NFT Mania: Swae Lee, Illmind, and Grimes Enter the Ring

Swae Lee, Illmind, and Grimes have all embraced the NFT craze

NFT Mania: Swae Lee, Illmind, and Grimes Enter the Ring

NFTs have the music industry buzzing in a way they have never before. Swae Lee, Illmind, and Grimes are some of the latest high-profile figures in music to embrace the NFT craze. Who’s next?

There really is no adrenaline rush like finding out one of your favorite music creatives is embracing the new technology you’ve been obsessing over for over a month. Now imagine that three times over. 

Swae Lee, Illmind, and Grimes
Image via ladidai

I found out that Swae Lee, Illmind, and Grimes were releasing their own NFT collectibles all within the same 24 hours. What a day. I was stoked, and you should be too. Let’s discuss. 

NFTs and Swae Lee 

I was up all night on Wednesday working tirelessly towards a deadline and taking periodic breaks to peep Twitter. I usually stumble upon memes and VC motivational tweets, but around 8am Thursday morning, I stumbled upon something else—Swae Lee’s video announcement.

In his tweet, he stated he was releasing his first digital art piece on Friday. And though he didn’t specifically reference NFTs, I knew that’s exactly what this was all about. 

Image via Medium

For those who don’t know, NFTs are non-fungible tokens. Essentially, they’re one-of-a-kind digital assets that represent a unique tangible or intangible item.

Swae Lee’s debut crypto art piece, First Sounds on Mars, was created in collaboration with digital animator Tillavision. It’s currently for auction on digital art marketplace SuperRare

On Friday, February 26th, the day of the drop, Tillavision tweeted further promo just hours before the exciting release.

The highest bid is currently 6.00 ETH, which is roughly $8,600. Swae Lee joins Lil Yachty and the late MF DOOM as the latest hip-hop artist to successfully delve into the world of crypto-collectibles. 

Illmind Leads the Pack

If you know me, you know Illmind is one of my favorite producers ever. If you don’t know me, you now know Illmind is one of my favorite producers ever. What’s more impressive than his resume, which boasts the likes of Drake, The Carters, and Kanye West, is his consistent propensity to push the needle forward.

Time and time again, Illmind has been recognized as a pioneer among music producers everywhere due to the brand he has solidified, the community he has built, and the products he has released. Illmind makes it a point to be ahead of the curve and to share as much knowledge as he can along the way. The release of ALORIUM, the first-ever NFT-backed sample loop and melody pack, is the latest testament to that. 

His pack was sold for 4.42 ETH ($6000) on digital marketplace Mintable.

An Evening with Grimes on Clubhouse 

Self-proclaimed Crypto Queen Grimes announced Thursday night that she would be discussing her NFT launch on Clubhouse

This conversation was moderated by the Culture Club founders, Jeff Carvalho, Ben Dietz, and Jian DeLeon. Notably, Grammy-Award winning Canadian producer, Illangelo; Grimes’ manager, Daouda Leonard; and Nifty Gateway’s Max Bucksbaum were also in attendance.

On Saturday, February 27th, Nifty Gateway tweeted that Grimes’ NFT collections, in collaboration with avatar developer Mac Boucher, were on the way.

As the time for her highly anticipated NFT drop neared, she proceeded to countdown in true Grimes fashion.

She also tweeted, “Blades by @Liv_Boeree!” This is especially important because we were definitely all wondering!

Find WarNymph Collection Volume 1 Open Editions and WarNymph Collection Volume 1 on Nifty Gateway’s website. All of the pieces are sold out, including Death of the Old which sold for almost $389,000.

NFT Celebrity Predictions 

Given that they have the infrastructure and the resources available to them, I foresee several more major label acts hopping aboard the NFT train (Canadian pop star Shawn Mendes has recently entered the ring). These ones I believe will be the most impactful.

The Weeknd

A crystal ball. I wish I had one. I don’t. But what I do have is the ability to put two and two together. And something tells me The Weeknd isn’t too far off from releasing his own crypto-collectibles in the very near future. 

From the release of his undeniably groundbreaking debut House of Balloons, to his investments in apps like Triller, to the establishment of his globally focused think tank HXOUSE, The Weeknd has always been one to be at the forefront of all things music, tech, and culture. Also, spotting his longtime collaborator Illangelo in Grimes’ Clubhouse room the other day further strengthens my suspicions that he’s up to something.

Travis Scott

When Travis Scott released the music video for his Billboard-topping hit “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”, many were wondering what exactly he was on. Little did we know, he was way ahead of the game. Just five months later, when the pandemic was declared, several other artists were forced to follow suit, using digital animation to create new worlds in their music videos. 

Besides dominating on the charts, Travis Scott proved himself to be the king of brand partnerships. In 2020, he inked several multi-million dollar deals, most notably with McDonald’s and Fortnite. The latter collaboration was especially novel given that surprisingly few major label artists are taking advantage of opportunities at the intersection of music and gaming.

Nonetheless, given Travis’ brand strength and the cult-like loyalty of his fanbase, an NFT release from him could easily break the internet. 

FKA twigs

Singer-songwriter FKA twigs has always been in her own lane, wowing us both sonically and visually. Throughout quarantine, she has already been involved in several exhibit-like projects in partnership with the likes of fashion photographer Mert Alas and mixed media artist Lyle Reimer. Take a peek at her AVANTgarden issue 7 below for Dazed Beauty

It goes without saying that twigs is brilliant, innovative, and an artist in every sense. As she continues to push the envelope, we’ll see if she takes her love for digitized productions to the NFT marketplace.

But Wait, There’s More

Other predictions I have for impending NFT releases are Drake (could that be the real reason why he’s postponing the release of CLB?), Lil Uzi (he’s very into Ethereum), and Lady Gaga (her latest album Chromatica would’ve been the perfect opportunity, but there’s always the deluxe). Let’s check back in six months.

Indie Action

Several independent and indie label acts have entered the NFT game, experiencing varying amounts of success.

3LAU

Selling 33 NFTs could make you a decent amount of cash, somewhere to the tune of $11.7 million

It could also land you in the New York Times. At least that was the case for DJ and electronic dance music producer 3LAU.

3LAU is no stranger to incorporating blockchain technology into his art, given that he launched the first crypto music festival way back in 2018. Considering that this is his first NFT-backed album, I’m sure we can expect even more releases of this nature soon.

Jacques Greene

Then there’s Canadian dance artist Jacques Greene who was just “trying it out”.

Turns out it was quite a profitable attempt: Jacques’ Promise sold for 13.00 ETH (almost $19,000) on Foundation.

You’re Up to Bat in the NFT Game

Ok so now that we have encountered a few real-world examples, let’s discuss how this can be achievable for independent music creators. Since you’ve done quite a bit of reading thus far, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. 

Do Your Research 

Learn the NFT basics (what they are, how they’re created, how they behave, etc.). Some great places to find information and resources include Decrypt, Loopify, HRDRV, House of Blackmoore, Github, and Water and Music.

Of course, as with any hot topic in tech, NFTs are discussed a ton on Clubhouse. There are several clubs, like NFTs.Tips, dedicated solely to NFT talk on the Clubhouse app, so search for them in the club directory.

Find Your Angle

NFTs have been around for some time, but most of the general public has really only become privy to them within the past few days. No matter how cool or on-trend crypto-collectibles may be, you still have to build value and market them accordingly. 

Find Your Platform 

Popular digital art marketplaces for crypto-collectibles include Zora, OpenSea, and Foundation. Artist-friendly collective tech optimist compiled an incredibly useful guide for those who are deciding between NFT platforms. I especially like the “Great for artists who are…” section!

Make and Mint Some NFTs

Make and mint some NFTs! And don’t feel like they have to be anything serious or even necessarily music-related when you’re just starting out. 

Platinum-selling songwriter and independent artist Mickey Shiloh couldn’t help but hop in on the fun with her first BAD NFT drop on Mintable. (Own a piece of history. It’s only 10 bucks!)

Further, I highly recommend checking out Mint Fund as they help provide not only funding for independent artists, but also mentorship.

Buy Some NFTs

If you want to take it a step further, buy some NFTs too. This thread is a quick and easy beginner’s guide on how to purchase them. (Make sure you download both Coinbase and Coinbase Pro!)

Be Real

Anything is possible, but don’t expect to become a millionaire overnight. Most creatives and technologists that have made hefty profits from their blockchain-backed releases had been working in their respective fields for years, if not decades. So keep some realistic expectations.

To NFT and Beyond

Excited? Confused? A little bit of both? Don’t worry. It’s not something to be understood all at once. Follow the aforementioned steps regularly and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an NFT expert. 

More importantly, once you thoroughly understand the implications of blockchain technology on the professional level, you can then begin to dissect the implications on the industry level.

And that’s where the real fun begins.


Want to know more about all things music tech? Be sure to tap in with us in our Bounce House club on Clubhouse and follow us on Twitter to stay in the loop. See you next Tech Tuesday!

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