Crypto currencies are starting to cause music with environmentalists.

By Hal Fish: Music Columnist

On the 26th of March, the Gorillaz announced they would be selling a non-fungible token (NFT) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album.  The news did not go down well with fans.

Why? Well, it’s best to start by describing what an NFT actually is.

NFT’s are digital tokens.  They can be a piece of art, an image, a gif, or even an actual video clip.  Non-fungible means not interchangeable, so the idea is that they exist as an original piece of memorabilia owned by a fan – just like with real art, there won’t be another true copy.

Within the world of sport, the concept is already quite popular.  The NBA look to have been the quickest off the mark when it comes to spotting the financial potential of NFT trading cards.  Thousands of dollars are already being spent on sport-related NFTs: one which depicted a LeBron James dunk recently sold for $208,000 (USD).

Incidentally, the Gorillaz are not the first musicians to delve into this new world of trading. When the Kings of Leon became the first band to a release a new album as an NFT, they reportedly grossed more than $2 million (USD) in sales. The likes of Aphex Twin, Grimes, Post Malone, and many others have also made moves within the marketplace, releasing their own NFTs in the past few months.

So what’s the big issue? Why were fans so upset with the Gorillaz trying to get in on the act?

“When Kings of Leon became the first band to release an album as an nft, they reportedly grossed more than $2M”

The problem is that NFT are not remotely environmentally friendly. They require a colossal amount of energy to produce. The Mackayan recently wrote about the harmful effect streaming music has on our planet, and now the industry seems to have found a new potential hazard in the form of these digital tokens.

According to a report by Wired, cryptocurrency website Nifty Gateway (the premier marketplace for NFTs) used up 8.7 megawatts of energy – which is similar to how much electricity one household uses in a year – when active for just ten seconds. This figure shows the concept is producing a considerable carbon footprint.

Aphex Twin came into criticism after selling an art piece as an NFT, and consequently promised to “spend a portion of the money on planting trees and either donating to permaculture projects or setting them up ourselves”.

A band like the Gorillaz – who have always come across as a progressive, forward-thinking, collective – should be aware of the harmful implications of NFTs. The irony is, one of the band’s most popular albums, Plastic Beach, explored the topic of environmentalism and the devastation of the planet over a decade ago.

It feels as if NFT’s are on the precipice of truly entering mainstream pop-culture. Their impact on the environment could be catastrophic if bands as big as the Gorillaz continue to endorse and create these digital tokens.

For the sake of the planet, let’s hope this new trend does not catch on.

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