It’s been an interesting week in drum & bass with various artists exploring NFTs with their releases. Teddy Killerz have just listed their new Eatbrain EP as an NFT on cryptoart auction site Opensea where the successful bidder will receive a percentage of digital sales, Dutta has just announced a new NFT dub pack while on Monday Saxxon announced the first NFT drum & bass album.
Entitled Fractions, it’s the UK artist’s second album and will feature the likes of PAV4N, Navigator, Carasel, MC Astro and new vocalist Abie. Landing next month, Fractions will be sold in a series of three different drops, two of which will be as NFTs. Created as what he describes as a “time capsule” to mark the historic release, Saxxon has adopted the new technology in a bid to bring value back to the music and shed light on other platforms and methods beyond streaming services. Minted on the NFT blockchain this week, Fractions will be the first drum & bass LP released in this way and the first album by a UK artist of any genre to be sold this way.
For my long awaited second LP: I’m going in>>>
I’ll be dropping the world’s first original drum and bass album powered by NFT technology.
I’ll be telling you all about it in UKF this week.
— Saxxon Music (@SaxxonMusic) March 14, 2021
While most NFT stories have been hype-based and stated mind-boggling numbers like 3LAU raising $11.5million for 33 album NFTs, Aphex Twin selling digital artwork for over £90,000 or even the Nyan Cat meme going for £590,000, Saxxon recommends looking beyond the hype and is much more interested in the ethics of NFT technology in terms of its effects on the industry.
We spoke to him about it to learn more, but as an introduction, NFTs are Non Fungible Tokens. They’re a unique crypto ID using Ethereum blockchain that can be used to sell anything including music, digital artwork, videos or a combination of creations. An NFT cannot be replicated or exchanged for something else and can only be sold using NFT auction sites. Consider them a certificate of authenticity and ownership, NFTs hold value that relates to fans interested in them. Similar to trading cards, the more unique the combination – from a one-off piece to a series of 20 digital albums, all numbered and watermarked – the more valuable the NFT might be considered by fans.
Using blockchains, NFTs are open, public ledgers that explain the uniquity of the item the token pertains to, who owns the token, when they bought it and how much for. At present they are only available using the cryptocurrency Ethereum. This article breaks down the tech and uses the example of a work of art you can see in a gallery. Anyone can look at a digital replication, but there is only one actual copy. The whole idea behind NFTs is to create true value in digital ownership – value for the creator but also the owner who knows they have something unique. This is something that’s been inherent to DJ culture and record collection and an aspect of our music that originally inspired Saxxon and has driven him to adopt this technology for his new album. We found out more…
Tell us about the new LP!
Yes! It’s been a long lockdown and, if the pandemic gave us anything, it was time to work on ourselves and our projects. The LP is going to be called Fractions and it’s a reflection of all the parts that make up my varied taste and styles of D&B. Due to the historic nature of how it’s being released I wanted to make it a proper time capsule for drum & bass, so it has some nostalgic feels plus plenty of contemporary flavour. It’s also being served up in time for the much-anticipated return to the raves, so asides from some liquid flavour there’s plenty designed to rattle club walls and remind the long dormant bass bins of their special purpose. Moment of silence for the dusty rigs – we are coming for you soon!
Ha! So what else can you tell us?
I’m not giving away everything about the LP today and I’ll tell you why in the moment but I do wanna shout my vocal collaborators for bringing their own unique edge the project. There’s a super gassy tune from PAV4N from Foreign Beggars, the legendary foundation Navigator, Bristol soldier and all round geezer Carasel, Texas-based vibe constructor MC Astro and also a brand new voice in Abie, who I can’t wait for you to hear.
Can’t wait to hear! So we can’t even see the cover?
Ι can’t drop the actual LP art yet as it’s a very special part of the project, so for those that want to be first to see need to link my site for notifications of the drop. saxxon.space is the URL.
So let’s chat NFTs. This is the historic factor you mention, right?
Yeah, an NFT is the format which it’s available in. It will be the first of its kind. We’ve all been hearing about NFT’s these last few weeks, whether we like it or not, but I’ve been keeping my eye on them since 2017 as I could see this being something amazing for music. Now people are starting to understand it, it felt the natural time to adopt this new medium, and I’m happy to tell you why.
Seems like there’s a lot of money being thrown around for NFTs…
Some people are making big money. But I want to cut through the hype and I have no expectation for big money from this. It’s all about taking this opportunity to shine a light on these new mediums and show listeners and artists there are better ways available already, we just need to a bit more adventurous and explore them.
The main benefit is digital scarcity, which creates value in something that has sadly lost all its value, right?
Yeah, I immediately understand it as I introduced the idea of digital scarcity to the scene back in early 2013. The idea came from the fact I was a bit disappointed that I’d entered the scene at a time when my favourite format at the time, vinyl, was dying out.
I was gutted! And not just because it was less likely I’d see my name running around a 1210’s spindle, but the fact without physical copies, digital was endless. There was so ‘special feeling’ attached to managing to bag a download, you just kinda had it! Vinyl had that special sauce, scarcity. The very most basic building block of economics. So, to re-introduce that, was to reintroduce that feeling for the DJ of having something the next man didn’t. That edge over the friendly competition of your fellow DJ. This went on to then be USBs, dub packs etc. The only issue here was some people dropped a limited run of 100, then decided to drop 100 more the week later. Great for the pocket, but kinda messes the whole thing up.
So NFTs are like a certificate of ownership, then? Something to prove the limited nature of whatever is attached to the NFT…
Yeah. You can’t add more copies to that drop as every part of that item’s trading history is transparent and tracible. So that’s massive for fan confidence and the NFT ownership making it more official. The second benefit is to the artist and the fans – if you resell your NFT on the secondary marketplace the original artist (if they uploaded it) gets a 10% of that trade. That’s massive. Imagine that in the 90s; every time a CD was sold and gained value the creator of that art also sees a benefit. Do you think you’d have seen Coolio on Big Brother if this system was in place before?
Haha. This could be a gamechanger. Or could it still be a massive fad?
In a way, yes, but only in the way that cassettes, vinyl and CDs were. Just so happened those fads lasted many years, as this most likely will as we uncover all the ways to make use of the technology. Be prepared for every type imaginable, but essentially it’s just another format. Just happens to instil value in creations we have been quite used to getting for free. You can insert a Starbucks coffee analogy in here if you like. And for the bitcoin crew it’s a lot sexier dealing with items from artists and celebrities than purely trading coin, and there’s more ways to speculate, which I think people will find engaging.
How do you think this will affect streaming services?
Streaming platforms serve their purpose and there’s no going back to the time before them. However sending your real fans to check out your music there seems a little counterproductive to me. Yes let your music be discovered by new fans there. But seriously? It’s like Tom Cruise waiting for you at the doors when you go to the Cineworld to watch Mission Impossible 24 and he says ‘don’t waste your money in here, you can stream this for free at home (in way lower quality)’ That’s what people are doing, then the streaming platform can use your music as a commodity to sell advertising space. So definitely time to explore additional options and perhaps things that deserve more of our attention.
At a time where some artist’s self worth is hanging by a thread thanks to things like the UK government telling them to retrain (and they are not viable) and made it even more clear how absolutely massively rinsed out everyone is! There just needs to be a better model. So, having the time we’ve had for perspective, I couldn’t encourage my friends in the scene to explore these new options enough. Times are a changing. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be focussing too much energy on these kind of streaming services, so check out Audius. If we all took to an alternative like this (think SoundCloud meets Spotify) the music lovers will follow if there’s enough music there to find.
So what’s the breakdown of your album drop?
There will be three drops….
The first of which is already minted and ready to go, it’s a special one of one. I can tell you it includes some of PAV4N’s original art and plenty of yet-to-be revealed unexpected additions.
The second will be in April in an exciting collaboration with a new music focussed NFT marketplace, which will be revealed soon.
And the third will be the standard release and for details of any of them, as they become available, join the list at saxxon.space (There will also be news of a listening party soon)
So the album will be out on a non NFT platform?
Yes eventually, and you’ll be able to stream the shorter version of the album, but not for a while after the exclusive drops.
What else is coming?
Look out for EPs for my friends at Weapons of Choice, Original Key and Digital Terror (thank you lockdown) some more free booties going out through Riot Dubs, in addition to working on a massive project for Chronic. Also want to send massive shouts and free digital hug NFTs to all my family, friends and fans near and far that you can redeem the moment we can be in each others company. It’s been a long time coming but we’re almost there!
Saxxon – Fractions is out next month. Sign up to Saxxon’s newsletter for more details