Something historic just took place in the world of Welsh language culture – but you probably missed it
Something historic took place in the world of Welsh culture yesterday and it probably passed you by. Griff Lynch, the well-known Welsh language musician released his latest single as an NFT.
It became the first Welsh language music NFT in history, and I was the lucky person who bought it. So what’s the big deal?
What is an NFT?
An NFT is a non-fungible token.
It’s a digital token that is unique and can’t be copied, replaced or forged. It currently resides in the geeky world of crypto-currency and has taken the art world by storm. Sales of unique digital artworks sold as NFTs reached $300 million in January and February alone. One crypto artist called Beeple, has sold over $100m worth of his art.
But it’s not just art that can be turned into an NFT. They can be concert tickets, limited-edition experiences, digital content, merchandise, and music. The musician and producer 3LAU raised $11.6m from his NFT collection. Kings of Leon are releasing their new album as an NFT.
But what did you actually buy?
By purchasing Griff Lynch’s track as an NFT, I get a unique digital copy of the track as a wav file. I also get a high-resolution copy of the artwork by Stefan Dafydd. I keep these items in my crypto wallet. I can play the track and look at the artwork. You can see it here.
But I can listen to the track and see the artwork anywhere without buying the NFT
Yes you can, that’s true. But you can also see copies and prints of the Mona Lisa. Why buy the master pressing of The Beatles White Album when you can hear it on the radio? The NFT of Griff’s track is a collectable. It is traceable back to its creation and its provenance is totally transparent.
So why did you buy it?
I’m fascinated by the concept of digital assets. A decade ago, I created and sold digital football kits on a virtual world called Second Life. People would pay me real money to be able to dress their digital characters in their favourite football kits.
I now collect NFTs. I buy and trade NFT football cards on a platform called Sorare. I own virtual property in New York and San Francisco in a game called Upland. And I am currently looking to buy an NFT racehorse to compete in digital races on a game called Zen Run.
But more importantly, I think it is really important that Wales and the Welsh language has a presence in these new digital worlds. And when I saw that Griff Lynch was releasing the first Welsh-language, (and maybe even the first Welsh music NFT), I wanted to support him. I used to buy vinyl and CDs to support Welsh musicians, but I’ve done less of that since I joined Spotify. If we want Welsh culture to flourish in the modern era, we need to provide an audience and a market.
How did you buy it?
It wasn’t easy. The first step is to create a crypto-wallet. I used a website called Coinbase to do this. I bought some crypto-currency called Ethereum (ETH) and transferred it to another platform called Metamask. I then had to convert it from ETH to a different form called WETH. There are fees at each step of the way, and I bid 0.7 ETH for the NFT on the Opensea.io website which is currently worth about £110.
Are NFTs really the future or are they just a fad?
Honestly, I don’t know. Currently, there’s not much to them. But who knows what will be developed in the future? That first vinyl 10” would have sounded pretty thin, but look at the amazing hi-fi hardware that has been developed to play it since. What will our digital wallets look like in 50 years? But it sort of doesn’t matter. Even failed technology is interesting and innovative art experiments are valuable whatever the result.
What about the environmental impact?
This is a problem. The amount of computing power to generate crypto-currency and NFTs is unsustainable. The whole process needs streamlining and refining. I’m confident that will happen, but for now, the crypto industry is as dirty as the earliest power plants. On an individual level, I’m not sure whether Griff’s NFT was more environmentally costly than producing a vinyl record. But the problem does need resolving urgently.
Where can I create and buy NFTs?