Just a few weeks ago Kings of Leon released their new album, titled When you See Yourself in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) — being the first band to ever do so.
As part of a series called “NFT Yourself,” the band has issued three different types of tokens. A special album package is one type, while a second type offers live show perks such as lifetime front-row seats and a third type is solely for exclusive audiovisual art.
The smart contracts and intelligence within the tokens were developed by YellowHeart, a company that wants to use blockchain technology to bring value back to music and improve direct-to-fan relationships.
All three types of tokens feature art created by the band’s longtime creative partner Night After Night; the smart contracts and intelligence within the tokens were developed by YellowHeart, a company that wants to use blockchain technology to bring value back to music and better direct-to-fan relationships.
What are NFT’s?
A quick rundown: NFTs are a type of cryptocurrency that can store assets such as art, tickets, and music instead of money. NFTs use a blockchain, which is a publicly accessible and transparent network that allows anyone to see the details of any NFT transaction. Because of its nature, the computers involved in the transactions become part of the network, which keeps upgrading and cannot be hacked. In the case of NFTs, their value becomes subjective and fluctuates as a result, similar to stock prices.
NFTs had a small but devoted following of DJs and producers in the past. However, as many musicians sought additional revenue streams during the pandemic’s concert-less period, these digital tokens have become mainstream in the last year. Portugal, for example. In recent weeks, The Man, Shawn Mendes, Grimes, and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda have all joined the cause.
NFT’s within the Music Industry
YellowHeart sparked industry interest shortly after its inception in 2018, but founder and CEO Josh Katz says that’s only one factor. Both the Kings of Leon and Portugal were in this situation. Through YellowHeart, The Man, Katz provides consultancy services to educate artists about blockchain and help them develop their NFTs.
The album by Kings of Leon will be available wherever albums are sold, including Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, and Amazon, but the NFT version available via YellowHeart will be the only one with special benefits. The token, which costs $50, comes with improved media, such as a moving album cover, as well as a digital download of the music and limited-edition vinyl. The album NFTs goes on sale this Friday at 12 p.m. E.T. and will be available for two weeks. After that period, no more NFTs will be produced, and the NFT will become a collectible item.
“We’ve seen the devaluation of music over the last 20 years — two lost decades,” says Katz “Everything except music has become a great seller thanks to music. There’s been a race to the bottom where you can get all of it for as little money as possible. Previously, getting one song cost $20.” He thinks that the subscription-based pro-rata model of streaming is irreparably harming artists and that NFTs will entice contemporary fans to want to own music once more: “It’s still early, but I believe this will be how people release their music in the future: They just made $100,000 when they sold 100,000 at a dollar each.”
As part of the Kings of Leon NFT release, YellowHeart is producing 18 unique-looking “golden tickets.” Six of the 18 will be auctioned, with the remaining 12 being vaulted, as a painter would with a rare piece from a series of art. “Each one is a one-of-a-kind NFT with some of the most incredible Kings of Leon artwork you’ve ever seen,” Katz explains.
Each “golden ticket” also unlocks a physical concert ticket, marking the first time an NFT has been sold for a music event. For the rest of their lives, whoever owns the token will be guaranteed four front-row seats to any Kings of Leon concert during each tour. A personal driver, a concierge at the show to take care of their needs, a hangout with the band before the show, and exclusive lounge access are all included in the token owner’s VIP experience. The fan’s car will be filled with four bags containing every item from the merch booth when they leave the show.
This is a “extreme example to prove a point,” according to Katz. YellowHeart wants to demonstrate how smart contracts can give users a lot of control over their tickets. In the future, he claims that the same technology can be applied to general tickets, which could be a giant step forward in the secondary market. When an NFT is resold, a portion of the proceeds could go to the artist — or whoever else is named in the contract, such as a charity. (YellowHeart can also set a maximum price at which the NFT can be resold, effectively eliminating scalpers.)
There are six more unique-looking tokens in Kings of Leon’s final choice, which are standard NFTs with intricate audiovisual art. Fans will be able to see them on YellowHeart’s website starting on Thursday. The cost varies between $95 and $2,500. YellowHeart will mint as many as are sold before Sunday at 8 p.m. E.T., which is also the end of the NFT auction for the “golden ticket.” (However, if a bid is placed in the final ten minutes of the auction, it is reset for another ten minutes.)
All of these NFTs are expected to appreciate in value over time. Future reselling proceeds will go where the artists want them to go, thanks to those aforementioned smart contracts. All proceeds from two of the offerings — the $50 album NFTs and the highest-priced “golden ticket,” dubbed Bandit Wave #2 — will go to Live Nation’s Crew Nation fund for unemployed touring professionals.
NFTs, according to Katz, allow for maximum creativity in terms of content release, which he thinks is a big draw in an age when artists are going more DIY. YellowHeart will, according to him, become an entertainment wallet that will store fans’ songs, tickets, and collectible content.
As the music industry embraces cryptocurrency, Kings of Leon’s project is by far the most comprehensive foray into NFTs to date. Kings of Leon’s team wrote in a press release that they wanted to “deconstruct, degenerate, and distort iconic band symbols and photographs” with it. “The end result is a breathtaking reimagining of this legendary band’s discography. Every source photograph was taken by either [Kings of Leon creative director and Night After Night CCO] Casey McGrath or band member Matthew Followill, with no outside material used.”
McGrath says in the press release, “We approached the release of When You See Yourself in such an analog way, from the band’s approach in the studio to shooting everything on film, and went as far as actually taking out the scotch tape and glue sticks, and dry transfer lettering.” “Approaching ‘NFT YOURSELF’ with a digital art mindset infused the work with life. The techniques of audio-generated imaging, pose detection, and pixel morphing that we used to make this collectible art will be appreciated by those in the space who understand. We hope those who don’t understand the undeniable power and emotion that results from the collision of analog and digital will appreciate it.”