“Anyone who knew him knows he would have been one of the first adopters of Web 3.0,” says the icon’s longtime business manager.
One of the first musicians to understand how much the Internet might alter the music industry and perhaps allow artists more control over their own work was David Bowie. The singer’s estate now has plans to sell some of the original NFTs to a legendary legacy act after his 2016 passing.
The David Bowie Estate today revealed that “Bowie on the Blockchain,” a sale of NFTs produced by various musicians, will debut on September 13. The estate’s revenues will be donated to CARE, the humanitarian organization for whom Bowie’s widow Iman serves as a global spokesperson, through the sale on the online NFT marketplace OpenSea. The NFT sale was created in cooperation with We Love the Arts and film producer Joaquin Acrich, and the artists pertained comprise FEWOCiOUS, JAKE, and Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot.
“There was a huge visual component to everything Bowie did, and he was a painter and an art collector,” says Andrew Keller, co-founder of We Love The Arts, as well as an artist manager and former label executive. “So this is about going into this space and engaging with NFT artists in their world.”
Keller claims that all of the artists were given the chance to utilize materials from Bowie’s collection to that goal.
“The idea that the artists of today, utilizing the latest technology, were influenced even in the least by David would have made him as proud as anything he would have created on his own,” said Bill Zysblat, Bowie’s longtime business manager, in a statement to Billboard. “And anyone who knew him knows he would have been one of the first adopters of Web 3.0.”
In fact, Bowie co-founded the Internet service provider BowieNet in 1998, and on the website Bowieart.com he first showcased his own artwork and later that of others. Additionally, he thought that the rise of digital media would increase the chances for artists to work on their own terms, own their own creations, and profit from them. Although this NFT project does not appear to contain many publishing or recorded music rights, Bowie’s estate sold his publishing catalog to Warner Chappell late last year.
Music NFTs experienced a decrease this spring after a brief period of growth due to the fall in value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.In contrast to the “Bowie on the Blockchain” , the majority of music NFTs to date have not included prominent figures in the realm of visual art. “This was about engaging with the NFT artists in their world,” Keller says. “We didn’t want this to be anything other than creating something important.”
Most EDM DJs, hip-hop artists, or pop stars have thus far produced the majority of music NFTs; very few legacy acts have even dabbled in the concept. Bowie will be among the first, even though he is a desirable candidate because to his avant-garde sensibilities and connections in the art world.
Despite being entirely original and made as a tribute to Bowie, the NFTs themselves are as varied as the artists that made them. A seven-foot-tall statue of Bowie fashioned of wire, cardboard, and Styrofoam by NFT artist FEWOCiOUS, who has sold works of visual art for millions of dollars, includes a foam Mars rock that is also exists on the blockchain. A 1990s outfit and a pair of Bowie’s painted Levi’s that FEWOCiOUS acquired from the singer’s estate are worn by the sculpture.
“A lot of people see NFTs as just digital but I wanted to make this with my hands, a sculpture that’s connected to a picture so it can live in real life and on the Internet,” FEWOCiOUS says. “I don’t think a lot of people are exploring the physical and the NFT.”
If “Bowie on the Blockchain” is successful, it might encourage other legacies and estates to investigate related concepts. “I hope it will encourage artists to do more with Web3,” FEWOCiOUS says. “A lot of artists see it as just another business avenue.”