It seems the NFT craze is starting to rear its ugly head.
Electronic music producer Lane 8 recently took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the current climate of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, writing that sales of the digital collectibles are "pandering to the ultra rich while excluding the normal fans who built [him] up in the first place."
Hours after Lane 8 published the tweet, Dillon Francis took a screenshot of it and went on to mint the image as an NFT on the Zora marketplace, dubbing the item "cool story bro." "[D]on't worry Lane 8 when you make an NFT we will all remember this," he wrote in the description, along with a smiley face.
Francis then shared his newly minted NFT on Twitter, announcing that he would be donating the proceeds from its sale to MusiCares, a non-profit organization that provides aid to musicians in times of financial, personal, or medical crisis.
After Lane 8 caught wind of Francis' tongue-in-cheek jab, he fired back with another tweet, calling out the "irony" of the move. "[T]he irony of you selling something with my name and image, without my permission, on a platform that claims to empower artists to own their art, is hilariously emblematic of how poorly thought out this whole 'movement' is," Lane 8 wrote. "[G]lad you’re donating the $ though, way to go."
It wasn't long before other electronic music artists took notice. Some of them even placed bids on Francis' NFT, such as Disclosure and RAC, the latter of whom used his own $RAC cryptocurrency.
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Lane 8 eventually found himself in the crosshairs of NFT advocates—let's call them NFT Twitter—including a number of his dance music contemporaries. NFTs, unique digital collectibles that are exclusive to their owner and unable to be replicated, have been a major boon for music producers in the COVID-19 era. While many elite artists are now throwing their hats into the ring, the crux of the NFT mania lies in the fact that it enables artists to recoup revenues lost from touring due to the impact of the virus. That notion seems to have eluded Lane 8, evidenced by the deluge of replies to his original tweet. However, he seems to be taking them in stride with the hopes of starting a dialogue.
One such reply came from superstar trio RÜFÜS DU SOL, who noted that the worlds of music and NFTs "aren’t mutually exclusive." "You can release music whatever the ‘normal’ way is, and still explore tokenising certain pieces of your art while making those pieces of art widely available to ALL," they wrote. "It’s the tolken [sic], not the art that is owned by the buyer."
"What you just outlined seems like a much more equitable approach," Lane 8 responded, adding that he believes that artists should own their art and be free to do whatever they want with it. "Nothing against those who are doing this nft thing; that said it’s not for me."
Another came from Autograf, who wrote that NFTs are a way to verify unequivocal ownership of an item that a fan truly covets. "[Y]ou can think of it more as authenticating ownership in something you believe in while everyone else can still enjoy the content," the duo wrote. "You can also have unlockable perks like we have a private live stream and meet and greet included."
You can find Francis' NFT depicting Lane 8's tweet on Zora here. To read more about non-fungible tokens and why EDM artists are embracing digital art in 2021, read our interview with the founders of Nifty Gateway, one of the world's leading NFT platforms.