Digital art

Company with Boise ties angers music world with NFT model

A company with Boise ties tried to sell NFTs of songs without asking permission of the artists.

A company with Boise ties tried to sell NFTs of songs without asking permission of the artists.

smiller@idahostatesman.com

A new online platform co-founded by a Boise businessman has come under fire from musicians across the country for attempting to sell nonfungible tokens of songs without permission.

Nonfungible tokens, commonly known as NFTs, are pieces of online digital art often auctioned off and sold for high-dollar figures. Hitpiece, which is based in Provo, Utah, has said its business model is to sell NFTs of songs, from which artists would then receive royalty payments.

The platform also has a Treasure Valley connection, with co-founder Rory Felton living in Boise. In a Jan. 24 interview with Business Builders, a business-focused podcast that recently did an episode on Boise, Felton said he moved from California to the City of Trees in January 2021.

Felton said in the podcast that Hitpiece is meant to be a gateway for people to enter the NFT market, and that the company uses Spotify’s programming interface for the NFTs. Fans could purchase and assemble a list of artists of their favorite songs, and would receive royalty payments, he said.

“It’s the mission of the company to help artists create a billion dollars, and I think we can get there,” Felton said.

Felton did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Many musicians took to social media Wednesday to say that they had not been contacted by Hitpiece for their music to be included on the platform and sold as a nonfungible token. They included such indie artists as Eve 6, Deerhoof, Jack Antonoff of the band Bleachers and Speedy Ortiz. Some said they had no idea their songs had become NFTs until seeing them being auctioned on the platform.

Hitpiece issued a statement on social media Wednesday saying artists are getting paid for any NFTs sold. But some bands said Hitpiece’s lack of communication created doubt that they would get paid.

“They steal your music, auction NFTs of it on their site and when they get caught they say don’t worry you ‘get paid,’ ” the band Deerhoof said Wednesday on Twitter. “I get that corporate types are simply greedy and cruel on principle, but what kind of mind could even imagine that double-talk like this could somehow make it OK?”

Following the outcry, Hitpiece has taken down any NFTs for sale from its website and replaced them with a message: “We started the conversation and we’re listening.”

It was not immediately clear Wednesday what the price of the NFTs were or how many had been sold.

This story was originally published February 2, 2022 2:41 PM.

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Joni Auden Land covers Boise, Garden City and Ada County. Have a story suggestion or a question? Email Land at jaland@idahostatesman.com.

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