John Legend’s New NFT Project: What You Need to Know

Woman listening to music through headphones.

Image source: Getty Images

Grammy-award winning singer songwriter John Legend is turning his hand to the non-fungible token (NFT) market with the launch of a new music platform called OurSong. NFTs are digital blockchain certificates of ownership that are gaining traction in various industries, from art to music.

Legend is the cofounder and Chief Impact Officer for OurSong, a platform that promises to make NFTs more accessible and more equitable. OurSong is a mobile app that works on Android and iOS devices but is not designed for web browsers.

“I helped found OurSong because I believe NFTs can change the way creators are discovered, improve how they serve their biggest fans, and reshape the industry as a whole,” said Legend in a press release. “That starts with building a platform that serves all creators, whether they have one hundred fans or one hundred thousand.”

Here are three things you need to know about OurSong:

1. Its NFTs are called Vibes

OurSong NFTs are called Vibes. The platform wants to help artists generate income from their work in a more equitable way. Musicians can control how many Vibes they release, and also create cover art for their music. Some artists might decide to connect their Vibe to a specific chat room or add extra features such as specific audio and video content.

Part of the idea behind the platform is to promote social engagement through chat rooms and clubs. Creators can use the platform to build communities around their art. Users can also gain access to special VIP spaces on the site through digital cards.

2. You don’t need a crypto wallet

The NFT marketplace can be confusing and difficult for beginner investors to access. For a start, you’ll need an external crypto wallet to access most platforms. You’ll also need to own cryptocurrency — usually Ethereum (ETH) as many NFTs are minted on its blockchain. OurSong wants to remove this barrier to entry.

You can deposit U.S. dollars directly onto the platform. OurSong converts this into its own token called the OurSong Dollar (OSD) which you can use to buy Vibes.

  • You can only trade Vibes with OSD. Each OSD is worth $1, and OurSong works with Circle to manage user deposits. One thing that isn’t clear from OurSong’s terms of service is how it will ensure one OSD is always worth $1. But hopefully this is also managed by Circle. Circle created USDC, a major stablecoin that’s pegged to the U.S. dollar.
  • You will need to complete the system’s know-your-customer (KYC) verification to deposit money via credit or debit card, and to make withdrawals. You can carry out some transactions on the platform without KYC, but it’s advisable to jump through the hoops from the outset. It can take seven to 10 work days to verify an account.
  • The service isn’t available in all U.S. states. Residents of New York, Minnesota, Hawaii, and Alaska cannot use the platform.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t log into your account for a while, the company can claim your money as “unclaimed property.” It may also deduct a dormancy fee and other charges.

3. There are lots of music NFT platforms

According to music business site, Water & Music, there are over 50 music platforms on the market and more arrive every day. It says some are scams, and several use partnerships with high-profile artists to improve their reputation. With such a proliferation of sites, it’s a good idea to understand what might happen to any NFTs you’ve bought if a platform fails — as many will.

NFTs could have a positive impact on the music industry. For example, they could help musicians change their relationships with record labels and earn more for their work. It could also open the way for more collaboration. But this is a new space, and both creators and buyers need to be aware of the risks.

NFT music is evolving

The NFT market has grown dramatically in a short amount of time, and it’s worth doing your due diligence before depositing money with a new platform. Look at how they will store your money and NFTs, how they protect your data, and what processes are in place to protect copyright.

Here are some issues for investors to watch out for:

  • Copyright infringement. Just weeks before OurSong launched, another music NFT platform called HitPiece was shut down. Users could turn any song into an NFT, without the original artist’s permission.
  • Hacking and other scams. As the NFT industry has grown, platforms have been increasingly targeted by criminals. Most recently, hackers stole $1.7 million from OpenSea users in a phishing scam.
  • Environmental costs. Many NFTs are minted on the Ethereum network, which has a huge carbon footprint. There are more sustainable options, but it’s a good idea to check how your NFTs are being minted if you’re concerned about the environmental cost.

As with many things in the crypto world, don’t sign up to a project just because there’s a celebrity involved. In the case of OurSong, it has some interesting features, but the verification process was time consuming. Some of the site’s help pages are in Chinese as are many of its users, so it wasn’t easy to find out what security measures it has in place, or how its OurSong Dollar is backed.

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Emma Newbery owns Ethereum.

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