‘Head scratching’ NFT boom may help spark music ‘revolution’

Yoshiko Yap

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have exploded in popularity over the last year, with third-quarter sales coming in at a whopping $10.7 billion (up from $1.2 billion in Q2.) 

A multitude of industries — from fashion to music — have taken full advantage of the surge as the unique tokens, which create a money stream for artistic items, continue to expand well beyond digital art and collectibles. 

Musician, author and director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson weighed in on the new trend during an interview with Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday, saying the music industry’s NFT boom was difficult to grasp at first.

“When I first heard of digital art being monetized, sold and becoming big business it was head scratching,” said the Philadelphia native, a decades-long member of hip-hop group The Roots.

“But revolutions usually start with a lot of head scratching in the beginning — then they just become the norm,” he continued. 

He added that he’s almost certain that “ten years from now, the idea of tangible art might be a thing of the past” as more collectors and investors pile in. 

“Like, ‘Wait, you actually paid money to put that thing on your wall? You don’t own an NFT?’ NFTs will probably be the norm by 2040 – 2050,” Thompson stated. 

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON — Episode 0780 — Pictured: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on November 30, 2017 — (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Stats surrounding NFTs in the music space have been mind boggling with some digital items selling for millions of dollars. 

Earlier this year, electronic music producer producer 3LAU sold 33 digital albums for over $11.6 million — becoming the world’s first musician to sell a digital tokenized album. 

Prior to that sale, musician Grimes auctioned off $5.8 million worth of digital art pieces in just under 20 minutes. 

Overall, Questlove said NFTs are “a unique way to have an experience.” 

“As long as the the artist is creative, and the art is deemed worthy, then this is obviously a peek into the future,” he added. 

Streaming as ‘the evolution of life’

London, UK - July 31, 2018: The buttons of the music streaming app Spotify, surrounded by Podcasts, Apple Music, Facebook and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.

London, UK – July 31, 2018: The buttons of the music streaming app Spotify, surrounded by Podcasts, Apple Music, Facebook and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.

Streaming services like Spotify (SPOT) and Apple Music (AAPL) have come under scrutiny due to the way they distribute revenue — which critics say disproportionately impact up and coming artists.

But the platforms also offer new ways for musicians to connect with fans through curated playlists. 

Questlove, who equates creating new playlists to completing the New York Times’ crossword puzzle, said the streaming evolution is similar to the shift toward NFTs. 

“Going from collecting 200,000 records to just living a life of streaming…this is part of the pivot and evolution of life that we’re in now,” he explained. 

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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