- NFTs present a viable alternative to the ill-fated XRP powered music marketplace, xSongs.
- Music NFT minting and trading will occur on federated side chains and plug into the XRP Ledger using hooks.
- Ripple’s NFT vision underlines the necessity of functional and integrated NFT viewing and custody. Artwork would be playable and viewable within wallets from products and services that exist on federated sidechains.
- ETH-powered NFT marketplaces could be replaced by the more nimble and cost effect XRP Ledger alternatives.
I was fairly young when Napster first hit the internet. One of my good friends thought he had stumbled upon some forbidden secret, and for the longest time, he wouldn’t tell anyone where he managed to find so many quality digital songs. For those too young to remember the regulatory gnashing that followed, it quite resembles what the Crypto markets are going through now. The incumbents killed Napster. They gave it a funeral and the kind of eulogy you’d expect to see a fervent capitalist deliver at Joseph Stalin’s wake. Then with much pomp and ceremony, they clanked their champagne glasses together and declared that file-sharing was dead. You can imagine their surprise when the coffin burst open and the corpse of decentralization sat up.
Now it seems like the music industry is going through another revolution with famous singers, songwriters, and bands minting NFTs as albums, collectibles, and even tickets to upcoming concerts — completely bypassing the middleman that have exploited them for so long. Michael del Castillo likened this explosive new use case to the music industry’s second Napster event. “Done right, NFTs offer the ease and ubiquity of internet distribution (think Napster), but with digital rights protection built in (think iTunes).” In the near future, we could see XRP Ledger powered NFTs dominate this growing market.
The XRP Ledger has a history of attempts at music marketplaces with Craig Dewitt’s ill-fated xSongs, which was a music marketplace that let creators sell songs directly to consumers for XRP. xSongs featured a revenue model that let artists keep one hundred percent of sales, but the idea never took off. The website seems dead, and it’s likely the project was shelved for other more promising alternatives, like NFTs.
If you read the tea leaves, you can see the direction Ripple is heading with upcoming amendments to the XRP Ledger, like functional NFTs, hooks, and federated side chains. With sidechains operating in parallel to the main ledger, a musician can mint an album or collectible as an NFT and sell it directly to consumers without a record label or a financial intermediary like PayPal. The payments would be facilitated through the XRP ledger, and the NFT minting could take place on any number of NFT front ends or sidechains that plug into the XRP Ledger using hooks. We may even see the rebirth of xSongs as an NFT marketplace that lets artists mint NFTs on the XRP Ledger for a fraction of what the Etherum network costs — an idea much more compelling than a simple music marketplace.
“NFTs shouldn’t be cluttering up the main chain; they should live on federated side chains, so they don’t bloat the XRP Ledger.”– David Schwartz
xSongs never really made a ton of sense. It merged the relatively small XRP community with the even smaller portion of consumers that still buy individual songs. With the prevalence of streaming platforms like Spotify, which let consumers stream music for free, marrying these two niche market segments wasn’t likely to cause fireworks. The lack of interest with xSongs coupled with the explosion of a popular alternative monetization method is likely why the project was quietly shelved. NFTs — music industry NFTs in particular — are experiencing explosive growth.
“The model that I’m working on is meant to be a reverse record deal,” says Blau, who is 30 and has worked with acts like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Ariana Grande. Instead of what he called the “predatory” 80% that most labels take, he plans to fund production costs by selling directly to fans. His team is now in conversations with Billie Eilish, Madonna and Metallica and preparing for what he hopes will be the first blockchain music auction to be hosted at Christie’s, the London auction house.”– Forbes
Most of the decentralized music startups I’ve seen are using the Ethereum (ETH) network. ETH non-fungible token minting is characterized by high fees, both for creating the tokens and transferring them. This growing use case is ripe for the taking by a cheaper and more efficient distributed ledger.
What many of these NFT minting services lack is an appealing front end. Del Calstilo states that early NFT investors received mp4 versions of songs in addition to the NFT tokens they had purchased. So, the tokens are unique, but the songs, like their earlier Napster delivered cousins, can be freely transmitted and copied on the internet. What’s missing is a service that gives consumers rights associated with these NFTs — something specifically mentioned by David Schwartz during a discussion hosted on the official Ripple YouTube channel. Schwartz describes the necessity of a usable front end to blockchain-based NFT minting and marketplaces. He specifically mentions the transferability of music rights with NFTs, which would allow consumers to take their collection from service to service so long as they maintain custody of the private keys.
With most NFT minting, there’s a disconnect between the artwork and the NFT, where the art exists disconnected from the actual token — either stored on a cloud server or given to a user as a file. The real potential lies with services that fuse the viewing of the artwork with the NFTs and some extended form of digital rights. It’s unlikely that an NFT music marketplace will ever compete with streaming music services like Spotify and iTunes, but that doesn’t mean collectibles cannot be a lucrative use case, especially considering the amount of money fans have been shelling out on the primitive NFT iterations that we have now.
The key element here is user experience — it has to be flawless. And I don’t think people care what technology is under the hood. People that use NBA top shots just want to own the shots.–David Schwartz
For NFT minting, convenience is everything. And currently, the exorbitant costs associated with Ethereum based non-fungible token minting represent a massive barrier of entry to widespread NFT adoption. A more efficient ledger like the XRP Ledger would make NFT minting far more accessible than it is now, taking an industry that is more of a fringe hobby and launching it into the mainstream public consciousness.
In a recent blog post, Ripple outlined the explosive growth of cryptocurrency and tokenization across a vast spectrum of use cases. One of the examples they highlight is the minting of NFTs by “world famous DJs.” Later on in the post, they describe Ripple-enabled wallets that can custody anything that is tokenized:
“In the future, every customer will join RippleNet with the same base service and a wallet designed to support both crypto and fiat. By adopting the wallet, customers are now ready to take advantage of the latest blockchain-enabled solutions that keep them at the cutting-edge – the platform is designed to seamlessly upgrade and add new services as customers want them. In the future, customers can use their Ripple-enabled wallet to custody XRP, BTC, stablecoins, and anything that’s tokenized.”
If we let our imagination run wild, we could soon see a wallet that holds any form of tokenized fiat in parallel with a wide variety of NFTs, artwork being viewable within the very wallet that holds custody. Federated sidechains and hooks would allow these marketplaces and private CBDC tokens to plug directly into the XRP Ledger. Music marketplaces and streaming services would plug into the XRP Ledger and grant the NFT holder access to services based on the media they hold within their XRP powered wallet. Federated sidechains, hooks, and NFTs could allow XRP holders to access a wide variety of services in an increasingly tokenized world.