Ever heard of non-fungible tokens or NFT? It’s a type of data associated with digital files such as photos, videos and audio.
That was what R&B singer Kris Lawrence recently educated every one who attended his Zoom press conference to launch his first NFT.
“Nakaka-miss itong mga ganito,” Lawrence told ABS-CBN News, referring to his virtual meeting with the entertainment press.
“I’ve been doing this new venture, NFT. A lot of our businesses have gone into the metaverse or the crypto space. A lot of things have changed. As an artist, I personally believe that this is where a lot of things are headed.”
NFT is basically a new asset class, as Lawrence pointed out. “We have fungible things like houses, cars, land titles, dollars, currencies. All of those things are fungible.
“Now, there are different things that are one of a kind, like a painting, an art piece, even a movie ticket. They are non-fungible.
“Token in the crypto space is an authenticated document on the blockchain. It’s a piece of art, like music, that is authenticated on the blockchain. We’re using polygon this time. It’s basically a collectible.”
As a musician, Lawrence’s music, once on NFT, will be a collectible. “There have been a lot of artists in the US doing NFTs,” he said. “The amount of money being generated by artists or people doing NFTs, it’s very crazy.
“Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around this concept. There are couple of artists that sold an art piece.
“There are digital art pieces that have sold for $30 or $40 million. NFT is such a really big and new thing. I feel like it’s still kind of limitless.”
The people behind SongRise reached out to Lawrence. “I used to record for my friends in the US who own recording studio,” he shared. “Now, they are doing records for big names – Usher, Chris Brown, DJ Colette.
“One of my friends, Andre Alexander, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. The guy who introduced me to Andre Alexander was Andre Fortieth. Both of these Americans will do a platform, SongRise.
“They don’t want to start with mainstream artists in the US. It’s too big for them. They want to branch out internationally to other artists.”
Lawrence has the privilege of being the inaugural artist, the only Filipino, that SongRise will launch on the platform. “I’m very, very excited about this project. My very first NFT,” Lawrence beamed.
His first song that will go into the process of minting or authentication for the NFT space, is “Future Girl,” penned by Andrew Real and Kuya Productions from Canada. It was officially released on Friday.
“We did a collaboration on that,” Lawrence informed. “We are minting only 250 copies of this NFT. It’s very, very limited. That will probably keep the NFT value scarce and up. It’s authenticated on the blockchain, so it’s basically a collectible.
“There’s a digital art work that goes with the song. Once it gets sold out, the ones who bought the NFT for ‘Future Girl,’ they can resell. Only 250 people will have the minted, authenticated version.
“Once listeners have that minted, authenticated version, they can download it or go to SongRise and view the NFTs on the platform there. Or they can connect it to a crypto-wallet called MetaMask and view the song there.”
Lawrence is amazed at how NFT releases can be very limitless. “I really see this as the future,” he maintained. “This is a new space to me. ‘Future Girl,’ I really love this song. I want to reach out to more people.”
He wants to give NFT a shot by going all in and see how far can he take this. “There are millions and millions of possibilities that are being explored to this day,” he said.
“The way I plan to use this NFT, it there’s someone who will buy in the future, they can even get a discount to my concerts.”
Lawrence is slated to stage a couple of shows in the US in February and March. “They can just show the NFT that they bought with the authentication,” he isaid.
“It can be verified on the data base and check the blockchain. Then they can get 20 percent discount on tickets to my concerts.”
Those who show their NFT purchase can even get 50 percent off from all KL (Kris Lawrence) merchandise.
In case the song doesn’t take off on NFT, Lawrence has a Plan B. “If worse comes to worse, if I don’t create any noise, I can always put the song on Spotify after three months or five months, but I’m going to see this NFT ride for a bit and see where it goes.”
Although definitely hopeful, Lawrence is likewise realistic. “My specific contract with SongRise is non-exclusive,” he disclosed. “I can also release the song on Spotify or Apple Music.”
Apparently, NFT is a new venue for distribution of digital works of artists like Lawrence. As an artist, NFT’s advantage will show Lawrence who his real fans are and prove his engagement to his supporters.
“If someone owns that NFT, then I do something really, really cool. I go to the US and I have a collaboration with Bruno Mars or Beyonce [Knowles], there’s a big possibility that the value of that NFT will shoot up.
“Those people who bought the NFT will make some money. I also see this as hopefully testing the waters of my value as an artist.”
Other local celebrities who have released their NFTs to date are Heart Evangelista and even Senator Manny Pacquiao. Meanwhile, Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Gray are among the iconic beauty queens featured on the Miss Universe NFT.
“There have been a lot of artists in the US doing NFTs,” Lawrence said. “There are a lot of people who are collectors. Anybody who buys an NFT has a collector’s piece. The perk is having an authenticated copy of the song.”
The 36-year-old Lawrence is still doing music the old fashioned way. “I’m still releasing songs,” he said. “I have a couple of collaboration coming up, hopefully with [singer-songwriter] Arthur Nery. We’re in talks right now.
“I have a new cover that’s releasing on February 2, 2022. I did a cover of Regine’s [Velasquez] hit song, ‘Dadalhin.’ I wanted to give my own twist to it.
“I took it as a challenge upon myself. It’s very, very challenging to sing a Regine song. I am also interested to see my own take on ‘Dadalhin.’ So, I took the challenge.”
The ballad was arranged by Bobby Velasco. “For lack of words, the arrangement sounds very, very old,” Lawrence commented. “It sounds very vintage. Bruno Mars-type.”
Songwriting is not Lawrence’s forte, although he has dabbled into writing songs. “If I reach out to songwriters, they submit songs to me. There are a lot of better writers out there. Better than me.
“At first, I wanted to have that pride of writing this song. I can tap on better songwriters, producers who can do the job better than me. At the end of the day, I try to focus on my craft which is singing.”
He has a timeline of about five songs that are to be released this year through Spotify and iTunes. End of February, he will also record an EP (extended play) in the US, with long-time friends Jay-R and Billy Crawford.
“The way it looks, we’re going to try to be some sort of a boy band-ish,” Lawrence said. “We are going to release a couple of songs together.”
Aware about their respective accomplishments in their careers in the local entertainment scene, Lawrence thought it will be nice to come together and finally collaborate on one solid project and release materials for the international market.
“For the three of us, it will be a nice Soul Brothers project and release stuff for an international album,” Lawrence maintained.
As far as his personal life is concerned, Lawrence unabashedly admitted he’s getting old and a partner in life needs to be seriously considered.
He is happy with his co-parenting duties with actress Katrina Halili, the mother of his firstborn, nine-year-old Katie. “I think she’s [Katrina] happy right now. If she’s happy, then I’m happy. She was on the phone in El Nido. We talk occasionally.”
His second child is two-year-old Lyric, with a non-showbiz girl, but has since separated from her.
“My lifestyle has changed a lot over the past four years,” Lawrence disclosed. “My life has become so boring. I don’t eat meat anymore. I still eat fish. I’m 90 percent vegetarian. I only eat chicken twice a month.
“I notice that as I got older, I got boring. So whoever will become my ‘Future Girl,’ also needs to adjust to my diet.
“Kung sino man ‘yun, sana mahanap ko soon. Matanda na tayo. It will be nice to find someone who can take care of me, cook for me. It will be nice to finally settle down.”