In NFTs, I found a new way to monetise my music

Could you paint a picture of what you were up to before participating in crypto?

I was making music. It all started because I was exposed to music at a young age — my dad had a large catalogue and my cousin also used to make music. By the time I got to high school, I was already discovering new music on my own. The natural progression was giving it a try, and that’s what I did.

What did that look like?

At first, it wasn’t professional. In 2013, I found Fruity Loops, a music production software, and learned how to make beats by experimenting with it. I realised how much I enjoyed it so I started sharing the beats I made to Soundcloud and gathering an audience. After that, I started collaborating with artists. Somewhere along the way, I tried singing on my beats, which didn’t sound bad. I made the full switch from being just a producer to a music artist in 2016.

Tell me more.

I took a break from music and put my computer science degree to work. This was an interesting decision because, before my graduation, the plan was to get out and chase music properly. But I got out and realised that the grind would take more than I expected.

Ah, I see. Was it more about finding a sustainable means of income?

It was. I was making music for the love of it but I also wanted to remain an independent artist, which required funding. At university, I made little money from making beats. But it was nothing to fall back on when I got out. With a 9–5, I could expect a salary at the end of each month.

Walk me through the process that led to your return to making music.

To be honest, I just missed making music. So it was like, “let me put out stuff again.” I released a song, and it didn’t do bad. Interestingly, the follow-up to that single — a song I called ‘It’s okay to cry’ — did incredibly well. It made me believe that there was still something there, and I went for it. The deciding factor was that I came to terms that my music, my 9–5 and other things I was interested in could co-exist.

That sounds great. When did crypto come into all of this?

In the early months of 2021. For obvious reasons, I have a lot of artist friends and NFTs must have popped up during one of our conversations, although I’m not sure when. I was fascinated by the whole concept and its use cases for independent creators like me — I could add value and get paid for my work. In addition, I’d be involved in the entire end-to-end process of making this happen. The prospects were exciting.

What were your thoughts about NFTs at the time?

I thought it was something new and fresh. It was also very confusing, but that wasn’t out of place. It was a relatively new technology, after all.

Fair enough. What were your next steps?

In December of 2021, I decided to take the big step and mint ‘Oomph’, an Afrobeat song I made in 2017 or thereabout. Before doing that, I joined a couple of Twitter spaces hosted by creators who were participating in the NFT space — I wanted to know what their experiences were and also wanted to connect with them. After this was done, I was ready to mint the song.

What did that look like?

The first step was deciding what NFT marketplace I wanted to mint on, and I settled on Foundation after getting an invite to the platform from a friend. I opened an account and connected my Metamask wallet to enable Ethereum transactions. Then I uploaded the track to the blockchain. That was it.

Sounds straightforward. What was the cost of doing this?

Gas fees were low when I minted so I paid about 0.02 eth ($88). There’s an additional fee for listing the NFT you upload to the Foundation marketplace, but I don’t remember how much that cost. At the end of it all, my NFT was live. It was now on the blockchain for 0.45 eth ($1991).

And the wait for a buyer began?

Oh, it was actually a quick sale. It sold in about 24 hours.

Oh yeah?

He liked the presentation. I mean, it was more or less the first Afrobeat NFT.

I like how casual you’re about this.

Haha. The process confirmed a theory I had about how storytelling helps to sell NFTs. I figured out that it was about how well I could tell the story of whatever I was putting up on the blockchain. In the context of this NFT, the story was how it’s the first Afrobeat NFT and how whoever bought it would have invested in my career. This is because as I grow as an artist, everything I have done increases in value. That was the messaging behind this NFT. I guess it worked.

It would seem so. How do you think about the relationship between NFTs and your art?

It’s another revenue channel for artists, and the best part is that artists have more ownership of their music here. Also, I don’t have to be tied to a music label contract before making money off my art.

Incredible. When you think about NFTs ten years from now, what do you see?

That’s tough to answer. Nevertheless, I’m optimistic that the rate of adoption will pick up. NFTs are tied to crypto and people are transacting with cryptocurrencies more than ever. This ought to spill over to the NFT sides of things too.

I guess it’s a good thing that you got in early then?

Oh, I agree. I have no doubt about that.

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