What Is Crypto Music?

On Jan. 7, 2021, U.S. indie rock band, Kings of Leon, released their newest album, “When You See Yourself” to generally lackluster reviews. Despite failing to impress critics, the Tennessee brothers’ album was groundbreaking in other aspects. Indeed, it was the first album from a major recording artist to be released as a non-fungible token, or NFT, an emerging digital collectible technology revolutionizing the art and music industry. Congruously, it is the first truly mainstream example of what many in the industry are referring to as “crypto music.”

The defining characteristic of crypto music is the use of NFTs. A music NFT could encompass anything from an album, song, piece of merchandise (t-shirts, stickers etc.) or album artwork. It is simultaneously a genre, medium, and a media format. For example, Kings of Leon released merchandise authenticated by NFTs alongside their latest album, and the Canadian musician Grimes released exclusive content (digital images of cherubs) set to her music.

The term “NFT” has become something of a buzzword of late in the music and art industry. In fact, I recently wrote another CoinMarketCap piece about the record-breaking sale of Beeple’s digital artwork Everydays: “The First 500 Days” which detailed NFT technology’s emerging role in the creative industry, and hinted at its potential uses by recording artists.

What Is an NFT?

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a cryptographic token that records who owns a piece of digital content on the blockchain. NFTs are generally stored on the Ethereum blockchain, although other blockchains, such as Flow and Tezos, have started supporting them as well. NFTs are unique digital assets and as the name suggests, non-fungible. This lack of exchangeability makes NFT adaptable to securing unique items such as contracts, digital art, and this case – music.

Artists can create their own NFTs and then auction them off to their fans, who pay for them using cryptocurrency. Multiple buyers could purchase an NFT, making owning one a lot more accessible, especially if it’s a big-ticket item. Artists can also receive royalties every time an NFT changes hands, which puts a lot of power back into artists’ hands and ensures that they are being duly compensated for their work.

How Audio NFTs Are Changing the Music Industry

  1. Adding Royalties Through Resales: Artists can earn additional revenue or royalties following an initial sale, as each transaction could generate income for them.
  2. Connecting Artists and Music Lovers Directly: NFTs enable fans to own portions of the music they love while providing artists with an avenue to securing their intellectual property.
  3. Ending Concert Ticket Scalping: Blockchain ticketing platforms like Yellowheart could render scalping obsolete, ensuring the authenticity of digital tickets and giving artists control over ticket sales.

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Problems With Crypto Music

Despite its promises, the majority of artists utilizing NFT technology are already big names, making the industry less democratic and more elitist. Additionally, minting NFTs is often cited as being extremely energy-intensive, raising environmental concerns.


The use of NFTs in the creative industry is reshaping the way we consume music. However, environmental and social challenges still exist. Should crypto music meet these challenges, it may very well change the music industry faster than the invention of the vinyl record or compact disc.

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Read also: How Is Music For A Casino Chosen?

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