Brian Eno on NFTs: “I Mainly See Hustlers Looking for Suckers”

Brian Eno NFT Comments

Photo Credit: Kirsten Holst

Producer and songwriter Brian Eno gave us the genre of ambient music. He says NFTs are “hustlers looking for suckers.”

A recent interview with the legendary artist caught his thoughts on growing trends in the music industry. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have taken off in a big way in 2021 – with artists embracing ‘golden ticket‘ style benefits for fans and traditional art auctions. Eno says he believes crypto solutions in the music industry are a set of solutions looking for a problem to solve.

“I am not sure what is being brought into the world that makes any difference to anything other than some strings of numbers moving about in some bank accounts. I want to know what is changing, what is being made different, what is helping, what is moving? I don’t see any answers to that question,” Eno says.

When asked why he hasn’t participated in the NFT explosion, Brian Eno says he hasn’t seen anything worth doing.

“I’ve been approached several times to ‘make an NFT.’ So far nothing has convinced me that there is anything worth making in that arena. Worth making for me implies bringing something into existence that adds value to the world, not just to a bank account. If I had primarily wanted to make money I would have had a different career as a different kind of person.”

“I wish I could have a more positive view right now, but I mainly see hustlers looking for suckers,” Brian Eno says. “And lots of bright-eyed artists willing to play the latter role. Forgive my cynicism; I’m not feeling too positive right now.”

Eno might be right to be skeptical about NFTs being a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. Web3 technologies like blockchain are supposed to be disruptors – but is that really a good thing? Some of the platforms we associate with web 2.0 like Spotify, DoorDash, Uber, and Airbnb haven’t been the boons to their respective industries that many people had hoped.

Spotify made music much more accessible, but artists themselves get paid fractions of a penny for their music. The same is true for drivers of services like DoorDash and Uber. Airbnb hosts are having to contend with brand-new regulations surrounding their short-term rentals – so it’s naive to believe that NFT technology won’t come with basic hiccups, too.

2 Responses

  1. Blobbo

    I’m not a big fan of crypto as an investment, though I would be rich if I had been five years ago.

    However, I think NFTs are VERY useful for artists. They establish a set encrypted ID number associated with a piece of artwork. Artists can use this to get a piece of future sales if they want, which is a brand new concept. It also makes the notion of a ripoff gallerist never paying the artist impossible. It also removes ripoff gallerists as the middlemen if so desired. You can sell the NFT of the graphic but still throw in a hard copy as part of the deal.

    In music, there are plenty of uses also. NFTs allow the sale of second-tier material to true fans.

    I assume Brian Eno may or may not be aware of all this. Of course, the entire system is reliant on its not being able to be hacked, and that seems pretty questionable. Regardless, the concept does have merits to me, and as I said, I don’t believe much in the financials advantages of crypto, unless you’re a criminal.