The following MBW op/ed comes from Australian tech entrepreneur Max Shand, founder of music tech company Serenade.
It was already difficult to get your vinyl pressed before Adele came along and block booked every manufacturing plant in the world so she could produce 500,000 physical copies of her new album.
Adele is among the biggest artists around and this is one of the most anticipated releases of the year, so of course Sony were going to flex their considerable commercial muscles to ensure its supply met the inevitable demand from her fans.
That’s capitalism, I guess.
It doesn’t help that the vast majority of artists don’t have that kind of buying power to get their vinyl releases made. The lack of factories and raw materials means there are waiting lists of up to a year in some cases, which in turn has resulted in hugely frustrating log jams in what should be a high growth market.
We know what the issues are and that they’re not being solved any time soon, so what can artists caught up in this situation do to satisfy their fans, maximise D2C revenues and drive chart ratings?
For starters, they can begin to see NFTs for what they really are – a neat companion product to physical merchandise that allows fans to brag about their favourite artists online.
There’s been a lot of talk about NFTs. All the noise has been about headline-catching money and peculiar creative output. An image of a rock selling for greater than $1m? You get it.
But don’t get distracted, NFTs are much more than that. NFTs offer an elegant solution to artists trying to circumvent supply chain issues to produce merchandise at little to no cost, helping music fans build record collections in a new digital-native format.
If we look past the misleading headlines and begin to understand that NFTs are just smart merchandise, creator friendly and tradeable, we might be less intimidated by them and embrace their very real possibilities.
As much as we like to think vinyl is purchased for its superior audio quality, we know this isn’t always the case. Friends of mine in their mid-20s are spending hundreds of dollars on records only to play them on their $80 Crosley turntable or frankly, not at all. We’d be fooling ourselves into thinking that the vast majority of Olivia Rodrigo’s 80,000 new vinyl owners are sipping wine to the sound of their new find on a pair of Technics SL 1200s.
“Vinyl is merchandise purchased to display a fan’s musical taste to anyone who walks into their lounge room or bedroom. It makes a statement about them, who they are, and what they love.”
Vinyl is merchandise purchased to display a fan’s musical taste to anyone who walks into their lounge room or bedroom. It makes a statement about them, who they are, and what they love.
I love vinyl and have been collecting since I was 12, but my collection is limited by the fact that I must be in Sydney, Australia, to enjoy it, and I’ll only get the chance to play it with friends on a Saturday night when I can sneak in a quick Cabaret Voltaire, Happy Mondays or Severed Heads spin before the calls for Dua Lipa kick in.
Digital record collections made possible by NFTs allow fans to display their taste and identity where they increasingly are, and that’s online. People of all ages spend considerably more time on social media and in games than they do in real social worlds each day.
At our company Serenade, we offer simple and environmentally friendly ways to produce NFTs and have built a platform that sees fans derive real value from displaying them. From idea to execution, it’s now possible to roll out a highly engaging NFT campaign in just a few weeks, and at no cost other than a commission on sales.
Soon – and we’re talking months here – music fans will have a ‘link in bio’ that takes their audience to their NFT gallery where all their collectibles will sit for the world to see.
Unlike transactional merchandise sales, NFTs invite fans into a reciprocal relationship with their favourite artists. When a fan becomes the owner of an NFT, they are buying a rare and limited part of that artist’s catalogue, and if they ever choose to sell the NFT to turn a profit, they are supporting the artist with a considerable 15% royalty. It’s empowering on both ends.
Imagine if all Discogs sales adhered to this same principle – how transformative would that be?
Vinyl is magical, my collection will forever be my pride and joy, but it has many parallels with the NFT experience and the two can complement each other.
It’s really easy to get involved – and there’s no need to wait for Adele to stop churning out vinyl copies of ’30.’Music Business Worldwide