- Music NFT marketplace Serenade partnered with Warner Records U.K. to launch a new chart-eligible music format, Digital Pressings.
- Digital Pressings are all-in-one music NFT packages akin to a physical record.
- English rock band Muse released their latest album, Will of the People, under this new format on August 26, 2022.
Why it matters
It turns out, Napster and Limewire were just the beginning. The music industry has undergone seismic shifts in the past 20 years, but it lives on today as a largely digital industry, with streams being the top revenue driver. But for the first time since 2015, a new chart-eligible album format has arrived.
In early August 2022, NFT marketplace Serenade and Warner records U.K. partnered to launch a new, Web3-friendly music format using NFT technology — the Digital Pressing. Each Digital Pressing includes the audio and album artwork, a limited press run in set edition sizes, chart-eligible bonus material, on-chain royalties, and a collector’s module, according to Serenade’s website.
On August 26, English rock band Muse made history by becoming the first artist to offer an album under this new format with the release of Will of the People. It sold out in just 25 minutes. While the album isn’t eligible for the U.S. charts yet, it will have a chance to rank on the U.K. and Australian charts.
This won’t be Muse frontman Matt Bellamy’s first dance with NFTs, though. Earlier this July, Bellamy released three new singles as NFTs, including a track recorded on one of late great rock icon Jeff Buckley’s guitars.
For longtime Muse fans, this move is set to create an interesting parallel with the fellow English music group Radiohead, who famously broke convention when it released the long-awaited 2007 effort In Rainbows via a “pay what you want” digital download.
Speaking on the potential impact of this new music format, Serenade founder Max Shand stated in the official press release that “Digital Pressings will be a game changer on the global stage,” expressing that this new format allows artists to “offer their international audiences something truly unique and engaging.”
Shand spoke further on his vision for the Digital Pressing format in a Twitter thread, highlighting it as a means to further democratize the concept of the album release cycle for musicians across the globe. Digital Pressings can provide musicians opportunities to package their work similarly to how they would via a traditional vinyl release with none of the downsides. Further, because they live on the blockchain, these collectibles offer verifiable ownership and can be traded on secondary markets. Digital Pressings will also “accrue accurate, perpetual royalties for artists, copyright holders, and content owners,” according to the press release.
Aside from touting a two-week lead time (compared to the six to nine months required for a vinyl release) Digital Pressings could also be far more environmentally friendly. According to Serenade’s press release, “one average 12[-inch] vinyl has the equivalent carbon footprint of 197,100 Digital Pressings.” Looking at it another way, the press release shares “the low carbon footprint equivalent to 1/10th of a Tweet (44,000x more efficient than a standard NFT release).”
Each Digital Pressing of Will of the People — and all subsequent albums released under this format — will count toward one physical album sale on the charts. For this pilot launch, sales data will register on music charts in the U.K. and Australian music markets.
But wait! There’s more
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