This question has been bugging me for a long time since the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) started coming out in the market.
I’ve written about NFT before in a quest to learn more about it. This is what I learned and what I wrote: NFT is an acronym that stands for Non-Fungible Token. Taking the description from Wikipedia: “A non-fungible token is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFT can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio and other types of digital files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the buyer of the NFT. While copies of these digital items are available for anyone to obtain, NFT are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with a proof of ownership that is separate from copyright.”
Basically, an NFT is likened to a license to an original work. It is a digital certification of authenticity that the work is unique and is counted as an original.
In the music scene, there is a band that has used NFT to sell their work. Earlier this year, the Kings of Leon actually sold their album using NFT in a blockchain. This provided the purchaser with not only the work but a limited-edition vinyl record of the album. Bundled with it were front-row tickets to their concerts. This generated the band about $2 million for this album in about three weeks of its release.
To put it a bit in perspective, NFT actually do not have to be collectible per se, as prior to it being used as a new platform by the art world it was used in games. The NFT here were used for items needed in numerous games, and could be a one-off, making it more valuable. It could, however, also be a run of the mill sword or other weapons that can be exchanged in whatever gaming world you are playing in.
To go back to OPM, let’s be honest – record or album sales for OPM have not been great in the past decade. There are a few, almost just a handful, that have been able to reach this level of “success,” if that is still the metric for it. To put it even more simply, our beloved Pinoy musicians nowadays are gasping for ways to earn through their hard work in music. The pandemic, of course, did not help this, and in fact worsened the situation.
Most musicians I know — the struggling ones, not the popular ones — are really trying their best to make ends meet, and as talented as they are, it is still a hard industry to be in even at the best of times. So how would NFT possibly help?
I see NFT being another way for OPM to make somewhat of a dent in the Sisyphean task of trying to earn from their passion. It banks on originality, which Filipino musicians have so much of.
If a musician can study the way NFT works, and build on it through work that they have already done or are planning to do, it could increase the value of their work without having to rely on traditional pricing schemes.
Yet who determines what that value is? Someone who is into hip hop may not necessarily want to pay for a limited-edition work of one of the songs of a folk singer. The one thing I am holding onto though is that as wide a variety of genres as we now have in music, I am sure that there is someone out there who will find value in OPM NFT.
Could it work? I think it could, if done right. And there is no doubt that it can take off easily into the stratosphere if or when it does. Musicians can earn directly, without any other “middlemen” to muddle the transaction. This could possibly be a real way for our bands to earn their keep.