In this installment we will focus primarily on trends in NFTs related to music and gaming. Of course, the potential applications are still being explored. Do NFTs allow musicians more creative control and a closer connection to fans? Or are they just another distraction from the creative process? Will NFTs and the play to earn model make people wealthy? Or is it simply another way for large companies to add surcharges? While we can’t know the future, we can look at what current trends look like.
What are music NFTs and why would you buy music you can already listen to? The answers to these questions are as diverse as the musician and the audience. When you purchase one of these NFTs you actually own it versus iTunes where you merely rent the right to listen. NFTs provide a way for fans to support an artist early in their career. If the artist’s popularity rises, the value of the NFT might go up as well. The NFTs also provide a direct link from the artist to their most dedicated fans. Tickets, bonus NFTs, special promotions can all be airdropped to fans directly and, on Cardano at least, at a relatively low cost. The earliest supporters can get the most rewards based on which NFTs they hold and so on. Here are a few of the different use cases for NFTs.
Music NFT Marketplaces
OpenSea has a section that is dedicated to music. The selections range from Johnathan Mann’s A Song A Day compositions (yes, he has created a song a day for the last 4700 days) to Doomsdayx NFTs which promise the rights to a governance DAO, exclusive content and even associate producer credit. Of course this is Ethereum so I find it hard to comprehend how the average person could afford to regularly buy music NFTs here due to the gas fees. Perhaps a solution will come along.
In the meanwhile there are other marketplaces, like Catalog, which is the one stop shop for music only NFTs. However a quick look at the prices will show you that it isn’t for the average listener:
Is there a music NFT marketplace for the regular person who can’t afford to drop thousands on an NFT? Glad you asked. There is one being built right here on Cardano- projectNEWM intends to be the premiere music marketplace in the Cardano ecosystem. They are well into developing an easily accessible and affordable digital music store that will increase revenue for creators and allow more interaction and rights to fans.
Music as Revenue?
Most musical NFTs do not offer any royalties, but there are exceptions. Royal allows creators to mint royalty bearing NFTs. In this way both the artist and the owner can profit from the NFT
While the future of NFTs in music looks bright, NFT success in gaming has been a bit murkier. We almost have to split gaming NFTs into two groups. The first group is games that are built around NFTs. The easiest, most well-known example is Axie Infinity. Over 2 million users head out each day to battle and collect Axies. In return they can earn SLP tokens which can be traded for crypto. Entry into the game is not cheap, however. To be a serious player you need at least three Axies, the cost of which runs into hundreds or thousands USD. In fact, a system of sponsorship has evolved where a manager (owner of the NFTs) loans them to a scholar (skilled gamer) and the two split the winnings. Over all these games have been well received and are quite popular.
On the other side of the gaming spectrum, however, NFTs have not been as well received. When Ubisoft (the maker of Assasins Creed, Far Cry & Tom Clancy’s video series) announced its new NFT venture, called Quartz, the feedback from gamers was less positive. To counter some of their concerns, specific requirements have been rolled out to make the NFTs only available to players as opposed to speculators:
Are NFT gaming assets going to have a significant impact on the big gaming studios any time soon? Probably not, as they already have established markets and mechanisms for their upgrades. While there is interest in developing things like compatible gaming pfps that could move from one game to another, a huge explosion of them is unlikely in 2022. Most of the gaming NFT innovations are going to come from start up games and small franchises in the short term anyway.
What does Cardano have from a gaming perspective? There are a lot of things (and I do mean a lot) in development. In the last iteration of Catalyst there are 85 gaming submissions alone. From card games to learning games, Flooftopia to Horrocubes, the diversity and creativity is astounding. If you have a chance, just scroll through the category. Its pretty interesting stuff. It shouldn’t surprise us that most of these games are still in development. A good game takes years to build and Cardano itself is still in its infancy. Here are some interesting prototypes underway:
True Crime Crypto is releasing an NFTand a game that is ready to play in just a couple of weeks. You will be able to earn $CRIME token by winning the game. Video here:
Drunken Dragon Games is in development:
ADA Quest also in development (I love the quest music here. So much fun!):
I couldn’t leave this category without mentioning Gaming Cardano – a unique stakepool that is dedicated to gamers and all things gaming Cardano. If you are interested in gaming and Cardano, you will find your people in their discord. There is always something going on in there – gaming tournaments, discussions about new products, metaverses in development. Its a pretty interesting place to be.
What can we take from comparing the success and acceptance of NFTs in music versus the hesitancy in the gaming community? Perhaps NFTs do best in unique spaces. They seem an awkward fit for hardcore gamers and established gaming studios who like things the way they are. Make no mistake, just like cryptocurrency, NFTs are disruptive. They open up new ways of doing things and new revenue streams. By definition they are a threat to the establishment. So some feathers will get ruffled. At the same time they will provide a huge opportunity for independent games, along with musicians and fans. We are only just beginning the journey.
How do we wrap this up? Well, we don’t because in the time it took me to create a three part series, new things have happened in the world of NFTs and their applications. We will just have to stay tuned for the next exciting chapter. We do know that cryptocurrency and NFTs offer significant untapped potential where we are only limited by our creativity.