On Tuesday, it was discovered that a website called HitPiece appeared to be selling music as NFTs without permission from the artists. Throughout the course of the day, musicians in our community were searching and often finding their entire discographies listed, with active NFT sales appearing to take place. A social-media firestorm ensued.
Today, the website is empty, except for the message:
Hoo-boy. Where to start here.
NFTs are a deeply-divisive topic in our community. Some artists have embraced them and have created some stunning and original works of digital art to sell. Many other artists reject NFTs outright and want nothing at all to do with them, citing a number of valid concerns. What I think everyone can agree on is that every artist should have the right to form their opinion and decide for themselves whether or not to get involved with NFTs.
When I found that HitPiece was listing eighteen of Coraspect’s releases on their site, I tried to find a way to report the listings, and found none. I looked for a contact link on the website and found none. I contacted our attorney to let her know, prepared a DMCA letter in case it would be needed, and then I reached out to HitPiece’s Twitter account as well as to the owners themselves, indicating that we had found our albums being offered for sale and wanted to know how to have them removed. We received no response.
By Tuesday evening, the site was reporting a 404 error. By morning, it was replaced with the message cited above.
If the stated goal of your new online venture is to connect artists with their fans, then the inclusion of artists to the conversation should begin before the website goes live, not afterward.
Among other things:
- Artists should be assured that the inclusion of their material on the site is their decision to make.
- The terms of an NFT sale, and what rights that sale transfers to the buyer, need to be spelled out in plain English and the buyer needs to agree to those terms before making the purchase; for example: “This sale does not transfer intellectual property rights to the purchaser, nor does it grant permission for the purchaser to reproduce and sell copies.”
- The site should provide the ability for the owner of a work of art to report unauthorized listings.
- The site should provide the ability for an artist to block their name on the site to prevent unauthorized postings by others.
I do sincerely hope that the owners of HitPiece are listening, as this was an incredible fumble on their part which has not scored them any points, especially not with artists. Yes, listening is important. Conversations are even more important. HitPiece claims they “started the conversation,” but with whom? If they are indeed serious about bringing artists and their fans together, it would seem that artists should have been invited to participate in that “conversation.” By not doing so, they have very likely turned off a lot of artists who may have previously been on the fence about NFTs.
Coraspect made the decision a while ago not to get involved with NFTs, so finding eighteen of our releases listed on HitPiece did not sit well with us at all. We do sincerely hope that they’re listening.