If you’re wandering around the corners of the internet secretly wondering what everyone’s talking about when you see a news article or a Tweet about “NFTs,” you’re certainly not alone. What was once a few random letters strung together with that was seemingly meaningless to most people is now one of the most popular pieces of tech, art, and culture news. Even fans of The Bachelor theorized the possibility that lead Matt James was going to release a “tell all” of his time on the show via NFT.
NFTs have been around for a while, but have only recently been brought into the mainstream. An NFT, or a non-fungible token, represents a unique digital item, and can represent things such as a piece of art that only exists in the digital space or even an album (RE: Kings of Leon). If you’re still not following (it’s okay), here’s a bit more insight via BBC:
“In economics, a fungible asset is something with units that can be readily interchanged – like money. With money, you can swap a £10 note for two £5 notes and it will have the same value. However, if something is non-fungible, this is impossible – it means it has unique properties so it cannot be interchanged with something else. NFTs are “one-of-a-kind” assets in the digital world that can be bought and sold like any other piece of property, but they have no tangible form of their own. Traditional works of art such as paintings are valuable because they are one of a kind. But digital files can be easily and endlessly duplicated. With NFTs, artwork can be “tokenised” to create a digital certificate of ownership that can be bought and sold.”
So remember that Kings of Leon album I mentioned? Yeah, they released their 2021 album When You See Yourself as a non-fungible token, becoming the first band to ever do so. The album was available for purchase in three different types: one is a special album package, the second includes “front-row seats for life,” and the third type is for “exclusive audiovisual art.” The band has made over $2 million in sales so far. Other artists like Portugal. The Man and Grimes have also recently gotten in on the NFT action as well. M.I.A. just announced an NFT art exhibit.
Creators who dabble in the arts AND music are the ones who could really succeed in the NFT era, and Dutch artist Nick van Hofwegan (who releases music under the moniker Young & Sick) has been creating visuals for musicians like Foster The People, Maroon 5, Machine Gun Kelly and more, and he’s also released and toured music of his own. His first addition to the NFT world was back in March 2021, and he’s recently decided to pay it forward by collaborating with his label, Neon Gold Records, to support NIVA (National Independent Venue Association). Young & Sick’s Save our Stages collection is a tribute to some of the most iconic independent music venues in the United States, including 9:30 Club, Bowery Ballroom, Exit/In, First Avenue, The Independent, Mohawk, The Metro, Neumo’s, Tipitina’s, and The Troubadour. The fundraiser directly benefits these venues as well as the NIVA emergency relief fund.
Young & Sick has designed a unique 1 of 1 NFT for each venue (each with custom unreleased music). The highest bidder will be granted a “golden ticket” package of BIP access to any show at that venue for a year in addition to other perks. The NFT are guaranteed to be 100% carbon neutral, which means what exactly? That it will achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions, which surprisingly, isn’t the standard for non-fungible tokens. Something digital can be bad for the environment? Absolutely. According to writer Everest Pipkin, “minting artwork on the blockchain uses somewhere between weeks, months, years, (and in rare instances decades) of an average EU or US citizen’s energy consumption” (more on this here). Last month, New-Zealand based company VeVe announced their mission to become the first Digital Collections Platform committed to 100% carbon neutral NFTs.
While you may not have a couple thousand dollars laying around to place your bid on your favorite venue’s one-of-a-kind NFT (First Avenue’s NFT is currently sitting at an $18,000 bid), you can donate to NIVA here. I also have a feeling we’ll be seeing many more artists dip their toes into the NFT world in ways we can’t even imagine, so buckle up.
The Save Our Stages NFT fundraiser ends on Friday, April 9 at 4pm CST. Check it out here.