For years, the posthumous publication of an artist’s work has been a point of contention among fans, critics, and collectors. Both critical acclaim and enthusiastic reception from loyal communities have hit classic creatives like Hemingway and Van Gogh and modern musicians like Mac Miller and Pop Smoke. Not so for posthumous releases by Harper Lee and John Lennon – which were met with ridicule and criticism.
Now, as new technologies and art forms emerge, many lands are exploring NFTs and the blockchain to pay tribute to the lives and legacies of legends who have died.
According to OneOf CEO Lin Daiposthumous NFT collections open up new opportunities for fans to connect with their favorite artists after death and to find a community of like-minded people who share the same love and appreciation for the deceased artists.
“Whereas posthumous album release was the way to share artist’s art with the community in the ’90s and 2000s, in 2022 NFT is the perfect technology to cement artist’s legacy on the blockchain forever,” he says .
Others, however, see it in a very different light, accusing estates and partners of sacrificing an icon’s legacy to capitalize on a fad for a quick buck. In the last year we’ve seen a handful of posthumous NFT collections, each release evoking equal acclaim and horror from its fans.
And that raises a big question: What separates a well-received posthumous NFT collection from a controversial one? To learn more about the community’s stance on posthumous NFT collections, we spoke to fans, haters, and the people behind the project.
Bring NFTs of value to fans
Ultimately, the goal of any celebrity NFT project is one of two things: to add value to their fans or to benefit from them. Both are easily sniffed out by today’s generation of digitally native consumers, and as you might expect, the latter generally draws heavy criticism.
Corresponding Jason LevinStaff Writer of The defiant, posthumous NFT collections must be used to create tangible value that enriches the artist’s legacy. In addition, the fans have to want what is promised in the first place.
“A great way to do that is by providing unreleased content to token holders,” he said in an interview with nft now. “If the NFT offering is just ‘collectibles’, cute cartoons, or ‘a community,’ that to me is a sign that it’s a cash grab from the estate. Not classy. But if the Mac Miller or Pop Smoke estates released NFTs that gave you access to a token-gate vault of unreleased music, that would be fresh. I would 100% buy that.”
NFT investor and author Tom White reiterated this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of integrity and authenticity on the part of both the property and all partners involved in the project.
“On the internet (let alone in the wild west of NFTs), rules of authenticity and fake drool. True collectors, die-hard fans, and long-term investors alike—although they love it when ‘the prices go up’—can find out if a project is just a cash grab or an authentic extension of the artist’s corpus,” he says. “Although not posthumous, Chris Brown’s recent departure is an example of the former. And while it wasn’t a conventional commercial success, I think the recent DECADES retrospective from the David Gahr Archives (nb, I hold one) was done both tastefully and truthfully.”
Recognizing this stark difference, green NFT platform OneOf develops each of their posthumous releases with the same approach: present an authentic reflection and celebration of the artist’s life and work, while providing compelling, one-of-a-kind experiences for fans from all walks of life.
With the release of their latest Notorious BIG NFT collection, all holders are granted the rights to license the audio of Biggie’s Fulton Street Freestyle for use in their own music. Token holders who have never previously been approved for sampling or adaptation can now license and include the audio of Smalls’ classic routine in their own recordings, and even include a “Notorious BIG” credit in the title.
Since the company’s inception in 2021, OneOf has partnered with the estates of global icons like Muhammad Ali and Whitney Houston to honor their legacy in new and exciting ways. In order to be authentic to the late artist, it’s important that the estate be involved in every step of the planning and creative direction, Dai said.
“The ‘Sky’s The Limit’ Collection by Notorious BIG is a 3D generative NFT inspired by Biggie’s life and writing, conceived and painstakingly developed over almost a year, with no detail too small, of every outfit and jewellery down to his facial expressions. ”
Using Social Accounts for NFT Launch
OneOf’s approach and its unique, unparalleled utility stands in stark contrast to the widely criticized Stan Lee drop, which has largely been dismissed as a disingenuous cash grab. Produced by Orange Comet, a company that makes NFTs for brands and sports teams, Lee’s posthumous Chakraverse drop celebrated the release of one of Lee’s new superheroes, “Chakra the Invincible.” The Chakraverse Collection consisted of animated videos, PFPs, 1/1 artwork and mystery boxes that gave bidders access to a collection of surprising NFTs.
A major reason for the backlash was the promotion of the collection directly on Stan Lee’s official Twitter account. The post was heavily split between likes and comments, usually a telltale sign of controversy.
Popular YouTuber Dolan Dark answered: “I can’t believe Stan Lee rose from the dead just to promote an NFT.” This garnered more than 84,000 likes, more than 6x the likes of the original post. Another Twitter user answered: “If you use Stan Lee’s Twitter account to promote an NFT, you will be sent straight to hell.”
Even Dictionary.com got involved in the action, accusing the team behind the project of sullying Stan’s legacy.
While the backlash is understandable given the overly promotional nature of the tweet, some collectors like White have no problem using genuine social accounts, but see their use as a way to avoid fraud and ensure legitimacy. Additionally, White recognized that social media is an essential part of any launch today.
“As our analog and digital worlds increasingly intersect, intersect and even converge, it is vital for artists and their respective estates to meet people where they are,” White said. “It’s both literal and aesthetic; per Marshall McLuhan: “The medium is the message.” So I believe that posthumous collections that honor an artist’s intent and vision while using novel mediums that accentuate the work are a good thing.”
Lisa Teh, co-founder of Web3 marketing agency Mooning, also agreed, citing social channels “as another way for fans to stay connected with their idols, so it makes sense that they embrace this new type of community engagement and reward.” support financially.”
Focus on accessibility and purpose
Along with integrity and authenticity, one of the most important aspects of a posthumous drop is making sure the project gets into the hands of fans who really appreciate it. And since NFT awards often exclude the majority of collectors from participating, accessibility and affordability should be a priority for all founders. This applies not only to pricing, but also to education and onboarding, Dai said.
“To achieve a sense of community, NFTs must be made accessible and affordable so that every fan has the opportunity to participate. We made the conscious decision to price each generative mint at $100 with a $0 gas fee charged to the fan. Also, we’ve built an interface that allows the everyday fans, who may not be crypto experts, to sign up and shop with an email using a credit card, in addition to more sophisticated Web3 tools for purchasing with crypto.”
But besides improving the fan experience, OneOf also sees value in conveying the best wishes from the icons themselves. To further demonstrate this commitment, OneOf always donates a portion of the proceeds from each drop to the artist’s preferred charity. Community members have greatly appreciated this charitable component, with give-back missions becoming a core value pillar of many successful collections, both posthumous and otherwise.
As Web3 and NFTs continue to inherit the cultural zeitgeist, there is no question that we will continue to see real estate experimenting with these new technologies. And controversy will undoubtedly remain. But ultimately, like most art forms, the reception of NFT collections is primarily subjective and can evoke different emotions among fans with different tastes. But post-release, another, perhaps more poignant, question arises: Will these collections hold their value? Finally collector Michael Keenan believes that collections that authentically tell a story will retain their value over time. “I’m more interested in posthumous NFT collectibles or 1:1 pieces that tell a story. You can tell who puts heart and mind into an NFT collection, posthumous or not. Those are the pieces that are worth investing in and holding on to.”