For years, releasing an artist’s work posthumously was some extent of rivalry amongst followers, critics, and collectors. Both important acclaim and enthusiastic embrace of loyal communities have met traditional creatives like Hemingway and Van Gogh and modern-day musicians like Mac Miller and Pop Smoke. Not so for posthumous releases from Harper Lee and John Lennon — which have been met with derision and criticism.
Now, as new applied sciences and artwork kinds emerge, many estates are exploring NFTs and the blockchain to pay tribute to the life and legacy of deceased legends.
According to OneOf CEO Lin Dai, posthumous NFT collections unlock new alternatives for followers to join with their favourite artists after demise and discover a neighborhood of like-minded individuals who share the identical love and appreciation for the late artists.
“While posthumous album release was the way in the 90s and 2000s to share the artist’s art with the community, NFT is the perfect technology in 2022 to forever cement the artist’s legacy on the blockchain,” he says.
However, others see it in a very completely different gentle, accusing estates and companions of sacrificing an icon’s legacy to capitalize on a fad to make a fast buck. Over the final 12 months, we’ve got seen a handful of posthumous NFT collections, with every drop eliciting equal quantities of appreciation and horror from their followers.
And this raises an enormous query: What separates a well-received posthumous NFT assortment from a controversial one? To be taught extra in regards to the neighborhood’s stance on posthumous NFT collections, we spoke with followers, haters, and the individuals behind the venture.
Bringing NFTs with worth to the followers
Ultimately, the aim of any movie star NFT venture is one in every of two issues: to deliver worth to their followers or to revenue off them. Both are simply sniffed out by at this time’s era of digitally native shoppers, and as you’ll be able to anticipate, the latter is mostly met with intense criticism.
According to Jason Levin, Staff Writer of The Defiant, posthumous NFT collections want to be used to present tangible worth that enhances the artist’s legacy. Plus, followers want to need no matter is being promised within the first place.
“A great way to do this is by providing tokenholders with unreleased content,” he stated in an interview with nft now. “If the NFT offering is only ‘collectibles,’ cute cartoon pictures, or ‘a community,’ that’s a sign for me that it’s a clear cash grab from the estate. Not classy. But if Mac Miller or Pop Smoke’s estates released NFTs that gave you access to a token-gated vault of unreleased music, that would be fresh. I’d 100% buy that.”
NFT investor and author Tom White echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the significance of integrity and authenticity from each the property and any companions concerned with the venture.
“On the internet (let alone within the wild west of NFTs), authenticity rules and phoniness drools. True collectors, diehard fans, and long-term investors alike—though they love when ‘prices go up’ — can suss out whether a project is a mere cash grab or an authentic extension of an artist’s corpus,” he says. “Though not posthumous, an example of the former is Chris Brown’s recent drop. And although not a conventional commercial success, I think the David Gahr Archive’s recent DECADES Retrospective (n.b., I am holding one) was done both tastefully and truthfully.”
Acknowledging this stark distinction, inexperienced NFT platform OneOf develops every of its posthumous releases with the identical method: Depict an genuine reflection and a celebration of the artist’s life and work, whereas additionally delivering partaking one-of-a-kind experiences to followers from all walks of life.
With the discharge of their most up-to-date Notorious B.I.G. NFT assortment, all holders obtain the suitable to license the audio of Biggie’s Fulton Street Freestyle to be used in their very own music. Never beforehand cleared for sampling or adaptation, token holders can now license and embody the audio from Smalls’ traditional freestyle in their very own recordings, and even function a “Notorious B.I.G” credit score within the title.
Since the corporate’s launch in 2021, OneOf has partnered with the estates of world icons like Muhammad Ali and Whitney Houston to honor their legacies in new and thrilling methods. To be genuine to the late artist, it’s important that the property is concerned in each step of the planning and artistic path, stated Dai.
“The Notorious B.I.G. ‘Sky’s The Limit’ collection is a 3D generative NFT, taking cues from Biggie’s life and lyrics, conceptualized and painstakingly developed over almost a year, where no detail is too small, from every outfit and jewelry to his facial expressions.”
Leveraging social accounts for the NFT launch
OneOf’s method and distinctive, unparalleled utility are in stark distinction to the widely-bashed Stan Lee drop, which was largely written off as a disingenuous cash-grab. Produced by Orange Comet, an organization that creates NFTs for manufacturers and sports activities groups, Lee’s posthumous Chakraverse drop celebrated the discharge of one in every of Lee’s new superheroes, “Chakra the Invincible.” The Chakraverse assortment consisted of animated videos, PFPs, 1/1 artworks, and thriller packing containers which granted bidders entry to a group of shock NFTs.
A giant cause for the backlash was due to the promotion of the gathering immediately on Stan Lee’s official Twitter account. The put up was closely ratioed between likes and feedback, often a tell-tale signal of controversy.
Popular YouTuber Dolan Dark replied: “Can’t believe Stan Lee came back from the dead just to promote an NFT.” This garnered greater than 84,000 likes, eclipsing the likes of the preliminary put up by greater than six occasions. Another Twitter person replied: “Using Stan Lee’s Twitter account to promote an NFT gets you sent straight to hell.”
Even Dictionary.com received in on the motion, accusing the crew behind the venture of defiling Stan’s legacy.
While the backlash is comprehensible given the overly promotional nature of the Tweet, some collectors like White don’t have an issue with utilizing unique social accounts, however fairly see their use as a manner to keep away from scams and guarantee legitimacy. Additionally, White acknowledged social media to be an integral a part of any launch in at this time’s age.
“As our analog and digital worlds increasingly overlap, intersect, and indeed converge, it is vital for artists and their respective estates to meet individuals where they are,” stated White. “This is both literal and aesthetical; per Marshall McLuhan, ‘The medium is the message.’ As such, I believe posthumous collections that honor the intent and vision of an artist while employing novel mediums that accentuate the work are a good thing.”
Lisa Teh, co-founder of the Web3 advertising company Mooning, additionally agreed, citing social channels “as another way for fans to stay connected with their idols, so it makes sense that they would promote this new way of community engagement and reward.”
Focus on accessibility and function
In addition to integrity and authenticity, one of the essential features of a posthumous drop is making certain the venture will get into the palms of followers who actually recognize it. And with NFT costs typically excluding the vast majority of collectors from collaborating, accessibility and affordability must be on the forefront of all founders’ minds. Not solely does this apply to pricing, but in addition to training and onboarding, stated Dai.
“To achieve a sense of community, NFTs have to be made accessible and affordable, so that any fan can have an opportunity to participate. We’ve made the conscious decision to price each generative mint at $100 with $0 gas fee charged to the fan, as well as built an interface to allow the everyday fans who may not be a crypto expert to sign up with an email and purchase with a credit card, in addition to more sophisticated Web3 tools to purchase with crypto.”
But past elevating the fan expertise, OneOf additionally sees the worth of conveying the very best needs of the icons themselves. To additional illustrate this dedication, OneOf all the time donates a portion of the proceeds from each drop to the artist’s most well-liked charity. Community members have broadly appreciated this charitable element, with give-back missions changing into a core worth prop of many profitable collections, each posthumous and in any other case.
As Web3 and NFTs proceed to inherit the cultural zeitgeist, there’s no query that we’ll proceed to see estates experiment with these new applied sciences. And controversy will undoubtedly stay. But, in the end, the reception to NFT collections, like most artwork kinds, is primarily subjective, and might evoke completely different feelings from followers with various preferences. But after the discharge, one other maybe extra poignant query emerges: Will these collections maintain their worth? Ultimately, collector Michael Keenan believes collections that authentically inform a narrative will maintain their worth over time. “Posthumous NFT collectibles, or 1:1 pieces that tell a story interest me more. You can tell who puts heart and thought into any NFT collection, be it posthumous or not. Those are the pieces worth investing in and holding onto.”