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Musicians Rage at NFT Site Auctioning Songs Without Permission

Sadie Dupuis and Jack Antonoff, both of whom criticized NFT platform HitPiece. Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by Getty Images

Don’t worry, your favorite indie band didn’t get into selling NFTs overnight. A new NFT platform called HitPiece has caught heat from a number of musicians — largely indie bands — for selling NFTs of their music without permission. Per a description on its website that has since been taken down, “HitPiece lets fans collect NFTs of your favorite songs.” What that seemed to mean in practice was music was available on HitPiece, like a streaming service, to be turned into NFTs without consent from musicians. (To backtrack: An NFT, or nonfungible token, is a unique electronic thing that exists on the blockchain, which is what also powers cryptocurrency.) As NFTs have gained traction in the music and art communities over the past several months, many have criticized them for negatively impacting the environment via the blockchain and just not making sense.

Which brings us to Tuesday, when dozens of artists weren’t too happy to find out their music was on HitPiece. “hey you stupid fucks @joinhitpiece we don’t have any deal with you or any NFT site and there SURE DOES LOOK like an active auction going on for a speedy ortiz song,” tweeted Sadie Dupuis of the band Speedy Ortiz. Singer-songwriter Ted Leo called the site “bottom feeding scavengers of late capitalism sucking the last marrow from our bones,” while Jack Antonoff called any Bleachers NFTs “bullshit.” Other artists took aim at the site’s functionality, including producer A-Trak, who tweeted, “I can’t seem to find a way to hear the music and/or buy their tokens etc,” and called HitPiece “a scammy beta demo.” Multiple artists said on Twitter that they had reached out to lawyers to send cease-and-desist letters to HitPiece while raising questions about how the site fit into their distribution agreements (which allow music to appear on authorized streaming services like Spotify). Other artists who criticized the site include Muna, clipping., and Adult Mom.

In a since-deleted tweet replying to Nat Puff, who performs as Left at London, HitPiece insisted, “Your music isn’t on our site, nor do we stream music.” Later Tuesday night, the site issued a Notes App statement, saying that “artists get paid” for sales on HitPiece and that the site is “committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels, and fans alike.” “Clearly we have struck a nerve,” the platform understated the issue. By Wednesday, all information had been taken off the HitPiece website and replaced with the message, “We Started the Conversation and We’re Listening.” Well, sorry to all the fans who were looking forward to the “access and experiences” HitPiece promised from its NFTs.

Musicians Rage at NFT Site Listing Songs Without Permission