Creators are flocking to the NFT marketplace, and musicians are clearly no exception. While they share some industry attributes and considerations with the larger artistic community on blockchain, they also have unique challenges and considerations – managing rights and royalties and dividing projects between them.
This is the path that TuneGO, which already operates a technology platform that creates a digital fingerprint for individual songs and metadata associated with tracks, is heading towards its expansion into NFTs. The company is launching an NFT Marketplace that provides musicians with a unified platform to secure their content, protect their creative rights, create NFTs, distribute on streaming platforms and monetize through social media, video games and movies.
TuneGONFT operates on the Flow blockchain in collaboration with Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot whose partner studios include the NBA, NBPA, WNBA, WNBPA, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, Genies, and UFC. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Coatue and Union Square Ventures.
The inaugural drop of the new platform is an NFT from Method Man’s tick world Comic Universe, part of a series of comic books by the artist that will also include previously unreleased music. TuneGO is also partnering with Hidden Beach Recordings as part of a long-term NFT initiative. John Kohl, co-founder and CEO, says a major label announcement is coming, and several A-list artists have NFT content in the TuneGO pipeline.
“Our mission is to become the music industry’s default marketplace,” says Kohl.
Speaking about NFT’s overall opportunity for musicians, Lesley Silverman, who leads United Talent Agency’s digital assets division at United Talent Agency, said, “Since Napster, artists really haven’t been able to monetize directly what they create on the musical side. Overall, this technology has the ability to allow creators to engage with their fans in more meaningful ways.
The still-nascent conversation around NFTs necessitates a genuine interest in the blockchain and crypto spaces from artists and their fan communities, Silverman notes. “There are many tools. Anyone who can help you speak that language is going to be a very important co-pilot right now,” she notes.
“Blockchain is reshaping the way people use and interact with our digital world,” says Mickey Maher, Head of Stream Partnerships at Dapper Labs. “Our partnership with TuneGO helps the creative community harness blockchain to transform the way they and their audiences create and consume content, while protecting what they own and market.”
Already entrenched in the recorded music and distribution market, TuneGO’s NFT foray promises musicians the direct line to connect directly with fans and monetize their art both inside and outside the traditional music industry.
“We can work with labels, but our door is open to the indie community,” says Kohl, who says that when TuneGo launched in 2013, indie music accounted for 35% of all industry revenue. “Today it’s around 42%, and I see it growing every year. I love that artists are becoming more educated with more tools to distribute their own music, the ability to become popular on social media, they don’t always have to give up all their rights anymore, and if a label wants to come later, they have a bit more control.
From a label perspective, Kohl says his current conversations tend to focus on, “We don’t have the expertise or the bandwidth or the technology to do that. We need to partner with someone who does, and we need help with execution and on the creative side.
Perhaps most important for artists, the TuneGO platform hosts the tools the music community explicitly needs to ensure that every stakeholder – from writer to artist to session musician and the engineer – be paid for his work.
The heart of its NFT platform is the TuneGOVault, which thousands of musicians already use for sound recordings. Among its key attributes is complete transparency regarding creator divisions. The platform tracks the revenue distribution of NFT sales, as well as the major recording and publishing divisions of music associated with NFTs, and requires all copyright owners, songwriters, and publishers to review and approve creative rights before the NFT is minted. This is a big selling point of the platform, given that the average song today has more than six stakeholders, sometimes as many as 10 or more.
“The basis of music rights is still outdated,” says Kohl. “Every year there are still billions of dollars in music royalties that are collected by collecting societies and not redistributed to the creative world. Sound Exchange sits on literally $500 million a year. They collected the money and they say they don’t even know where to send it.