Why I Believe NFTs Can Empower Musicians


Tan Hanjin, an award-winning Singaporean singer-songwriter living in Hong Kong, made his first NFT release in March 2021. (PHOTO: Tan Hanjin)

By Lyn Chan

SINGAPORE — Digital artist Beeple, aka Mike Winkelmann, caught the world’s attention when his NFT, or non-fungible token, sold for $69 million at a Christie’s auction in March 2021.

Prior to the blowout sale, the most Beeple had ever sold for his work was US$100, as reported on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He also said, “I think you’re going to see a lot more people doing this, and a lot more artists taking this approach, just because it’s another way to monetize and make a living.”

To put it simply, an NFT is a digital asset, including images, GIFs, songs, and videos, that is created using blockchain technology. It provides proof of authenticity and ownership.

Tan Hanjin, an award-winning Singaporean singer-songwriter living in Hong Kong, considers himself one such artist.

“Most musicians don’t (even) earn enough for rent. In America – the largest music market in the world – the incomes of 99.8% of registered musicians are below the poverty line. Naturally, the situation is worse in non-US markets,” he lamented in a recent interview with Yahoo Finance Singapore. “When NFTS appeared, they seemed to me to be the very first viable solution.”

He unfurled his gospel war cries, but soon realized he needed to bolster his vocal rallying ground with a solid action. “I played as a lab rat and released very basic demos of musical NFTs for other musicians to reference and copy.”

Tan’s first NFT drop came in March last year, marking his place in history as the first Chinese musician to launch an NFT. The single, Nobody Gets Me, grossed 7 ethers (about US$20,053) in seconds, according to a report from Variety. Tan was ecstatic and said, “My whole drop was built around the number seven, and the buyer got it. It made me happy as a creator that storytelling still counts for something in our time.

The 46-year-old who has collaborated with names including Christina Aguilera, Eason Chan and Sammi Cheng has since sold two more NFTs. The xxxx is an NFT is a 27 second MP4 of a new song. It was made available in 77 coins, each costing 7 Binance Coins. Tan earned 539 BNB from this effort. The third NFT Tan created is a collection exclusively for his fans. The first phase saw the sale of 48 Hamsterz at 1 ETH.

Three successful drops later, Tan is in the thick of the NFT action. It is already planning to launch a supply chain-oriented music-FI platform. “I want to make a real difference. Significant change.

Meanwhile, he can be found in Cyberport, the Hong Kong government-backed version of Silicon Valley. Under his responsibility is an acceleration program which aims to help start-ups wishing to create NFT and/or adopt blockchain.

Evangelism continues.

What thought is required to create each NFT?

Many. The first drop was a demo for any beginner attempting their first drop. Therefore, a single auction on OpenSea made sense. I started with the single, Nobody Gets Me, because it’s a song about a musician having fun in a foreign country. His trials and tribulations. His dedication to the dream. NFTs are viable in my mind, but until I prove it in real life, it’s still a dream come true for the viewer.

For the second, I wanted to prove that music NFTs are viable on other channels; Ethereum gas fees are expensive. The Binance Smart Chain was the only alternative smart contract chain available at the time. I also wanted to demonstrate to the music communities the viability of multiple copies and fixed prices.

My third NFT drop was in a mini-collection to prove that NFTfi – crowdfunding on the blockchain – can be done on a very small scale. It went pretty well.

Describe your NFT creation process for Nobody Gets Me

A week to study and a few days to produce and strike. A week of non-stop marketing on Clubhouse and social media. Three weeks holding other musicians and evangelizing NFT in the media.

The research was mostly done on Google and talking to crypto natives I got to know on Clubhouse. It was long and difficult, and continues to this day.

Opensea is the easiest and most accessible platform for beginners. It has the lowest running costs. It was the obvious place to release my first demo. Setting up a MetaMask wallet, creating an OpenSea account, and minting for the first time will be an attempt for everyone. Once you’ve gone through it, you’ll know. It’s not rocket science though; it’s just foreign.

My experiences in researching, creating and commercializing NFTs have reinforced my belief that NFTs can change the world. It’s just hard to tell now, because the landscape is nascent.

What is your opinion on the blockchain?

I believe blockchain is here to stay and will become an important part of our lives.

Many honest people and businesses are suffering in this post-COVID Web 2.0 world. I believe that NFTs and NFTfi are the solutions. Where crowdfunding has failed, NFTfi will succeed. Immediately, automatically, and immutably, buyers get what they pay for and businesses get paid for what they deliver, regardless of the rate of sale.

Creators and businesses can go to market multiple times. Buyers can resell the NFTs they bought and buy other NFTs they missed in the secondary market. This will “save” a lot of creators and businesses in need. NFTfi will create a fair and democratic marketplace for supporters and early investors.

Any advice for others considering creating NFTs?

Do it. Do it. Do not be too long. Do not be afraid. It is now. The next guy doesn’t know much more than you. Even if he does now, he might not next month. We are extremely ahead.

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