You’ve probably heard about non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a kind of digital asset that’s become really popular in the past year or two. They’ve become really prevalent in digital music distribution and consumption, especially in the form of NFT albums.
In this post, we'll go over everything you need to know about both music NFTs and NFT albums. We’ll also talk about where you can find them, how to buy them, and some notable examples of NFT albums from the past couple years.
What Are The Different Kinds of Music NFTs?
Before we get into our discussion about NFT albums, let’s just review NFTs in general. This will help you understand some of the terminology, which can sometimes feel a little overwhelming.
First and foremost, NFT stands for non-fungible token. To put it in simplest terms, this is a digital file that’s been authenticated and certified as 100% unique and that can’t be copied, substituted, or divided up. Essentially, it’s an “original” file that functions as a kind of digital asset (also called a crypto asset).
As you might imagine, an NFT is valuable because of its uniqueness and scarcity. This makes NFTs distinct from regular digital files, which can be infinitely duplicated and shared.
For a more comprehensive description of NFTs, make sure you check out our blog post What Are Music NFTs? In it, we give a detailed breakdown of NFTs, highlight their unique properties, and explain how the blockchain works.
Additionally, there are specific types of NFTs that deal with music including:
- Digital merchandise
Finally, some musicians are also including personal experiences with the NFTs that they’re minting and selling, including the opportunity to meet or even collaborate with the artist in question. This is commonly referred to as adding utility, and it’s one of the main reasons why so many buyers are getting so excited about the NFT space.
That being said, this is an exciting time - these NFTs are perfect for the growing metaverse, which is a more immersive version of our current internet. They’re essentially digital versions of real-world objects of value, which add depth to the growing metaverse and make it feel more “lifelike”.
What’s An NFT Album?
To put it simply, an NFT album is a type of music NFT. It’s a set of unique files that are the digital versions of a “record” or “album”, a piece of physical media that used to be the primary way that music lovers listened to music.
An NFT album is usually a collection of songs by an artist that is sequenced and grouped together, sometimes as part of a wider theme or motif. It’s sometimes also called an NFT collection since it is - in fact - a “collection” of song NFTs. When an artist or musician releases an NFT album - or any music NFT, for that matter - this is most frequently referred to as a drop.
Of course, physical media is becoming less frequently consumed as more consumers turn to digital forms, especially streaming. However, NFT albums will probably play an increasingly greater role in the music industry. Similar to how downloading digital music files and streaming have revolutionized how we consume music in the past 25 years, buying music NFTs in general - and NFT albums specifically - will almost certainly become much more commonplace in the years to come.
But who will be buying these NFT albums? Essentially, there are currently three basic types of buyers:
- Fans of a band or artist who want to “own” a piece of music history from their favorite musicians.
- Collectors who are building collections of various NFTs, including NFT albums.
- Investors who buy NFT albums and then sell them for a profit; they may also keep them as part of an investment portfolio.
In other words, you can break these categories down into three action words: enjoy, collect, or invest. Those are the three main reasons consumers are clamoring for NFT albums, and music NFTs in general.
As you might imagine, many people are nostalgic for the bygone years of "owning" an actual album or record, complete with artwork that's sometimes as amazing as the record. An NFT album recreates some of that "magic", making it feel like you have a priceless piece of art and not just some digital file that can be copied and pasted.
This might seem harder to grasp for younger music lovers, who've probably always listened to and/or streamed music on a digital medium. However, if you were still around for the heyday of physical albums, including vinyl records, CDs, cassette tapes, and even 8-tracks, then you might be one of those music lovers who wants to recapture some of that "magic".
How Do I Find NFT Albums For Sale?
Looking for NFT albums isn’t as easy as hopping on the Apple iTunes store and buying some songs. In most cases, it’ll take a little more digging than that.
Let’s not forget that NFT sales are still primarily done via NFT marketplaces, so it goes without saying that the easiest way to find NFT albums is to go on one of these NFT marketplaces and browse what they have to offer. It’s best to choose a marketplace with a “freemium” model so you can only buy the NFT albums you want.
You should also find one that caters specifically to the genre or genres of music that you love most. In many cases, musicians will partner with a specific marketplace and offer multiple NFTs, including both NFT albums as well as metaverse experiences or even in real world (IRL) opportunities.
However, you can also find NFT albums for sale by going directly to the source: the bands or artists. If you want to hear about upcoming NFT drops they may be offering, make sure you follow the band/artist. You should especially pay attention to their social media, including Twitter or Instagram, which is where most artists usually announce upcoming drops.
RELATED ARTICLE: Where Do I Buy Music NFTs?
How Do I Buy NFT Albums?
As the popularity of NFTs and the metaverse continue to expand, it’s actually become pretty easy to buy NFT albums.
If you’re interested in shopping for these NFTs, as a fan, collector, or investor, then just follow these pretty simple steps:
- Find and choose an NFT marketplace, preferably one that specializes in music NFTs. For instance, The HUSL is an excellent option that's emerged for music fans and metaverse enthusiasts.
- Download a crypto wallet so that you can use cryptocurrency to buy the NFT albums. MetaMask is a great choice that works seamlessly on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain. This is also where the NFT album will be transferred to after you make the final purchase.
- Put cryptocurrency in your wallet, otherwise known as funding the wallet. The easiest way to do this is by converting fiat currency (like dollars, pounds, or euro) into the cryptocurrency of your choice. Popular options include Binance, Coinbase, FTX, WazirX, Huobi Global, and Bitfinex. In most cases, the cryptocurrency will be Ethereum since most music NFT marketplaces are on the ETH blockchain.
- Create an account at the marketplace you choose to use. Once that’s done, you’ll also have to connect your crypto wallet to that account.
- Find NFT albums you want to buy, either by browsing the NFT marketplace itself or following your favorite artists to see what NFTs they decide to drop.
- Pay for the NFT album, usually via the Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency, and then have it transferred securely to your crypto wallet.
Once you finish the last step, you now own the NFT album as a one-of-a-kind and totally unique piece of music.
Finally, it’s important to note that as NFTs gain more popularity and more artists decide to offer NFT album drops, it’s important that the artist in question stay deeply involved with the fans and the entire release process. In other words, they have to hype up the drop as much as possible because NFTs are all about the exclusivity and access that it grants fans or collectors to the music artist.
Are Most NFT Albums On The Ethereum Blockchain?
Yes, currently most NFT albums are stored on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, including all the music NFT drops that are offered with the HUSL NFT marketplace.
However, let’s just quickly explain the blockchain: this is a digital ledger of transactions that is distributed across an entire network of computer systems. This is the primary method by which you can determine that an NFT is 100% unique and real, thereby giving you a foolproof way to determine authenticity.
Plus, when it comes to the transfer of digital assets, including things like cryptocurrency or NFTs, the blockchain is totally decentralized. Remember that it’s spread across a series of computer systems. In other words, it’s not like a bank, where all information is stored in a single, central database. Instead, this sensitive information is spread across the entire internet and is then highly encrypted, making it very secure.
What Are Some Notable NFT Album Releases?
Let’s take a moment to look at some of the most notable NFT album releases that have occurred recently:
Kings of Leon
When it comes to NFT albums, retro rock band Kings of Leon were some of the earliest innovators. In fact, they were pretty far ahead of the curve when they released their album When You See Yourself as an NFT in March of 2021.
Each sale included exclusive artwork as well as a limited edition “Golden Eye” vinyl. It ended up being a huge success - they offered this NFT album for only two weeks and generated over $2 million in sales. As impressive as that is, they then donated $500,000 to Live Nation’s Crew Nation fund to help live music crews, technicians, and roadies who had lost their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, they offered some added utility to their NFT sales in the form of six “Golden Ticket” auctions, guaranteeing each winner four front-row seats to a single show of every Kings of Leon tour in the future.
Although the music industry was still pretty skeptical when the band announced their NFT album offering, its tremendous success has been a positive “proof of concept” that this kind of sales model has a lot of viability with music lovers.
Belave (Devon Welsh)
While many people think that Kings of Leon were the first to offer a full NFT album, Devon Welsh’s band Belave actually beat them to the punch by just a few days. Although they may not be as much of a household name as Kings of Leon, they generated a lot of great press with their NFT offering.
In early March of 2021, they started selling their third studio album Does the bird fly over your head? as a full NFT album. As a matter of fact, they released the album about six months prior through regular channels, including physical media and streaming, but they minted it as an NFT and set an exciting precedent in the process.
The band included a tongue-in-cheek message with the release that reads as follows: “Third album[...] originally released in September 2020. Belave is now officially the 'first band to release an album as an NFT,' beating out Kings of Leon by ~36 hours. Claims to the contrary are false.” That’s quite the statement, but you have to give credit where credit’s due.
There is another artist potentially trying to stake the claim that they are - in fact - the first to sell an NFT album. In February of 2021, electronic music producer 3LAU sold a collection of 33 different NFTs for an astonishing $11.7 million. Some of these NFTs included physical vinyl, unreleased music, and even metaverse or IRL experiences.
Whether or not this is the “first” NFT album is debatable, since it is technically a collection of NFTs. However, 3LAU has not been as adamant as Kings of Leon or Belave that it is an “album”, so ultimately it’s up to the fans or collectors to decide.
Since the NFT space is still kind of the Wild West, these old concepts of how music is sold and consumed might soon be obsolete. At any rate, 3LAU is definitely another one of the music NFT pioneers and certainly deserves his share of the credit.
In late March 2021, right around the same time as Kings of Leon and Belave, another artist also put up one of the first NFT albums ever available. Synth-pop musician Clarian offered his latest record, Whale Shark, for sale as an NFT, hoping to disrupt the music industry in the process.
Although the album is available to stream and purchase on Bandcamp, whoever owns the actual NFT version also owns all the masters and publishing rights. In fact, the NFT album was transferred directly from Clarian to the new owner with no middleman, giving another exciting “proof of concept” for how these types of NFT sales can work.
Back in 2015, Wu-Tang Clan recorded Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, a single copy and highly collectible studio album that came in a lavish case. The sole copy was sold for an astonishing $2 million to Martin Shkreli, a controversial Wall Street fraudster who then had to sell it in order to help him pay the restitution he owed to the victims of his financial crimes.
Of course, this was not originally an NFT, but the unique and strange saga doesn’t end there. In October of 2021, a collective of NFT enthusiasts, collectors, and investors called PleasrDAO, purchased the one-of-a-kind record for $4 million and are now going to turn it into an NFT album.
Additionally, they’re going to offer a number of other NFT drops, all related to the album.
Although they haven’t fully explained what this will all look like, a lot of metaverse and NFT enthusiasts, especially those who love and follow hip hop, are excitedly awaiting what they’ll offer.
In April of 2021, hip hop star Curren$y also joined the NFT craze and offered their latest record Smoke Sesh as an NFT album.
This not only included all the studio songs, but a variety of other added bonuses, including an EP, physical artwork, digital artwork, backstage passes, “hangout sessions”, trips, and even jewelry.
This is yet another example of an artist trying to stay ahead of the curve, although this NFT album drop arguably offers even more added utilities than any of the others already mentioned.
Does An NFT Album Include Publishing Or Copyright?
It depends entirely on what the artist includes in the sale.
Let’s consider the following example: if you bought a one-of-a-kind, collectible copy of a Rolling Stones record, that certainly doesn’t guarantee you the copyright or any of the licensing for their intellectual property. It simply means that you own that particular collectible record, priceless as it may be!
That being said, based on how they mint the NFT album, the artist can include some form of licensing or copyright. For example, Grammy-winning producer Illmind released the first NFT-backed sample loop and melody pack. This particular NFT collection included 10 melody compositions and came with a “royalty-free guarantee”. It also included a contract that gives the NFT owner rights to use the audio files for their own purposes.
Another example is Jacques Greene selling the publishing rights to his new single in the form of an NFT for approximately $20,000. However, these are the exception, not the rule. In most cases, the NFT does not include the copyright or any of the licensing.
Obviously, if you buy an NFT album and own - either permanently or temporarily - some or all of the licensing or copyright, then you can hypothetically secure an additional source of revenue for yourself. This is especially true if the artist behind the NFT album is in high demand for licensing. Of course, if that’s something you’re interested in, you’ll have to confirm these details before you make the final purchase.
Find Exclusive NFT Albums At The HUSL
The HUSL is a music NFT marketplace on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain with one-of-a-kind collectibles, unique music products, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and access to exclusive events. Of course, since we specialize in music NFTs, our drops also include the newest NFT albums.
Our primary mission is to connect the most beloved musicians of today with their biggest fans in the growing metaverse. Luckily for music fans, we offer a basic “freemium” model that radically prioritizes exclusivity, collectability, and community. For us, the creators and their fans come first, all while emphasizing transparency, diversification, and grassroots interactions.
At the end of the day, buying and selling music NFTs on a marketplace like The Husl takes a lot of the power and profit from middlemen and corporations and gives it back to creators and fans. It’s a total overhaul of the music business, making it more geared towards the musicians and their biggest fans.
To get started, launch the HUSL app today!