NFTs For Art And Philanthropy Could Be Crypto’s Next Act

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have come under fire, even pronounced dead as a fading trend with fewer sales and OpenSea’s layoffs. This is the natural evolution of technology, the “hype cycle” of technology that rapidly comes onto the scene: a surge of interest from an “innovation trigger”, followed by a “trough of disillusionment,” until they settle on meaningful use-cases and value-creation. Even during this challenging time, there has been an explosion of creativity with open-minded leadership among several US states like Tennessee. Artists and entrepreneurs are looking at NFTs to solve real-world problems in the art, culture, and philanthropy domains.

NFTs provide authenticated ownership. Consider historical artifacts and collectibles. Rally Rd. tokenizes historical assets—think a 1940s original Batman DC comic or the last performance ticket of Elvis Presley in 1977—allowing holders to share in the profits of the asset from a potential sale. The Austrian Post experimented with the Crypto Stamp Art through a digital and physical representation, often referred to as a “phygital,” of the most famous and valuable stamp “Vermilion Mercury” from 1851 and a re-interpretation in July 2022. These phygitals utilize near-field communication (NFC) chip functionality pioneered by Varius Card, an Austrian leader in NFT and identification technology.

Large art institutions have entered the NFT ecosystem. The William S. Paley Foundation announced that it would raise some $70 million via auction to expand the digital footprint of the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and possibly acquire the museum’s first NFTs. Here NFTs validate the authentic art (or music), ensuring that buyers are not given a fraudulent item.

On September 30th Living Opera – a multimedia startup that builds classical music based digital assets on the blockchain – launches the Magic Mozart NFT collection, a generative art project based on characteristics from Mozart’s Magic Flute. The collection contains digital art and personalized on-chain musical minuets based on a replica of Ein Musikalisches Würfelspiel – a musical dice game attributed to Mozart. While music lovers agree that the game is an incredible demonstration of Mozart’s musical genius, it also appeals to technologists: with over a quadrillion permutations that create a new musical selection, the algorithmic musical composition has captivated the interest of top computer scientists.

The founders of Living Opera aspire to reform philanthropy space using a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to facilitate access to grants on a rapid and transparent basis. When they function at their true state, DAOs use smart contracts – or code – that dictate what will happen if a certain condition is met. Smart contracts promise to expedite the grantmaking process and add greater transparency over the acquisition and use of funds.

In 2021, US arts and humanities organized received $23.5 billion in charitable donations. However, artists’ wages have continued to stagnate. Living Opera’s whitepaper based on Census Bureau data shows that US artists not only earn less than the average American, but have experienced a relative decline in their total earnings since 2009. Despite substantial funding for arts and cultural institutions, challenges for artists have only grown. “Although that might sound immaterial for people in non-arts sectors, it is gravely important: not only does the arts and culture sector constitute 4.2 percent of gross domestic product, notes the Bureau of Economic Analysis, but also the arts have a profound multiplier effect on creativity and innovation that is not easily reducible with available data,” notes Christos Makridis, the group’s CFO.

DAOs could facilitate micro-grants to artists and democratize funding applications and experiential arts learning. Living Opera is building the first arts entrepreneurship verifiable credential that will exist on the blockchain. DAOs and smart contracts enable a wave of innovation and mobility into certain states over others. “Living Opera relocated to Nashville because of a legislation that Tennessee Representative Jason Powell spearheaded that allows DAOs receive similar treatment to LLCs and non-profits – perfect for the Living Arts DAO,” said Soula Parassidis, Living Opera’s CEO.

“DAOs are a vehicle that will drive idea in music, fintech and healthcare. Tennessee is winning whenever new DAOs are established in our state that help transform industries,” noted TN Representative Jason Powell. “I proposed the DAO legislation because I believe in democratizing the ability to participate in various ventures previously not open to most people. I am hopeful that more high-impact legislation will be passed as web3 initiatives evolve and transform the business landscape.”

“We’re increasingly seeing the need for innovative solutions that take opera into new digital spaces, while remaining anchored to our love of the art form. Nashville Opera’s strategic plan challenges us to ‘Sing bravely’ in any context, and that includes the metaverse,” said John Hoomes Nashville Opera CEO.

Nashville startup Solo Music offers artists, agencies, labels, and publishing companies a solution to maximize how blockchains will impact artist careers and the overall industry. Their platform allows users to create a profile, or a digital wallet on the back-end, with just an email and password, or even a Google, Facebook, or Apple account.

“Engaging with and utilizing web3 should not require a computer science degree. Solo’s mission is to make this technology available to everyone for the benefit of creators everywhere. By enabling the use of emails, credit cards and handling all blockchain based features automatically for our users, we will allow for anyone to onboard themselves and start to build in the Web3 space,” said Barron Solomon Solo Music CEO. This functionality is not just for musicians, but for any content creator. “We view NFTs as a natural offshoot for artists, as well as any types of content creators, because it provides a way for them to directly connect with their fans and build communities.”