NFTs are to physical art what music streaming is to vinyl records, says a crypto expert who sees a whole new social world for digital collectibles

Digital artist FEWOCiOUS auctions 5 unique NFT works of art, along with 5 physical paintings and drawings in a collection at Christie's in NYC.
Digital artist FEWOCiOUS auctions 5 unique NFT works of art, along with 5 physical paintings and drawings in a collection at Christie’s in NYC.

  • Crypto art is revolutionizing how celebrities showcase and sell their work, says Wave Financial’s cofounder.
  • As vinyl records are to streaming, NFTs are to existing physical art, Les Borsai told Insider.
  • NFT innovation brings better experiences, which means their rise isn’t a bubble, the digital art expert said.
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Crypto art is opening up a whole new world of creativity and promotion for digital artists and entertainers, as physical reality and virtual worlds look poised to become increasingly integrated.

Non-fungible tokens are attracting a wave of celebrities – from pop star Katy Perry to rapper Jay-Z, to billonaire investor Mark Cuban – who recognize the opportunity creating NFTs gives them to reach a new market.

Comparing physical art with digital art is like judging vinyl records against streamed music, said Les Borsai, an NFT expert who has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga and Jason Derulo. One isn’t better than the other.

“They both have benefits I enjoy – streaming gives me ease of access, while my records might give me more of a richness when listening to them,” he told Insider.

NFTs are revolutionizing how artists and content creators showcase and sell their work. They are digital tokens that represent assets such as music and video, as well as virtual paintings and land. Encoded onto a blockchain – the same technology that underpins cryptocurrencies – they carry a digital watermark to demonstrate unique rights to the crypto asset.

They are expected to become an integral part of the tech-investment megatrend of the next decade. The volume of sales for NFTs soared to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, data from analytics company DappRadar showed.

There is more to digital art than just collectibles, Borsai suggests. While critics see the crypto art boom as a craze, he views it as a way for top artists to connect with something cutting-edge.

“As someone that came from entertainment, and loved music that connected to the fringe, I think cryptocurrency and NFTs offer that same connection,” said Borsai, chief strategy officer and cofounder at Wave Financial, a digital asset management firm.

The crypto expert spent a decade in managing recording artists, after which he helped launch startups involved in digital music and cryptocurrency, and began advising blockchain-based digital-payment network Ripple. He was also an early investor in ethereum’s ether.

“The cryptocurrency and NFT communities are a community I can understand,” Borsai said.

“While I never have the skill set to be a coder, I do have the ability to read ‘Snowcrash’ or ‘Neuromancer’ and see the potential of the future in the metaverse,” he added, referring to cyberpunk novels that envisage a shared virtual universe.

As daily lives become more tech-centric, trading digital collectibles has helped enhance and create a more interesting global marketplace. Musicians now understand the range of avenues available to share their work and make money from their careers.

Borsai predicted this trend would usher in a new version of social media in a collective virtual space. “There will be a completely new type of social-media platform built – NFTs will exist in the metaverse,” he said.

Some critics suggest the NFT boom may turn out to be a fad, noting it’s a very new market that many investors don’t understand or know much about. But Borsai argues the innovations at the core of crypto art are creating better experiences for people, and that makes NFTs less likely to be a speculative bubble. He pointed to the sales of digital real estate, for instance. A digital house recently sold for $500,000.

“It’s an interesting thought experiment – who thought digital land would be worth anything three years ago? This is just the beginning,” he said.

Read More: Prominent market bear Albert Edwards warns that investors who prematurely bet on higher inflation are set up for further losses – and lays out the pathway to record-low bond yields

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NFT sales volume soared to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, as artists, celebrities and even Twitter and CNN joined the crypto craze

NFT art
  • NFT sales volume skyrocketed to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, according to DappRadar.
  • Artists, celebrities and organizations like Twitter, CNN and the US Space Force jumped onto the trend.
  • The NFT market has however cooled off since the height of the frenzy in these tokens back in May.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Sales volumes for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) soared to a record $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, according to DappRadar, as artists, celebrities, companies and even government institutions have joined the crypto craze and created a red-hot market for digital tokens.

Digital analytics firm DappRadar, which tracks data on decentralized applications including NFT sales platforms that are based on blockchain networks like ethereum, noted the explosion in growth, particuarly over the last 12 months.

“In 2020, the total amount of volume generated by the NFT collections tracked by DappRadar equaled a staggering $94,862,807. Even more impressive is that by the end of Q2 2021 that figure stands at almost $2.5 billion dollars.”, the company said in a blog post last week.

NFTs are digital tokens that can represent real-life assets such as artworks, music, video, games and even virtual land. Unlike a typical cryptocurrency, they are unique and not interchangeable, much collectible items.

DappRadar’s data shows NFTs started gaining traction in January of this year, before sales volume exploded in March. A major contributor to this boom was the sale of the most expensive NFT ever – a digital artwork by Beeple that was sold for around $69 million by luxury auction house Christie’s that month. The craze continued from there, reaching its peak in early May when NFTs worth $102 million sold in a single day, according to Protos data.

A series of artists, celebrities and organisations have since created and sold the digital tokens. Reddit recently auctioned NFTs featuring it’s mascot for instance, while the US Space Force sold NFTs to commemorate the launch of a vehicle during their GPS Block III mission and Twitter creator Jack Dorsey sold his first ever tweet as an NFT. Existing NFTs, for example a series of collectibles called CryptoPunks, one of which sold for $11.8 million, were also pushed into the spotlight.

NFT prices have dropped since that peak – DappRadar noted that sales volume fell in the second quarter of the year. However, the number of sales per day and active wallets increased, their report found.

“In comparison to Q1, the number of sales spiked by 111.46%, while the daily average of unique wallets increased by 151.86% as well.” it reads.

According to the data platform, the NFT market is shifting from highly priced, individual sales to smaller, more frequent ones as online games which incorporate digital tokens for example become increasingly popular.

“It appears that a wider, more mainstream audience has finally arrived. [ … ] The mass adoption factor is undeniable.” DappRadar’s report said.

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