Always ahead of her time, Grimes announced this morning that she’d be releasing a set of Non-Fungible Token’s (or NFT’\s) on Sunday afternoon. The now-released collection of art is both futuristic and bizarre, but doesn’t venture far from what Grimes has released in the past. What does set this collection apart from previous launches, however, is in what they are in the first place. NFTs have taken the internet by storm in recent weeks and show no sign of slowing down in popularity in the future because they have the potential to change the art and music worlds forever.
Non-Fungible Tokens are pieces of digital content that can’t be replicated or transferred because they’re attached to a token on the blockchain. The blockchain, a digital and decentralized ledger, acts as a sort of set-in-stone list of who bought what. Most people associate the blockchain with cryptocurrency exchanges as it also acts as a sort of wallet denoting who owns what, but it can also be used to exchange NFTs between artists and buyers. In this sense, the blockchain permanently ties a buyer to the artist, forever, therefore cementing the buyer’s piece of art as having value.
NFTs are things like digital art or music that creators can release a limited amount of to be purchased on the blockchain. Once someone purchases the piece of crypto art they have it forever—and any replicas (like screenshots) of the art can’t be traded for even remotely the same value.
This Twitter thread explains the concept in a way that equates an NFT to a piece of original art, and a screenshot to a cheap replica. Replicas of the art can be traded and spread, but the owner of the original maintains the most valuable part of that asset. Think about it as if you could own the future Mona Lisa, and anyone else that circulates an image of your piece of art is merely circulating a replica. In a more digital sense, it would be like if you could find the exact creator of a meme and place value on the original meme. Replicas of that meme, or re-creations, would be able to circulate but would hold no value.
NFT collectors—which includes anyone from Mark Cuban to your friends from college—have been scooping up as much digital art as they can in recent months as conversations about the topic have taken off on social media apps like Clubhouse. For artists though, the potential that NFT’s have could answer a lot of the issues that artists face in the digital age. Particularly around ownership, distribution and copyright.
NFTs offer a way for creatives to monetize and own their work like never before. The art industry, particularly in the age of the internet, is rife with copyright and distribution issues that both prevent artists from being able to fully own their work, and go after unlawful distributors of that work as well.
Grimes’ first NFTs are available for auction right now via Nifty Gateway and will be up for the next 48 hours. All ten pieces of art are exclusive, and some come with never before heard music as well. You can check them out, or place a bid, right here. Only one piece is left and the current bid sits at around $150,000, but Grimes hinted that there could be more coming since this drop is titled “War Nymph Volume 1.”