Our Lady Peace releasing album as an NFT is a 'chance for another business shift where the creators are rewarded': Raine Maida
Award-winning rock band Our Lady Peace is releasing their latest album as a non-fungible token (NFT) on Oct. 30 — becoming the first artists in Canadian history ever to do so.
The band, which formed in Toronto in 1992, has seen multiple hits across the world, and remains one of the best-selling Canadian ensembles of all time.
Their latest and 10th studio album, dubbed Spiritual Machines 2, will be a thematic sequel to the double-platinum certified Spiritual Machines from 2000.
Before the new album is widely released, it will be available exclusively for two months in the form of an NFT — a unique cryptocurrency unit that operates on a transparent blockchain; which means anyone can see the details of an authentic transaction, but unlike Bitcoin, it is not interchangeable and is a completely one-of-a-kind digital asset.
In an interview, Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida explained how the release of his band’s latest album as an NFT is "the most perfect love letter that could ever be written to our fans and listeners.”
He said the timing was serendipitous because Spiritual Machines 2 is a 15-track record that can best be described as “future rock,” conceptually continuing the legacy of its predecessor, with both albums based on futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil's prophetic 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines.
“I appreciate technology as much as I love music, and I really think there’s a paradigm shift happening with blockchain because I feel like it allows us so much more to directly connect and communicate with our fans through our songs,” Maida said.
“Blockchain is putting value back into the actual music and how music is a utility that connects communities, which was lost for so long and especially once the advent of streaming came around.”
BAND MANAGERS: ‘HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS?’
NFTs are relatively new technology, which saw public interest rise only earlier this year.
The digital currency can be beneficial for artists because it allows them to give a rightful owner a guaranteed file that can be presented, accessed or resold — with a percentage cut of any profits able to be set aside for creators as a royalty of sorts.
However, like other speculative collectibles, such as paintings, the value of an NFT can easily become subjective and therefore fluctuate much like stocks.
For example, American rock band Kings of Leon was able to generate over US$2 million in sales when they became the first global artists to release an album as an NFT earlier this year. Since then, artists like Eminem and Lil Pump have dropped singles as NFTs, but no one else has released a complete album in the cryptocurrency format again.
That's why when Maida came to his business managers with the idea of using the cryptocurrency to debut and sell the band’s latest album, they were left dumbfounded.
“All I kept thinking was, well, damn it — how are we going to do this?” said Eric Lawrence of Toronto-based Coalition Music, management for Our Lady Peace.
“What we decided to do in that moment was exactly how I view our side of the music industry best: I’m going to let you be the best bus driver to your own bus as an artist, and all I can do is try to make sure you don’t fall off a cliff.”
COST OF A 'GRAND EXPERIMENT'
Lawrence said letting the NFT release stand on its own without being part of a planned and rehearsed album schedule “just wouldn’t be feasible or viable.”
“That’s why every single thing needed to work in its favour and for that statement to shine, or else it would all become pretty much disjointed,” he said.
On Saturday, along with the NFT launch, Our Lady Peace will perform at the El Mocambo in downtown Toronto — which itself will act as a grand reopening for the live music venue that once saw the likes of Marilyn Monroe, The Rolling Stones, U2, Blondie and Bon Jovi.
“It’s been incredibly interesting and exciting in so many ways… Of course, we’ve had to quickly get used to explaining to people like our record-company partners and distributors about how it all works though,” Lawrence said.
Maida said he understands that “it’s going to take a minute for people to get it” or get on board with the idea of buying records as NFTs.
The NFT release of Spiritual Machines 2 is limited to 500 copies. And the price is, of course, like most NFTs, negotiable — something Maida’s a bit concerned about, since a bulk of his listeners will have to wait until January 2022 to hear the new music.
“But someone has to be first with this sort of thing,” he said. “I won’t call myself a pioneer, definitely more of a guinea pig. After all, it is a grand experiment that we’re doing here.”