- 04 Feb 22
Charles Hendy from The Mary Wallopers gives his take on HitPiece.com to Hot Press.
In a bizarre turn of events, musicians around the world were surprised to discover their music was apparently being sold as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) on the website hitpiece.com earlier this week.
Many of the artists affected had no prior knowledge before finding out, either through word of mouth or on social media.
It later became apparent that using Spotify's API system, the website had listed images of album artwork from singles and LPs as NFTs available for auction on the website.
After mass public backlash from artists and fans alike, hitpiece.com was quickly altered to give a "Page Not Found" message on their home page the following day and later replaced it with the sentence: "We started the conversation and we're listening."
The company, founded by former indie label owner Rory Felton, issued another statement via Twitter the next day:
"Clearly we have struck a nerve and are very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans. To be clear artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece.
We are continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels and fans alike."
They then later told the American magazine Billboard that "the ability of artists or owners to be paid is a functionality that HitPiece is developing."
HitPiece also said that they "never used or sold any copyright music without permission and [HitPiece] will not do so."
"The metaverse is a new frontier, and HitPiece allows users to create a digital display of album artwork associated with their favorite music, with a one-of-a-kind, non-fungible token (NFT) of the artwork. HitPiece’s mission is to create a fun experience in the metaverse for music fans and a new revenue stream for artists and owners.”
Charles Hendy, member of the Irish trad trio The Mary Wallopers (one of the acts affected), sat down with Hot Press to give his take on the whole incident and the potential future of NFTs in music.
When you first heard that it looked like your music was being sold on the website as NFTs, how did you feel?
Well, pissed off, but we were kind of laughing about it because it was so brazen.
One of our friends sent us a message and then I went onto the website and saw that they were selling them for the bare minimum of $100 a piece, it was just so cheeky to take your music. Especially because the whole point of an NFT is that's an original piece.
It's like they were trying to take the original thing and sell it. The fact that they didn't even email us about it [before it happened], is crazy.
It seems like most artists had a similar or the exact same experience, none of them knew beforehand and either saw it on Twitter or were texted by a friend about it.
It was someone trying to make a quick bit of money, a scam. I couldn't believe my eyes but I was kinda laughing at it as well because there was no way they were getting away with it.
HitPiece's website now states "We started the conversation and we're listening." What do you make of that and their apology on Twitter?
Total bollocks. You can't turn around and say "We didn't know what we were doing", they did know what they were doing. They just didn't think they'd get caught.
An apology is when you're actually sorry about something. They're sorry because they got caught.
Would you be wary of new businesses doing something similar in the future?
It could happen, it's not a huge worry of mine because that was caught so quickly, but I wouldn't be too worried about it anyway because NFTs are such a new thing.
Whatever way the music industry is gonna go in the future is gonna be interesting and in some ways, the use of NFTs could put power back into the hands of artists. I know people are going crazy about them, saying they're horrible things, but if it takes any power from record companies, that's probably a good thing.
The music industry is going through so much change at the moment, it's hard to know what is going to happen. Personally, I think the future is crowdfunding, Patreon and other stuff like that.
In a way, it's like NFTs, because you're offering your fans exclusive things if they can help you out. Even with our live streams, it's a way to keep stuff free for everyone, for people that can't afford it, and then the people that can afford to pay, can do so.
The Mary Wallopers have a number of dates lined up for their 2022 tour, with the full list below:
March 3 - Empire Music Hall, Belfast
March 14 - Oran Mor, Glasgow
March 15 - Oran Mor, Glasgow
March 17 - Vicar Street, Dublin
April 1 - Roisin Dubh, Galway
April 2 - Roisin Dubh, Galway
April 17 - Vicar Street, Dublin
August 9 - Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow
Tickets are on sale now here.