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Whitney Houston uber fans, rejoice— there’s a new way to own a part of the singing legend’s legacy.
A never-before-heard song recorded by Houston when she was just 17 is being auctioned off as part of a non fungible token (NFT) collection, which is being released on the Quincy Jones-backed NFT platform OneOf. It’s the latest in the booming digital trend, which is reshaping the economics of the music industry.
Bidding on the song begins on December 1 through OneOf, during Art Basel in Miami. The winner of the auction will be the only person to have access to the recording along with a one-of-a-kind video NFT.
“It turns out there was a real unreleased song, and not only that, a really good one,” Adam Fell, co-founder of OneOf and president of Quincy Jones Productions, told Yahoo Finance in an interview. “This is a celebration of Whitney Houston that’s important to Quincy Jones.”
The 27-time Grammy award winning record producer for legendary artists from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson met Houston when she was 16 years old — after being introduced by Motown songwriters Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.
Just prior to that, Jones worked with the duo on the film “The Wiz,” the 1978 project where he first worked with Michael Jackson. A year later, Houston recorded the unreleased song at the tender age of 17.
The drop includes more than just the new recording, and will be tiered. The collection includes digital artwork and video NFTs using rarely-seen archival photos from Houston's early life and career.
OneOf is offering a pre-sale limited edition of 300 tokens Wednesday, November 17 as part of the Whitney collection for $17 — symbolizing Houston’s age at the time of the recording. Artist Diana Sinclair who designed the NFTs and shares Houston’s values, is also 17 years old.
You’re creating an entirely new category that stands on its own and you are giving the fans something collectible like a baseball card that has value.Adam Fell, co-founder OneOf
OneOf is the brainchild of Fell, blockchain technology executive Lin Dai, and Joshua James, who created a company called Zig Media often referred to as the “Instagram of news” for distilling information into video and photos.
The trio wanted to make buying NFTs of various artists eco friendly, easy and accessible to everyone. Big name artists to emerging artists will be spotlighted on the platform.
Built on the Tezos (XTZ-USD) blockchain, minting a NFT on OneOf's platform uses two million times less energy than other proof-of-work networks. That means minting an NFT on OneOf takes about the same amount of electricity as one Twitter post, whereas minting an NFT on a “proof-of-work” platform uses the amount of electricity of the average U.S. household over a period of 5.3 days.
Lower energy prices allow the platform to offer NFTs at lower prices than other platforms. “Minting and gas costs on etherium can range from $75-$150,” Fell explained.
“If you’re spending $100 to mint your NFT you’re not going to sell it for less than a couple hundred bucks because you need margin. Does the average fan have a couple $100 to spend on an NFT? Probably not,” he added.
OneOf accepts Bitcoin (BTC-USD), Ethereum (ETH-USD) and tezos for purchase, but you don’t have to use cryptocurrency, or have a crypto wallet to purchase an NFT on this platform — you can use a credit card.
“We wanted it to be very simple,” Fell stated. “The average music fan might not hold crypto. We wanted a teenage music fan to be able to come on to our platform and spend no more than three minutes to buy his or her first NFT without realizing they were in the crypto space.”
Music legend embraces the future
With decades of experience in the music industry and foresight to understand trends in music, Jones and Fell were early adopters of Spotify – investing in 2010. They also saw the ability of that technology to eviscerate piracy.
And when the opportunity to create an eco friendly NFT music platform arose it was a no brainer. “It’s not like Quincy hasn’t been on the forefront of technology and this is no different,” Fell told Yahoo Finance.
The Houston NFT release comes as the market for NFTs are unearthing new revenue streams for the music industry, and providing opportunities for new ownership of songs by bidders and fans.
Fell said that NFTs are revolutionizing the way artists can finance their music careers. Traditionally, artists have had to seek out a record deal or publishing deal to get capital to record songs in a professional studio or make professional videos.
While crowdfunding platforms gave artists the opportunity to raise some funds to help finance their production costs for making songs and promoting themselves, NFTs are the next frontier. Some artists may use NFTs to avoid signing a record deal all together. Others will use them to raise capital to postpone signing with a label so that when they do the record deal they’re able to negotiate a better deal.
“For the artist who’s trying to have their career take off it’s empowering. I see it as a win for everyone,” Fell stated.
NFTs also offer labels a new revenue stream, he said. Labels are planning to use NFTs to help the artists they work with by offering more opportunities to monetize an artist’s merchandise, while also creating more buzz and interaction with fans through special token offerings, including around concerts.
“You’re creating an entirely new category that stands on its own and you are giving the fans something collectible like a baseball card that has value,” Fell stated. “That is game changing. It’s the ability to start your career in the music industry.”