All About Music NFTs: How It Works & Pioneering Artists

All About Music NFTs_ How It Works & Pioneering Artists
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NFTs are a game-changer in the music industry

The music industry has found a groundbreaking application in Music NFTs. Beyond jpg files as digital art, non-fungible tokens have the potential to overhaul traditional practices, with artists big and small tapping into this opportunity. Fans can own pieces of moments, digital albums, and concert tickets forever on the blockchain. Musicians get the chance to speak directly to their communities. Want to know how? Stick with us, and let’s navigate this fascinating digital wave together.


What are Music NFTs?

Music NFTs are emerging as a transformative force for artists and fans alike. They present an innovative way to store music on a blockchain, replacing traditional formats like MP3s or CDs. 

With each piece of music represented as an NFT, the blockchain ensures the work’s authenticity, confirming its originality and linking it indelibly to the creator. This digital ledger system allows for a level of ownership previously unattainable in the digital music realm.

Recap: what are NFTs and how they work

Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, are unique digital assets stored on a blockchain, generally associated with the Ethereum network but nowadays also on many other blockchains. NFTs’ distinctiveness lies in their ability to assign a digital certificate of authenticity and ownership to digital items, making them unforgeable and traceable back to the original creator.

The NFT industry has seen exponential growth, peaking in early 2021 with billions of dollars spent in transactions. This movement wasn’t merely confined to digital artworks, but the scope widened, hitting different sectors, with the music industry standing out as one of the most promising.

If in doubt, read our guide on NFTs and see trending NFT collections on the DappRadar Rankings.

NFTs in the music industry

In the world of Music NFTs, musicians hold the power. Artists from various genres, including Eminem, Don Diablo, The Weeknd, Aphex Twin, Kings of Leon, and Snoop Dogg, have jumped onto the NFT bandwagon, premiering their exclusive collections.

Rather than offering the usual audio tracks, music videos, and the occasional merch at concerts, these artists can now provide their fans with Web3 experiences. And what’s best: without intermediaries profiting from their work.

How musicians can profit from NFTs

Music NFTs present many possibilities for musicians to share their creativity, engage with fans, and redefine their revenue streams. Here’s a deeper look into how musicians can harness the power of NFTs:

Singles and albums

A song or an entire album can be turned into an NFT, providing a unique digital asset that fans can purchase. Unlike traditional digital downloads or streaming, where fans pay for access to music, NFTs allow them to own a piece of the music, sometimes even a limited edition. This creates a more intimate connection between artists and their fans and potentially opens new income avenues for musicians.

A legendary example was set in December 2021 by the legendary singer Whitney Houston, who had her NFT collection of videos, images, and songs – with an unreleased demo – raising over $1 million.

DJ 3LAU, another original trailblazer in the realm of music NFTs, has made a significant impact on the web3 music industry. He has reportedly earned over $20 million from NFT sales. The artist, whose real name is Justin Blau, embarked on his NFT journey in 2020. In February 2021, he converted his electronic album, Ultraviolet, into 33 NFTs, generating $11.6 million at launch. His bold risk-taking paid off, establishing him as an early innovator in the NFT music space.

Eminem pioneered the intersection of music and blockchain technology in April 2021, being one of the initial artists to introduce original music tracks on the blockchain. He unveiled the Shady Con collection on the Nifty Gateway platform, promptly earning $1.78 million following the release.

Also in 2021, American rock band Kings of Leon became the first band to launch an album as an NFT collection. At launch, the When You See Yourself album reached number 11 on Billboard and until now has a sales volume of over 970 ETH ($1,8 million).

As pioneers in all-things-web3, Snoop Dogg and Steve Aoki were some of the first artists to create an NFT album in May 2022, the ​​Alpha Doggz Da Da EP, under the guidance of the Gala Music ecosystem – a decentralized music streaming platform.

Concert tickets

On the events side, concert tickets can be minted as NFTs and last forever on the blockchain. Not only does this prevent counterfeit tickets, but it also provides a digital collectible commemorating the event. Fans owning these NFT tickets could gain access to exclusive experiences, like backstage passes, meet-and-greets, or VIP seating, adding more value to the concert-going experience.

Coachella, one of the world’s most popular music festivals, jumped into the NFT space in early 2022, offering lifetime festival passes as NFTs. This move marked an innovative approach to festival ticketing and fan engagement.

That same year, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, Ticketmaster, announced that it would start letting event organizers on the platform issue NFT tickets on the Flow blockchain. In March 2023, heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold debuted the NFT-gated ticket sales on the platform.

Snoop Dogg Passport Series NFTs

In June 2023, Snoop Dogg launched a new NFT collection on the Arbitrum blockchain called Passport Series. It will evolve with the rapper’s tour and give owners exclusive access to art, merchandise, and behind-the-scenes content.

Forging a new path in ticketing services, Get Protocol harnesses NFT technology to provide a modern “Web 2.5” solution, presenting a significant shift from conventional providers such as Ticketmaster. Its successful $4.5 million seed funding round in July 2023 and the issuance of over 4 million blockchain-based tickets for prominent artists like Ne-Yo and Louis Capaldi underscore its potential to revolutionize the event ticketing landscape.

Music Videos

Music videos can also be transformed into NFTs, allowing fans to own these digital art pieces. Given the visual nature of music videos, this type of NFT has the potential to be particularly valuable, especially when they are limited editions or contain exclusive content.

From another point of view, Eminem and Snoop Dogg attracted attention in June 2022 by using the IPs of their Bored Ape NFTs to illustrate a partnership clip between the two. Anyone who owns one of these NFTs can use them on branded content of their own in whatever business they have in mind.

Merchandising and special editions

Merchandise, such as digital posters and wearables or artist-created avatars, can also be minted as NFTs. The exclusivity and uniqueness of these items could make them highly desirable to fans and collectors alike.

Shawn Mendes pop singer collectibles

Take Canadian pop singer Shawn Mendes for example. He made waves in the web3 space in February 2021 by launching wearables NFTs inspired by his album Wonder with Genie. His NFTs sales volume surpasses $1 million (628 ETH). 

A similar story to The Weeknd’s The Weeknd x Billboard autograph collection from December 2021, celebrating his hit single ‘Blinding Lights’ being named the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 Song of All Time.

In April 2023, Pharrell Williams, that is also a Chief Brand Officer at the Doodles NFT collection, partnered with Adidas to launch NFT wearables for the Doodles avatars. In 2022, he announced he would be signing an NFT album with Doodles Records as well, but we’re still waiting for it.

Metaverse virtual events

Stepping even further from the mainstream, artists are now discovering a new way to showcase their music live in virtual concerts on metaverse worlds. The best way to get acquainted with this concept is by looking at the Metaverse Music Festival, hosted on the Decentraland metaverse annually.

The 4-day 2022 festival united 200+ artists such as Björk, Ozzy Osbourne, and Souljaboy and was a success. It not only engaged the Web3 space with amazing musical experiences but also became the target of mass media worldwide.

This new age of virtual music also allows people to create tracks with AI and have web3 bands. It’s the case with Kingship, a band made up of 4 virtual apes from the BAYC and MAYC collections signed by Universal Music Group in 2021, that thrive in the Web3 space.

Moreover, various artists own virtual land in the Sandbox metaverse, like Steve Aoki and Snoop Dogg, having already launched partnerships with special gamified experiences with their avatars’ participation.

The artist’s perspective

Luciano Mathias, DappRadar’s Ambassador and independent artist, experimented with sharing his songs with the world through Web3. He chose to list his album on the Audius platform as well as on the leading NFT marketplace OpenSea.

“What is awesome about Web3 and platforms like Audius is that I don’t need a record company to guide me. I can be in direct contact with people who like my songs, they can earn crypto by listening and it’s completely organic and community-oriented.”

Luciano Mathias to DappRadar
Luciano Mathias NFT album on Audius

From his point of view, Web3 has removed the intermediary, allowing artists to have more freedom to experiment and own their artwork.

What fans get out of buying their favorite artists’ NFTs

Music NFTs offer fans an immersive experience transcending the norm of just streaming songs. Through these tokens, fans can:

  • Claim ownership of exclusive album art.
  • Gain access to VIP concert experiences.
  • Establish a direct, meaningful connection with their favorite artists.
  • Engage with unique, blockchain-verified pieces of an artist’s work.
  • Enjoy a diverse range of exclusive perks and experiences.

This transformative dynamic fosters a new kind of artist-fan relationship that traditional interactions could hardly achieve. While from the day-to-day user experience owning an NFT album isn’t necessarily different from listening to it on Spotify, it is a direct fan-artist relationship. 

By buying your favorite artists’ NFTs, you’d be supporting their music directly instead of spreading their profits among intermediaries. Above all, these NFTs allow creators to benefit from increased royalties earnings.

How copyrights work with music NFTs

Navigating the intersection of copyrights and NFTs can be a complex endeavor, especially in the music industry. When an artist mints an NFT, they aren’t necessarily selling the copyright to their work. Essentially, they’re selling a unique, blockchain-verified piece of digital art, which could be a song, album, or other creative output.

The crucial distinction is that purchasing an NFT doesn’t automatically grant the buyer copyright ownership. The artist still retains the rights to their work unless explicitly stated otherwise. However, artists can weave specific rights into their NFTs, creating an innovative approach to rights management.

For example, an artist might encode the right to earn royalties into their NFT, enabling them to receive a percentage of future sales. Alternatively, they could allow the NFT owner to use the music in specific ways, like in a personal video or at a private event. In short, NFTs offer a flexible platform for artists to manage and monetize their copyrights in ways that were previously impossible.

Music distribution in Web3: decentralized streaming apps

When it comes to distributing talent in Web3, a few projects have started popping up and are ready to lead this new era for music. Noteworthy are:

By purchasing a piece of a song or album on them, you gain a percentage of the streaming royalty rights, effectively becoming a stakeholder in the artist’s success. In addition, ownership can unlock a host of benefits, including concert tickets, merchandise, and exclusive experiences. 

Artists such as Diplo, Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, and The Chainsmokers have already embraced this innovative model, marking a significant shift in how music is monetized and consumed.

FanTiger is another noteworthy platform in this context. This music NFT marketplace is focused on the Indian music industry, providing a space for artists to mint and sell their music as NFTs. By doing so, FanTiger offers a unique opportunity for Indian artists to tap into the benefits of Web3, creating a decentralized platform for music distribution.

You can discover collectibles and analyze the NFT market across 50 blockchains on DappRadar. It’s an exciting time to enjoy music, and we’re excited to see how this new industry evolves. Explore the most traded music NFTs, delve deeper into their value, and understand the dynamics of this evolving digital market.

DappRadar NFT Ranking

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