The music industry has gone through quite the revolution—from records to cassette tapes to CDs to streaming. Artists went from being dependent on standard 360 deals to 180 deals and 270 deals. Then came an abundance of independent artists who skipped the middle man (i.e. record label) altogether, with Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” as a prime example of how lucrative streaming could be. Sean “Jay Z” Carter even tried a smartphone partnership for $5 million with “Magna Carta Holy Grail” and as the former co-owner of his own subscription-based music and podcast company TIDAL.
While touring largely pays music artists more money than their music these days, artists continue to get creative with sales techniques. The Weekend is one of the latest, with news of his blockchain deal with Nifty Gateway. Announced via Twitter, the headliner for the Super Bowl LV halftime show is set to release new music and limited edition art from Strange Loop Studios on Sat., April 3, at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT.
Blockchains and the music industry: What are blockchains?
To simplify a blockchain, it’s a database, which is “designed to house significantly larger amounts of information that can be accessed, filtered, and manipulated quickly and easily by any number of users at once.” (Keep in mind that all blockchains are databases. However, not all databases are blockchains.) Blockchains are also commonly used to store cryptocurrency transaction history.
How does Nifty connect to music artists?
According to Nifty Gateway’s official site, this company is a centralized, U.S.-based marketplace intended to buy and sell Nifties. What are Nifties? They are digital items that their users can truly own, as opposed to depending on a specific platform to keep it for streaming or temporary use as needed. (As an example, think of Netflix movies and TV shows that are removed from the site or artists who remove their music from certain streaming sites.)
Nifty Gateway teams up with artists and brands to create collections of “limited edition, high-quality Nifties” that can only be found on their platform. The drops are scheduled once every three weeks at a specific time and only for a limited time. Once that collection closes out or is sold, users still have the ability to buy Nifties via that collection’s marketplace.
Nifty is owned by Gemini, a New York-based cryptocurrency exchange and custodian that allows customers to buy, sell and store digit assets.
Because Nifties live on a blockchain, it’s not something that can be taken away (in the way that streaming sites, record labels, publishing companies, etc. can wipe out their inventory). No one can take Nifties away, including the person who created them (in this case, the Weeknd or his XO record label). Nifties can be purchased via bank account or withdrawal via Gemini.
Other creatives who have used Nifties include photographer Lyle Owerko, oil-painting artist Michael Kagan and mixed martial artist Cris Cyborg.