Reggae-dancehall recording artiste Bay-C has voiced his praises of the ongoing non-fungible token (NFT) trend, saying that “ it is the future for our music”.
Sales of the blockchain-supported asset, which proves ownership of a piece of digital content, have become popular in the global music industry, with the likes of international recording artistes Akon, Snoop Dogg, Gorillaz, Calvin Harris and Shontelle selling NFTs.
Bay-C is creating history as one of the first reggae and dancehall artiste to venture into the market, and sold the first reggae NFT for 0.1 ETH, which is equivalent to US$220, on Thursday. “It is a whole new world in terms of currency that requires time, understanding and investment. Not everybody can play in this field; meaning, is not like an individual can get up tomorrow and just say he or she is going to do this,” he told The Gleaner.
He said that he has been researching and investing in cryptocurrency for a few years, but was only recently introduced to the blockchain-supported NFTs by an industry professional in Germany. Having gained the confidence, the recording artiste now has his own token, the BayC coin. Added to that, a limited collection of his single Holy Temple is now available for purchase on the Rarible and OpenSea platforms, so fans and collectors can bid on his releases and own a part of history.
Bay-C said it is important for him to “try to be ahead of the curve as a pioneer, a trendsetter or trailblazer … [From] the days of TOK, our sound was innovative; it was always new and fresh and different. To this day, there has never been another TOK. It rivals everything I am doing, from Listen Mi News to Blue Mountain Music Festival and production … this is just following that trend to be as innovative as possible. If you wait too long, something like this will grow past you,” he said.
His label, Bombrush Records, which is fuelling the launch, has partnered with Caricoin in pioneering the space for reggae and dancehall NFTs, which he says will benefit the cultural and economic landscape of Jamaica.
Bay-C said, “NFTs are the biggest thing since streaming. I am doing this not only for myself, as I am now in a unique position to offer the service and support my colleagues may need. My business partner may not understand the local music industry, but they understand the blockchain industry and technology, [so] this is where we will be of help to each other and to allow other reggae and dancehall acts, from artistes to producers, to launch their own.”
This does not necessarily mean that the music created will not be available for other fans to enjoy, whether through streaming or purchasing across platforms.
Most artistes in the music industry receive an average of 12 per cent of the profits from sales or streams of their music, based on a model that pays out a fraction of a penny per stream, he explained. The rest of the money goes to middlemen, corporations and the technology companies who facilitate these services, leaving tours as the only real way to make money. But when COVID-19 hit the world, it halted touring plans, leaving many without any income.
STOCK EXCHANGE FOR MUSIC INDUSTRY
“Along comes NFTs. The idea is – whether the artiste is up-and-coming or established – it creates a system where the artiste can engage consumers of their music directly to invest by buying into their brand,” he said.
Bay-C compared NFTs to a “stock exchange for the music industry” that will bring more parity for artistes. “The music industry has been unbalanced, and the actual creators are not getting the lion’s share of the profit. This serves as a solution to that problem, like a stock exchange for the music industry, so as the artiste grows, the consumers grow in wealth,” he said.
Likening NFTs to digital pieces of art that can be auctioned, the Run From Poverty singer-songwriter explained that the first step is for artistes to start looking at their music more like traditional art. “Not just releasing a song to stay hot and relevant in the space, but producing music that will undeniably stand the test of time,” he said. Creatives worldwide produce NFTs through a process known as minting, which uses the same technology that has driven the bitcoin trade for pennies to over US$60,000 per coin as of this week.
“It can be compared to back in the day when people would purchase a copy of a vinyl record, which becomes a treasure. Once an NFT is minted, it is digitally unique, and it can still be packaged similarly – limited edition vinyl or signed memorabilia – but, most importantly, artistes can own their music again,” Bay-C pointed out.
As NFTs become more popular, early owners of the collectables will not only own the first set, but will most likely see them rise in value, which is Bay-C’s expectations for the BayC coin and Holy Temple. “I will create several versions or a once-in-a-lifetime collection of songs which can be sold. I am currently working on getting a second release out soon,” Bay-C said of his strategy.
As to spreading the word, the entertainer has had conversations with artistes within his immediate circle, but no one is ready to dive headway into it. “I think this is a game changer, and I recommend everyone to do their research as the NFT market is a gradually growing wave in the music industry. I am also motivated by the idea that this will put our country on the map to be on par with global standards,” he said.
Grammy Award-winning reggae group Morgan Heritage will drop three songs as NFTs today. The move is powered by Bondly Finance, and will include a new song and two digitally remastered titles.