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Are NFTs The New Napster? This Time The Music Industry Isn’t Taking Chances

The embrace of NFTs by Kings of Leon was a wake-up call for their record label—and the music industry, which is now racing to avoid the same mistake that almost killed it 20 years ago.

More than two decades after it released its first album, Kings of Leon was honored at the Rock Roll Hall of Fame. But what got the southern-inflected rock band to Cleveland last April was not its music; it was its non-fungible token (NFT) called “NFT Yourself.”

The digital tokens went on sale in March for the Ethereum equivalent of $50 a pop, and included a copy of the band’s latest album, a unique piece of artwork, a one-off gold record and musical outtakes. Over the two weeks it was available, KoL moved 6,500 copies of “NFT Yourself” for a total of $2.2 million, including six “Golden Tickets” that sold at an average price of $100,000. Those extra-special NFTs included lifetime VIP concert access to one show per tour, complete with a chauffeur. Since the original two-week offer, the NFTs have generated another $246,000 in aftermarket sales, with the band collecting 10% of that.

While the financial performance wasn’t revolutionary, the ripple effects are being felt throughout the music industry.

“Record deals have lost their value, in a way,” says Nathan Followill, Kings of Leon’s 41-year-old drummer. “Nowadays a kid can make a record on GarageBand and put it out on TikTok or put it out

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