OMG NFTs WTF
For the last couple years I have lived in the world of web3… which for the longest time I (and most people) referred to as NFTs. It is entirely possible that you have not heard of NFTs but it is much more likely that what you have heard has been overwhelmingly negative. Which is a bummer because the technology that makes these magic jpegs go is fascinating. Let’s talk about it.
Non Fungible Tokens, that is what NFT stands for, are unique tokens that exist on the blockchain. To break that down further, an NFT is a work of art that lives on a giant worldwide computer with a public record of ownership. To make it simpler, imagine purchasing a physical work of art from an artist you love and the purchasing of that art work is noted in public record. If you sell that artwork to someone else, that transfer gets recorded and the new owner is noted.
I am not sure that makes any more sense. I have spent the last 18 months explaining NFTs to individuals and fortune 500 companies… and I am still not sure it always makes sense. We will come back to understanding in a bit, but first lets talk about why NFTs are amazing.
When I was first introduced to NFTs the part of them that really grabbed my attention was the way they were built to protect artists. It is really hard to make money as an artist and once your art is sold you receive no more monetary benefit from that work of art. So if you sell it for $50 and the person who buys it sells it for $10,000, you still only have $50. NFTs change that.
As the creator of an NFT you can choose the amount of royalties that you want to receive for subsequent sales of your art work. This can be from 0-10%. And these rules live forever. That means as your work becomes more popular (or you become more famous) you can continue to make money off our your work. Which, to me, seems only fair.
One of the, I hesitate to say, bad sides of NFTs are flippers. People who want to buy and sell NFTs in order to make money. These people are not interested in the art work, the artist, the community, or anything other than making money. They have told themselves that they “deserve” to get paid for purchasing art and will do everything in their power to pump the value of an NFT so they can dump what they purchased.
This is not an artists first attitude and goes against what I believe the power of NFTs to be. There are flippers who don’t think that they should have to pay artist’s royalties and have built marketplaces that do not honor the royalties for creators. This is not great, but led to some interesting community discussions around artist royalties and what artists deserve/ are owed.
I have headed off on a tangent about artist royalties… that is a discussion for another day.
NFTs are a wonderful tool for artists to connect with their fans in a new way. It is also a way for artists to continue to get paid for their work long after it has passed from their hands. And that is why they are important.