The rise of NFTs has changed the landscape of digital art for consumers and artists alike. In the past decade, NFTs have given artists a more tangible way to make money on their own art, and consumers a way to exclusively own pieces of their favorite artist’s portfolio. Muse‘s Matt Bellamy is the newest artist to taking advantage of the crypto digital art scene. The lead singer is auctioning off an exclusive 10 track album – and three of the songs which have never been heard before are being sold as NFTs. It’s an exciting opportunity for diehard fans of Muse and Bellamy’s instantly recognizable clear, crooning pipes. 

Matt Bellamy’s Highly Sought NFTs

Matt Bellamy Muse NFT

British rock band Muse formed in 1994, consisting of lead singer/guitarist Bellamy, bass guitarist Chris Wolstenholme, and Dominic Howard on drums. The band was an instant hit, with deep subjects, heavy melodies, and a unique blend of instruments and effects to craft the sound that has been uniquely associated with the band since its inception. Lead singer Bellamy’s voice was also a standout asset; his range is exceptional, and he has a buttery smooth voice that he can operate masterfully to drive home any emotion he’s drawing from. 

The 27-year-old band has won a wide variety of awards over the years, including two Grammy Awards, two Brit Awards, five MTV Europe Music Awards and eight NME Awards, and earning themselves a place in the ’90’s and early ’00’s rockers’ hearts forever. 

So news that never-before-heard music is on the auction block is tantalizing to fans everywhere. It was announced that Cryptograph, the original luxury and celebrity NFT auction, would be auctioning off three of Bellamy’s NFTs as part of a 10-track limited edition solo release album. The title of the project is Cryosleep, and it goes up for auction today. The three new songs are titled Guiding Light, Tomorrow World and Unintended. Guiding Light was recorded using the same guitar on which Jeff Buckley recorded his classic album, Grace, and includes exclusive art from French artist Liam Pannier. Tomorrow World and Unintended both include exclusive art that comes from Leonardo Senas (“KAMUI“), and Canadian animator Charlotte Risch. The auction begins at midnight EST on July 16th on Cryptograph. Proceeds from the sales will benefit The Passage, a UK-based organization aimed at helping homeless people. 

Music as an NFT

Music is one of the more bizarre mediums to sell as an NFT. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are basically digital versions of a piece of art, gaming material, or other original product; be it a song, painting, or other creative endeavor. A person who buys the NFT holds exclusive ownership over it, making them incredibly intimate and exclusive for buyers and lucrative for artists. Some people buy NFTs for the pure enjoyment of the product; they’re a fan or admirer of the artist. Intrepid entrepreneurs have gotten on the bandwagon of buying NFTs as investments; a speculative process that could pay big if the artist’s notoriety increases. It could also go very very bad if they pay a lot for something and the value tanks or the artist gets “canceled.” 

Splice explains in brief; “The non-fungible token is sort of like the mp3 file plus a tag that says “this file is original, limited edition, and can’t be copied.” In other words, NFTs allow digital items to be treated just like an original Picasso painting or a rare Pokémon card.

Why is this such a big deal? Well it means that people can now invest in songs, videos, and digital artwork in the same way they would invest in physical art. It opens up a whole new marketplace for fans and collectors, and a world of possibilities for artists.

… Above all else, NFTs have the power to change the relationship between artists and their fans. There’s now the option of a direct transaction between the people who make music and the people who listen to it—there’s no label, distributor, streaming platform, or social media platform involved.” 

This creates a special relationship between artist and buyer. While others may listen to the song, only that one fan owns the original; it’s a valuable, unique asset that connects them forever with the artist they’ve patronized. The unique opportunities it presents for both artists and consumers outweighs risks involved. It’s seen as democratizing music – removing the wealthy record executive middlemen and giving the product straight to the people – for a hefty price, of course. So, maybe call it capitalismocratizing music. 

Other Musicians Who Have Sold Music as NFTs

Steve Aoki NFT

Bellamy is not the first musician to sell pieces as NFTs. Between February and March, revenue from NFTs topped $25 million, as the digital industry grows.

MusicBusinessWorldwide shares this list of artists who have sold their creations as NFTs:

  • “At the start of February, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda raised $30,000 via an NFT auction and on February 22, YouTuber and musician PelleK released what they claimed to be the very first NFT music album, which sold out at pre-sale in less than two hours for $160,000.
  • Also last month, Grimes auctioned off almost $6m worth of digital artwork via Nifty Gateway, a popular channel for NFT sales.
  • Between February 25-28, Justin Blau, aka musician and producer 3LAU, sold a NFT collection for $11.6 million via an online auction. His management company, YMU, now says that it is lining up more NFT auctions for other artists on its roster.
  • In the first week of March, DJ superstar Steve Aoki sold an NFT art collection for $4.2m, which included an $888,888 sale to John Legere, the former boss of T-Mobile in the US.
  • Elsewhere, says Rolling Stone, Latin star Ozuna made more than $456,000 from an NFT auction in 15 minutes.
  • Kings Of Leon have this month generated $2m from the sale of their new album When You See Yourself as an NFT, via blockchain platform YellowHeart.
  • And on Wednesday (March 10), ‘global party brand’ Space Yacht announced that its Iconography Collection Volume II NFTs had sold 579 units for a total of $482,000 via Nifty Gateway. Space Yacht co-founder and DJ LondonBrige stated that ‘we’re starting to see NFTs as a new form of story-telling and expression for our brand’.
  • Another artist to collaborate with blockchain company Bondly recently was independent rapper and producer Tory Lanez, who last Thursday (March 4) released three previously unreleased tracks as NFTs via auction. Those tracks, Lady of Neptune, Distance, and Y.D.L.R. generated more than $400,000 in initial gross sales and resales from over 300 fans.
  • Other artists to launch NFT auctions this month [March] include Shawn Mendes, Post Malone and Deadmau5.”

With more artists turning to NFTs to take control of their products, consumers are winning – if the right people buy the products. Although the intent is to take the music out of the hands of rich record execs and put them in the hands of fans, few average Joes are going to be buying these songs for the prices they sell for. So it’s an imperfect solution to a growing problem; artists losing control of their self-determination. Taylor Swift has been a cautionary tale for other new artists starting out after decisions early in her career led her to lose the rights to a lot of her first original songs, a battle which is just now starting to wind down 25 years after she first made it big. NFTs certainly pose less risk for artists than the traditional record-signing relationship and that’s part of the draw, but the entire industry is new enough to warrant some caution. 

Bellamy, however, is ready to take the leap. Whoever holds the winning bid at the auction is certainly glad he made that choice.