Talent management firm Universal Music Group (UMG) has signed a partnership with non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace LimeWire. The project will enable UMG artists to sell audiovisual content, including audio recordings, backstage footage and artwork directly to fans and collectors.
UMG manages the copyrights for its artists’ content and will sell individual licenses to LimeWire to commercialize as digital collectibles. The revenue split between the artists, LimeWire, UMG, and digital content creators involved was not disclosed.
Founded in 2000, LimeWire was originally a peer-to-peer file-sharing website used to share music with over 50 million monthly users at its peak. The website’s popularity was so great that an NDP survey found that in 2009, 58% of people who downloaded music from peer-to-peer networks used LimeWire.
U.S. recorded music sales fell from $14.5 billion in 1999 to $7.7 billion in 2009, and services like LimeWire were much to blame for the drop. A U.S. federal court shut down the platform in 2010 following a four-year legal battle with the U.S. music industry over copyright infringement.
Hence seeing a leading music label like UMG partnering with LimeWire seems ironic. But the platform is completely relaunching its branding and services as an NFT marketplace with an initial focus on music. In April of this year, it raised $10.4 million through the sale of its token LMWR to venture capital firms and influential music figures such as Steve Aoki.
UMG is no stranger to NFTs and the partnership with LimeWire highlights its bet on using digital assets as a utility source for fans and artists alike. In an earnings call, UMG’s CEO Sir Lucian Grainge stated his view on NFTs and how UMG is looking to implement them:
“You may see one-off NFT drops. I’m far more interested in a long-term sustainable business model where this product, this opportunity – and I include the metaverse in that – is part of the conversation with our artists where it’s baked into their long-term marketing campaigns. (…) I want it to become something sustainable and long term as opposed to just a headline today about something that everyone talks about for an hour. I want it to be baked into our business.”
Universal has a music group called Kingship based on the Bored Ape Yacht Club brand, and last week it launched 10,000 NFTs, which are expected to give fans access to a virtual world created for the music group. UMG has also partnered with Billboard for an NFT platform, NFT startup Curio, and digital avatars platform Genies for the launch of avatars and wearables as NFTs of its roster of artists.