Several well-known figures in music, entertainment and sports are putting $1 million into NFT business ideas in a new contest called NFTs: The Pitch.
Guy Oseary, Madonna’s long-time manager and a frequent investor, will be joined by actor-investor Ashton Kutcher; Dallas Mavericks owner and investor in the TV show Shark Tank, Mark Cuban; and rapper Snoop Dogg. In addition, NFT innovators Whale Shark, Metakovan and 3LAU are also judges.
The contest will consider any idea or existing product, says Oseary, who invests in startups with Kutcher through their venture fund, Sound Ventures.
“Someone might have a little bit of financing. They may have a deck. They may have an idea scribbled on a napkin. In order to support the ecosystem, it’s not just going to the top,” he notes. “You’ve got to support the little guys, too.”
Without giving specifics, Oseary says he has already invested in “a lot of the greatest NFT platforms on the marketplace.”
Applications are open from Monday (April 5) to April 12. Finalists will be notified on April 16. Then on April 21, 30 finalists will join the judges for virtual pitch sessions. Some number of winners will share a pot of about $1 million; the size of investments and terms given will vary.
NFTs are “non-fungible” tokens — unique, unlike a cryptocurrency or fiat currency — that have been attached to digital goods such as visual artwork and digital trading cards. Eye-popping sums raised by musicians such as Deadmau5, Shawn Mendes, Grimes and 3LAU, who made $11.6 million from 33 NFTs, have created a level of hype not seen since Bitcoin exploded into popular consciousness in 2017. Other artists quickly piled into NFTs — among them Kings of Leon and The Weekend — by selling such items as audio-visual works and digital artwork on platforms such as OpenSea, Rarible and Nifty Gateway.
A key difference between an NFT and a physical item is the data that’s permanently stamped onto the former. When an artist mints an NFT, they embed data into a “smart contract” that dictates the amount an artist will receive when the NFT is resold. In this way, NFTs are “the exact opposite” of the current trend of artists “selling off their life’s work, which is just ridiculous,” says Oseary, referring to the current trend of songwriters selling their catalogs to a new generation of well-funded investors such as Hipgnosis and Round Hill. A songwriter might get a handsome payday today, but they won’t share in any profits if the investor sells their catalog at a gain.
Fortunately for artists, says Oseary, NFTs and smart contracts have “normalized the idea of taking care of artists in the future. That’s what I love about it, that it’s not even questioned.”