Last month, Ditto Music‘s blockchain-powered Bluebox platform pulled off a pioneering feat: what the company describes as “the first ever split music copyright NFT sale”.
In the end, two artists – UK rapper Big Zuu and US act Taylor Bennett – each sold large stakes (50% and 75% respectively) in the recorded music rights to a yet-to-be-released track. These stakes were themselves divided up into 1% portions as NFTs, selling for $100 apiece.
Following overwhelming demand, this means 125 individual buyers now own 1% stakes in one or other of these recordings.
Lee Parsons, founder of Bluebox, has clarified to MBW that the recipients of these NFTs contractually own a worldwide exclusive fractional license to these sound recordings, and will continue to own it in perpetuity.
In other words, each buyer should now share in 1% of all digital royalty streams generated by the tracks for good (although they won’t have the right to approve or deny a usage).
Parsons characterizes the Big Zuu and Taylor Bennett NFT sale as a sell-out success, and a harbinger of the huge possibilities for NFTs in the music industry’s future.
“This was the first ever time a fractional copyright music NFT had been sold in this way,” says Parsons. “Within three minutes, all of them had gone. We had over 10,000 users queuing up trying to buy them.”
“Imagine hundreds of thousands of non-music-industry people owning music this way in the future, and receiving their sales reports from Spotify each month.”
He adds: “Lots of NFTs are being sold out there right now but there is still a huge question as to what their true value actually is.
“Big Zuu and Taylor’s Bluebox sale gave non-music-industry people direct ownership of an artist’s rights, including monthly royalties. That is groundbreaking in itself.
“Now imagine hundreds of thousands of non-music-industry people owning music this way in the future, and receiving their sales reports from Spotify each month. It’s a truly exciting prospect. “
Having tested the waters of copyright-related NFT sales with this experiment, Parsons and Ditto are taking things to the next level.
The Bluebox platform, he explains, enables a full back-end accounting and royalty tracking system on the blockchain, allowing royalties to be split, recorded and managed by multiple users at once.
Parsons argues that, having been in development for over three years, Bluebox is the most sophisticated example of such a platform on the market.
And yet Bluebox is now transforming again.
Ditto is this week merging Bluebox into sister company Opulous, a decentralized finance (DeFi) and asset exchange platform.
Opulous has completed a seed investment and private funding round to the tune of $5 million so far, and will enable music rights-holders (including NFT buyers) to secure loans against their past streaming revenues, with the copyrights they own held as collateral.
Combined with Bluebox, Opulous will also enable artists to launch NFT sales – including split copyright sales – to raise funding for their careers via fans and investors.
To illustrate how these two systems could combine, let’s look at the aftermath of the Big Zuu and Taylor Bennett NFT sales.
Once these artists release their affected tracks on streaming services, the monthly royalties generated by them should start, via the Bluebox tech, being paid out in 1% increments to each of the people who purchased NFTs.
Explains Parsons: “Then, as these payments build in each of the recipients’ accounts on Opulous, they will consequently be able to apply for loans based on their NFTs’ history of royalty income. Alternatively, they can leave their NFT on the Opulous platform and ‘stake’ it to earn extra interest.
“This entire process is decentralized, being done peer-to-peer without the need for a bank.“
“This is the perfect meeting place for artists looking for alternative ways to finance their careers, and fans and investors who believe in their potential.”
Investing in music rights via the blockchain, and then further investing the royalty proceeds in a blockchain-based finance system, may be unfamiliar to many industry observers and part-time investors.
Yet Parsons is convinced, with music’s status as a valuable asset class on the rise, such systems will become increasingly commonplace in the years ahead.
“This is the perfect meeting place for artists looking for alternative ways to finance their careers, and fans and investors who believe in their potential,” he says.
The Big Zuu and Taylor Bennett NFTs sold last month are obviously unlikely to make any 1% royalty holders rich.
But Parsons points to the bigger picture: “As the demand for more music assets grows and people get used to [trading] on a blockchain exchange, we’ll start to see people holding large portfolios, even hundreds of music assets, which will pull in meaningful and consistent monthly revenue.”
He adds: “Opulous is now proving this concept. Combined [with the Bluebox tech] it could have a dramatic impact both on artists’ access to finance, and the feeling of investment from the fan community into their favorite acts.”
Music Business Worldwide