Riva Taylor is a British singer songwriter that we have featured previously at Essentially Pop and she has been an artist that has been using the emergence of NFT’s as a way for fans to access her art. It’s an area of music and art consumption that can be confusing and, like anything new, a little daunting. With Riva on the verge of announcing her new drops of NFTs, it felt like the perfect time to chat with her again. This time, instead of talking about her brilliant music, we chatted about this exciting new chapter in art consumption. I hope that our chat throws a little light on the subject. Riva is an artist who is keen to help us understand and gives a lot of good, straight forward advice and help on how to access this market.
EP: As an artist you have been quick to see how beneficial NFTs can be but whenever I speak to anyone I know at music events they have a limited knowledge. For me, there’s a danger of NFTs becoming the Emperor’s New Clothes with people almost being afraid, or embarrassed, to admit they don’t understand it. So Riva, it would be beneficial if someone as articulate as you could explain them in simple terms.
RT: Of course. And before I begin I should mention that this is such a fast paced and changing space that is constantly updating, therefore I can’t claim to know it all, but I’ve certainly been educating myself however I can this past year and a half and have been lucky enough to be involved in some exciting panels, metaverse exhibitions and meet a host of interesting minds and pioneers who are busy carving out this future.
If I can give any early advice, it’s read up as much as you can! If listening is more your thing, there are some great podcasts and personalities bringing this world to life such as Gary Vee. If you’re not on Twitter, do join – that’s where a lot of the latest updates are being shared as well as some great Twitter spaces (a little like Twitter’s take on Clubhouse).
So…in a nutshell…. An NFT is a unique data asset stored on a digital ledger, known as a blockchain, that is not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as photos, videos, audio, amongst many other things.
EP: I think after hours of reading about them, I still feel confused. What’s the difference between fungible and non-fungible?
RT: Fungible tokens or assets are divisible and non-unique. For instance, flat currencies like the pound are fungible: A £5 note has the same value, wherever you are. Non fungible assets are unique and non-divisible. They could be considered as a type of deed or title of ownership of a unique, non-replicable item. For example, a flight ticket is non fungible because there cannot be another of the same kind due to its specific data.
EP: So with NFTs being digital, there seems to be a lot of excitement about buying digital art. I saw Katie Cassidy, an actor in the States, use it to sell photography, and I guess you want to use it to forward and help music. I guess NFTs will allow me to support artists I like but does it give me usage rights to music or art at all?
RT: I love that NFTs are enabling people to explore another side of themselves and their other talents, like Katie has done. The pandemic has been tough on many and this has opened up a brand new revenue potential and means to scratch a creative itch. One of the key issues is the often widespread confusion surrounding the rights that buyers acquire when they purchase an NFT is that they think they acquire the underlying work of art, and all its accompanying rights. However, in reality, they are simply buying the metadata associated with the work; not the work itself. It is key that when you look to purchase an NFT, you read the smart contract associated with the NFT. These are unique to the token and will outline the rights and what offerings each NFT holds.
EP: Are NFTs something I can use as an investment if I feel the artist is going to be the next Adele?
RT: Absolutely. Many people are seeing it this way. Again, terms will all be outlined in the smart contract and roadmap (a form of business plan) in respect of what requirements or incentives there are attached for the purchaser of the NFT. If the project or creative hasn’t put detail in the smart contract, I’d be cautious about supporting until they can be transparent as to what their plans and intentions are. I often use Adele as an example of the exciting potential NFTs have when it comes to an artist’s career, if played correctly.…can you Imagine if she’d NFT’d elements of her career at the start? You only need to look at her limited edition vinyl etc. to imagine what holders of her NFTs could be selling them for if they wanted to and as well as feeling like they are a part of helping an artist’s talents be realised, and at such a scale. If you’re interested in supporting artists through NFTs do check out: Royale, Sound.xyz, John Legend’s new offering, ‘Our Song’ to name a few. There will no doubt be more emerging in the not too distant future.
EP: How do I buy NFTs? Can I buy them with my debit card?
RT: Some platforms are now experimenting with debit cards. For now, the most widespread way is via a wallet like ‘Metamask’. You load crypto into it and purchase that way. Mastercard have joined forces with ‘Coinbase’ (a secure online platform for buying, selling, transferring, and storing cryptocurrency) which has shown how things are changing. Following a platform such as NFT NOW at https://nftnow.com/ can help you keep up to date with breaking news. I’m currently giving the first people to be part of my NFT project a free NFT. Perhaps it will be their first NFT! They will get all sorts of exclusive access with these, as well as first dibs on my official NFT series when it launches. I’m hoping this gets my audience, at the least, used to an alternative method of purchasing my music and tokens.
EP: So once I have got myself a crypto currency wallet, how secure is this?
RT: We must always be cautious and well researched when it comes to any digital transaction in my view, whether taking place in Web2 (the version of the internet most of us know today) or Web3 (the name some technologists have given to the idea of a new kind of internet service that is built using decentralized blockchains). All legitimate platforms will have information on safety and it is a hot topic of conversation, with the space being both so new and decentralised, to eliminate risk of fraud. All the platforms and notable wallet options come with information relating to this and how you can protect what is in your wallet such as changing your password regularly, setting up a hardware wallet if you’re dealing with large sums etc.
EP: If I buy NFTs, where do I store them?
RT: You purchase your NFTS using your wallet and these are visible on the respective NFT platforms such as OpenSea (the largest NFT marketplace) or Rarible ( a community owned NFT space that lets you easily create, collect NFTs) . Your NFTs will be visible on the blockchain from which you buy them. To use the Ethereum blockchain as an example, this can be viewed as the ‘gallery’ where your artwork or token is hanging. OpenSea is one window looking into the gallery, Rarible is another. You can sell the item from either window and it will go to the first buyer who meets your terms, but once it’s sold through one window, it’s gone and you can’t sell it again through the other
EP: As someone who is at the forefront of this new way of consuming art, how will this benefit a musician like yourself?
RT: There are many ways this can work for musicians. Independent artists who own their masters can carve out their own deals with their fans when it comes to ownership, and work peer to peer with their audience in a way never seen before. More established artists have also shown huge interest in this movement. Artists at any point of their career have material, art, songs that have value but don’t get released, or could be packaged up differently in a digital format. It’s a huge waste in my view! We recently saw a demo track that Whitney Houston had recorded when she was 17, and never released, be sold for over $1million. This token was paired with art created by a 17-year-old, unknown artist who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Whitney. While of course Whitney did not directly benefit from this sale it shows the potential and power of collaborations when it comes to NFTs. This is an opportunity for artists and musicians to think creatively, and expansively, beyond the usual means of releasing, presenting and subsequently monetising their work. There are also many refreshing examples of artists giving back a percentage of the NFT sale to a charitable initiative. The opportunities are endless.
EP: Will it help to support new artists coming through by giving fans a way of offering support to the artists they enjoy?
RT: That’s exactly what it will do. Peer to peer. It means that a fan can support an artist from the start of their career and be vested in the outcome. I can see that this model will really work for artists who have felt unsupported by big corporate machines and label deals previously. It allows them to retain their creative freedoms, rights and control timelines for release…with the input of their fans too if they so wish.
EP: I interviewed Tyler Spencer, the lead singer and founder of Electric 6, and he bemoaned the fact that they didn’t use NFTs and such and that he feels that going forward, this could affect the way his music is consumed. Do you think this is the future of music?
RT: I certainly think times are changing. The shift from physical to digital collectibles in my view was always a matter of when, not if. Perhaps the pandemic has accelerated this and people’s involvement with crypto and digital collectibles has been widely embraced. I’d encourage any music artist to explore their options and/or discuss with their team or lawyer.
EP: If someone wants to support you using NFTs, how would they do that? Is there a place someone could go to browse NFTs for example?
RT: Yes! Head over to www.88-keys.xyz if you’d like to secure one of my ‘major key’ access tokens. This basically means you’re in the fold and will give you and a limited number of other holders unique experiences as well as first dibs on my NFT series when it lands in the not too distant future. I’m really excited by what this series represents as it’s a cross-section of my love of art and music. If you’re on discord you can find me there too. Twitter and Instagram have all my link-through and I’ll be announcing my next drop of NFTs, which you can purchase, very soon! All my previous NFTs have sold but you can always bid for them on the secondary market! It will then be up to the current owner to decide if they’d like to sell…
EP: Finally, Riva, can we expect new music and live performance from you now, as the return to normality continues? I feel we have missed out on the opportunity to see you tour your brilliant last album.
RT: Absolutely! I’m going to be holding a small concert at Middle 8 in London on May 4th! I’m going to be finally showcasing my album in a very intimate setting, as well as some new tunes.
Tickets are available here and I’ll be announcing more soon.