Music moved to the digital landscape a long time ago, but artists have considered creative ways to monetize their work online as the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented them from touring from city to city.
Alternative rock band Kings of Leon announced last week that they would release their latest album, When You See Yourself, as a non-fungible token (NFT). And today, the New York Times reported that a JPG file by artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, sold for $ 69.3 million at a Christie’s auction – a record for all-digital art.
In terms of cryptocurrency, this means fans can buy the album as a digital collector’s item, as NFTs, unlike bitcoins, cannot be exchanged for one another. The album is offered as NFT for a short time and then it is no longer made. While NFTs are typically used in the visual arts to demonstrably make digital art unique, Kings of Leon is the first band to release a full album this way.
“This is another example of blockchain technology moving more into the mainstream,” said Christopher Wilmer, associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.
Wilmer is also the co-managing editor for Ledger, the first peer-reviewed journal exploring cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. He was co-author of the book “Bitcoin for the Befuddled” and has held numerous workshops on cryptocurrency since he began to be interested in the field in 2010. He says NFT art could to some extent democratize the access of young and unknown artists to art collectors.
“When art is being sold for millions, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to make the transaction work. Experts confirm that the fine arts are not counterfeit, a long register of previous owners is carefully kept to determine the provenance, and a large number of people watch the transactions at auctions, which helps to maintain the “value” of the art at a large Group of people to consolidate people, “he said. “Blockchain technology in the context of NFT art enables many of these functions to be performed without human experts having to certify originality and provenance, and for digital marketplaces to serve as witnesses to the price and value of the work of art.”
While NFTs are typically associated with art, such as musician Grimes, who sold around $ 6 million worth of digital art in February, large corporations are also making use of NFT platforms. NBA TopShot, a collectable and tradable NFT-based app, sells tokens in bundles that contain multimedia. Sportswear company Nike holds a patent for its blockchain-based NFT sneakers called CryptoKicks.
However, some experts have questioned whether this is the future of the currency or just the marketing hype.
“The buy-in price is $ 50, and your money comes with a nice collection of digital media, a chance for lifetime front row seating, and other physical benefits. The fact that it’s on the blockchain and tradable is more novelty than anything to me, ”said Michael Hamilton, Assistant Professor of Business Administration. “To be the right currency and market-disrupting technology, people would actually have to trade these coins, and that is extremely difficult to imagine.”
Others have questioned sustainability practices when it comes to creating value from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Aurora Sharrard, Pitt’s director of sustainability, says Kings of Leon’s latest move is an example of “fast fashion.”
“Fast fashion is the opposite of sustainability: Articles are not produced responsibly. They are not high quality, long lasting products. and so are both cheap and waste, ”said Sharrard. “While NFTs and cryptocurrencies are a means for various industries and artists to bypass economic market hurdles, they are the digital fast-fashion of the day ecologically and require extreme amounts of electricity to produce intangible objects that are poorly social Benefit. “
Sharrard cited a 2019 study in the journal Energy Research & Social Science that estimated that every dollar of Bitcoin value created in 2018 was responsible for 49 cents of health and climate damage in the United States.
“The past year has shown very clearly that we need to focus more on the well-being of individuals, our communities and our planet,” she said. “The diversion from crypto methods that cause tremendous environmental and social damage is not good, entertaining entertainment – it’s wasteful fast-paced fashion.”