“What is an NFT?” asked the NFT platform for the millionth time.

We’re not particularly fond of beating dead horses but the answer(s) to that question continues to evolve and intrigue us. With the march towards mainstream adoption of NFTs pressing on, we’re looking at its application within the music industry, particularly with one of South Africa’s most highly regarded and celebrated rappers, ANATII.

Before we pat ourselves on the back for launching the first-ever music NFT through, we need to examine how one of South Africa’s biggest talents went all-in on Web3. Buckle up.

After a four-year hiatus, many fans speculated the artist had turned his back on music. On June 13, Anatii announced that all of his solo albums had been removed from streaming services. He followed up by tweeting “time for creators to take control. sell art not your soul.”.

All very cryptic. With fans scratching their heads, looking for answers, he sparked even more intense social media speculation when he tweeted “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT IN 3HRS #PUNISHER”. And so, the stage was set, Anatii returned from his musical absence with his new single, ‘PUNISHER’. In innovative, true trailblazing fashion, he becomes the first South African musician to release a song as an NFT.

The arrival of Web2 changed the way we connected with artists and listened to their music. The mighty compact disc had reigned supreme for decades with ABBA’s 1982 album The Visitors becoming one of the first albums to be pressed onto CD format. And much like video killing the radio, streaming decimated CD sales. Trailblazers such as Napster and LimeWire emerged at the tail end of the 20th century before being tied up in more lawsuits than Theranos and promptly fading away, paving the way for platforms such as Apple Music, Soundcloud, and Spotify.

With this new status quo well and truly established, you’ll have a hard time finding someone without either a Spotify or Apple Music subscription (we won’t judge if you use Apple Music). But all is not well in the world of streaming. The relationship between musicians and streaming platforms is a difficult one to define. Countless artists are openly critical of streaming services, conversely, many musicians can attribute their success largely to streaming.

According to older, wiser folk, money is the root of all evil and the rift between musicians and streaming platforms is no different. Speaking in a 2014 billboard interview, The Black Keys drummer, Patrick Carney said “My whole thing about music is: if somebody’s making money then the artist should be getting a fair cut of it. The owner of Spotify is worth something like 3 billion dollars…he’s richer than Paul McCartney and he’s 30 and he’s never written a song.”

Money doesn’t quite paint the full picture. Music, after all, is an art and in 2014 after big hitter, Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify saying “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable." Anatii seemed to echo that sentiment when he explained his reasoning for removing his music from streaming platforms. The rapper explained that “I had to remove the music from the streaming platforms in order to make a statement for creators within our space.”

Blockchain technology is turning into a powerful tool for artists. We discussed smart contracts and how they can enable true ownership and control over royalties.

What that leaves us with is an opportunity for artists to take back control of their art. On their terms. For Anatii, this meant working with to release his new single ‘PUNISHER’ as an NFT, an 888-piece collection complete with a bespoke landing page and artwork - yeah, we’re nice like that. It’s apt then that ‘PUNISHER’ exists as a symbol of detachment from the status quo and paving a new way of creating and identifying one's worth.

And now, for the pat on the back.

Innovations from artists such as Anatii are exactly why we love Web3 and want to build a platform that will empower both creators and collectors. Anatii’s NFT stands as an excellent case study when looking at the power of NFTs to bring a creator and their community closer together. There was considerable fanfare when Anatii’s “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT IN 3HRS #PUNISHER” tweet was in fact a Twitter Space hosted by the rapper and with his community flocking to the digital chatroom for a chance to discuss the upcoming release, as well as having their burning questions answered by co-founders Kam and Zack.

We’re pretty convinced the story doesn’t end here for artists. Will we see more musicians turn their backs on streaming giants such as Spotify and look to Web3 for true ownership over their music?

We guess you’ll have to stay tuned.

Revolutions are the instruments of change; sign up on now and join the millions of creators, collectors, and curators who are on this journey with you.

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