When it comes to the world of Crypto + Music + Art + Millions, it has become the wild, wild west out here.
I haven’t seen something so exciting, so explosive, so disruptive, and so dangerous since the early days of Napster.
NFT pandemonium is dominating culture. It’s a perfect storm of timing, technology, and circumstance, leading to rapid, industry-wide change. Soon, NFT will lose its buzzword status and become a household acronym, “like WTF is going on with NFT”? Before that happens, let’s break it down. The basic idea of the technology is fairly straightforward. An NFT — which stands for non-fungible token (say what?) — is like a certificate of authenticity for an object, real or virtual. The unique digital file is stored on a blockchain network, with any changes in ownership verified by a worldwide network and logged in public. That means that the chain of custody is marked in the file itself permanently, plus it’s practically impossible to swap in a fake.
This week alone there was Christie’s release with JPG artist, Beeple, which yielded $63.9 Million at auction; American footballer Rob Gronkowski, with the help of event promotions company Medium Rare, dropped a set of NFT trading cards earning $1.5 Million on the marketplace, OpenSea; and EDM DJ and savvy investor known as, 3LAU, the ringleader of this space right now, has a major drop with visual artist Slimesunday coming via Nifty Gateway. The album he dropped two weeks ago earned him over $11.5 million and cemented his crypto art legacy.
To be clear, the NFT file doesn’t contain the digital piece of art or the video clip. It is literally a contract, saying “the owner of this NFT owns this other digital file,” with a link to the art file itself. NFTs could also be used as unforgeable digital tickets to events, or even ownership records for property sales - all they really are, are one-of-a-kind bits of code with a verifiable chain of title attached.
Brands, naturally, are getting in the game. TacoBell did a drop this week that sold out in 30 minutes. It’s reselling on the secondary market for $187,000 (100 Ethereum). There are so many opportunities for brands to get in at this moment. It’s exciting to see the collectibles space evolving to combine art, music, technology, brands, and culture.
Unfortunately, some outrageous blindspots are revealing themselves. A company called BitClout orchestrated the sale of celebrity-backed NFTs without obtaining permission. That’s right, with a White Paper dropping on Friday, the company released coins of about 15,000 Twitter influencers and celebrities without their consent. Immediately, “Creator Coins” started soaring in price and the site crashed. I don’t think this stunt was legal and I’m sure it annoyed a lot of artists whose coins were trading on their names without their knowledge, but it got everyone’s attention and put new possibilities on display.
BitClout sent a jolt of uncertainty (and wild spending) through the system. It was really reckless. We’re already dealing with misinformation, disinformation, and deep fakes online. There are apps and videos that can simulate stars. Everywhere I look, from TikTok (with Tom Cruise) to Clubhouse impersonators where people are being faked into mass virality within hours, there needs to be better security. How safe and secure is the Blockchain if NFTs are being stolen right from people’s digital wallets, to the tune of $5.4 million? There is only so much a marketplace like Nifty Gateway can do. The crypto world has always posed a risk of theft and fraud. Since blockchain transactions are anonymous and irreversible, a compromised password is a significant risk for people who have invested thousands in digital assets.
But I truly love the action, the wildness, the transformation, and the opportunities. Growing pains, people! I’m watching the space closely and devising ways to build a bridge for artists and brands into the market. When the Craps table is hot, you want to have the dice. Do you smell a Portugal artist drop with The Portugal News in the near future? Perhaps! Our bonita Portugal certainly could use a chance to earn, but also see what we can learn about how to help guide you as things stabilise in NFT world. Our bet is that digital collectibles mixed with real-world experiences and culture will be the future… Stay tuned.