Cover Art: Raeeda Rahman
Within most friend groups, social circles, and definitely on the internet there is a connection in knowing a specific popular artist first(earliest) and it is even coined by the phrase ‘putting you on’ or rock bands in the ’80s, the feeling is always “i knew them before they were big”. Unknowingly, there is social capital here amongst your friends and now this intrinsic value is slowly starting to be captured into real capital through NFTs.
NFTs are digital tokens-- similar to trading cards if you will --with complex technology and varying value points (ether, price) wise. NFTs have surged into popularity over the past 5-6 years and have simultaneously harbored status, during the time period when musical artists across America have exposed the negative aspects of centralized control, music labels. As more artists are going independent, it is becoming more distinct that the art of music is truly dictated by the masses of people who indulge it rather than a few curators who sit at executive desks. Based on this there are two powers NFTs add to the music community, firstly artists now have gained access to a strong revenue source (minting NFTs), and secondly, NFT market places emerge where the above-mentioned community value can be captured by everyone.
In music as it is a public goods medium, traditionally you needed a push from larger music labels to become known, however, these aspects of distribution, promotion deals, can all be done independently through technologies, crucially the decentralized public goods funding. Furthermore, to gain traction and revenue from NFTs, creators are now further incentivized to innovate, produce creative works, and in return things that are good and valuable will be backed by the community from an economic viewpoint. Now, music that is good and music that produces value can economically sustain the creators through people's interest in investing in an artist through their NFT.
This technology as mentioned above really ties into the social psychology of people's power in being interested, invested in something. It is super powerful since if enough people care you have yourself a career as a music artist, but now the forgotten community can bear the fruits of this technology as well. Imagine you are a teen from the Bronx, attending rap battles, remixing beats on turntables, hosting house parties, and unknowingly changing music history forever in creating an art form and culture that has created billions of points of value since. In retrospect analyzing the origins of hip hop, there are many creators who have not been given the credit they deserve, from the DJs to the community members who promoted this music to their friends, none of this value has been captured. However, now this powerful aspect of culture can be held through a minted NFT, where timestamps of all valuations are kept and offers of trade are active where if indeed value is created monetary value will be mirrored for the original investors.
Like such culture has always been cultivated from the bottom up and even a decade after NFTs creation there are further channels of communicating this value through mass media, social media, and the sharing of information of a global community. It has just started creating a huge impact in the art(paintings, drawings) community this past year however it continues to grow and be built in the coming years as developers and engineers will prove to assign value to palpable creations. It has already become a large part of the culture and now the final integration of communities and user experience will be tailored to creators and individual influencers (the communities).