merchandise ! So with NFT's, you can bundle the physical product with it all (make sure you ship them out too !) . You could also give away your songs for free, but increase your resell percentage or you can include purchasers in with the Royalties, which is being done by some music artists now.
Again, same principle, upload your music to Music NFT platform, include Smart Contracts for resales, or use on media productions, then should your music be used etc, or sold on, you will capture a percentage of that sale.
The premise of it all is more or less the same, NFT's being the digital representation of your physical or digital work, which can then be traded on a Blockchain platform, which (for now), uses crypto-currencies, and there are a few around.
Same premise again, just apply it to Photography / Filmmaking
Now I hope you can see how this changes things, It changes the fact that perhaps no middlemen are required for you to succeed in your chosen area. What you MUST do is, develop and build your own fan base, following, your own community, because without it, you won't have any customers. You will capture some on NFT platforms, but alongside that, develop your own following too. They can work side by side.
NFT's and Blockchain also remove other obstacles. For instance, in Filmmaking, distribution is a gateway for a film/movie's success in reaching an audience. No distribution, no views. NFT's on Blockchain are a direct link to consumer. No distributors needed, it would go straight to the viewer/purchaser. Funding models for Indie Fimmaking will change, as pre-release bundles and ticket sales could be offered to raise capital for productions. Again, tag in physical aspects ie (signed photos, merchandise, unseen clips, outtakes etc).
This really does put the issues of Streaming, Publishing shares, Labels etc into question and if they're really needed now. If you have a large fan base and sell NFTs to finance your next album, why do you need a Label ? same with Publishing, why do you need a Publishing Deal, Smart Contracts will lessen the need for deals, so what will happen now is, Publishers & Labels might create their own NFT platforms or become involved in high profile ones.
Any payments from purchases of your NFT's go straight into your Digital Wallet (again, there are a few out there) if you manage your own NFT profile/portfolio, so no middle men, no gateway, straight into your bank account. Or use NFT Art or Music Platforms in conjunction with your own profile on ones like OpenSea (see my profile below). You can use multiple platforms, but you would need to take note of what NFTs are where, which images, video clips, etc are where and what deals/conditions come with them.
NFT hosting platforms will take some fee/s or percentage of sales, so do as much homework as you can on this and make sure you understand Smart Contracts. You don't want your song/music being used in a TV or Netflix commercial and you not being compensated. Smart Contracts are crucial. I can't stress this enough. Don't just sell or auction your music without some conditions as part of the sale.
Businesses / Brands
Now let's move onto Businesses, especially those who retail, sell physical products or offer services. Say you sell your own fashion designs, clothes etc and trying to establish a brand. You could NFT bundle digital tickets to fashon show, front seats, behind the scenes access, along with digital images, and signed photos of designs, with.......yes, physical products ! That would be your NFT Collection bundle. And if whomever purchases your NFT bundle wishes to sell on part or all of that bundle (should you become very well known), then you can recoup a percentage of any resale ! Again, written in Smart Contract.
This is all very new, and more and more business people and entrepreneurs realise this is all going to take off soon and in a really big way, as there are a lot of big investments in it all ! But, for now, it's the Wild West out there as of May 25th, 2021, but it will settle down eventually, in the same way the internet boom settled and when social media kicked off. The scope for NFTs, Blockchain will seep into every aspect of our lives over the next year. It will all become the norm. It's even anticipated that new social media platforms will arise from it all. New businesses will be formed, new ways of doing things and there will be a whole host of new Art, Music and Business NFT platforms soon, so do some research first and in doing that, also build up your following, your brand, because NFT marketplaces will become over saturated for a while, and if you're a music creator or artist, it will be a sea of competition out there, for you and your work to get noticed and sell any NFT's.
Additionally, regardless of what background your coming from or are in, you will also need to understand more about marketing your NFTs, because that will be half the battle in very saturated marketplaces.
Remember, this is all an emerging technology, so it will take time for it all to settle down and the hype and the "new craze" dust will settle. Learn as much as you can. There are also new Internet Technologies on the horizon too, so its all developing as we speak.
You will probably have to purchase some crypto currency to be able to trade or pay for fees on some sites, but I suspect that trading and all of this can be transacted using fiat money (normal money, if there is such a thing). Some sites accept credit card purchases of NFTs, it really depends on what the new platforms do. I'm keeping an eye on things over the next few weeks. I'll put out Blog posts.
Lastly, there are some concerns from an eco friendly perspective, a "save the planet" perspective. Because digital currencies/Blockchain framework is on peer to peer networks, that means there are thousands of computers (servers/data centres) constantly processing information and transactions, a lot....so concerns about energy use etc is prevalent just now, but this will be dealt with in time I imagine, as will more and more regulations come into play. These are exciting times indeed for creators and businesses ! And for consumers, music/art fans alike.
Please Note: The NBA in the USA release video clips of players/snippets of games, or training using NFTs and they sell for a lot of money !!! Why ? because people "collect" the things they love. Its a huge market, collectibles. And this will all leak into Gaming industries, gamers will be able to hear new songs in their world, or buy new art for their world, to show off. Its all heading towards the Meta Verse, Virtual Reality, which will be huge !
The NFT world is changing daily, it really is.
For Artists/Composers/Music Creators
Businesses & Brands will soon realise that they will need art work and music for their NFT's to sell products.
If you're looking for guidance, drop me an email
Here is my NFT Marketplace profile on OpenSea, which I've embded into my website.
As a creator, I'll be uploading soon to this and also some Art/Music NFT platforms which are live now, or will be soon.