New Muse Album Will Be First NFT to Impact UK, Australian Music Charts – Billboard

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LONDON — For the first time, NFT sales may have a real impact on a national music chart. Muse will release an NFT version of their ninth studio album, Will of the People, on Aug. 26 that will be eligible for inclusion in the U.K. and Australian charts.

The collection of 1,000 NFTs will be released through a Web3 platform called Serenade, which claims to have developed the first chart-eligible NFT format. Serenade’s founder and CEO Max Shand calls it a “Digital Pressing” and likens it to “premium vinyl for the web.”

Speaking to Billboard, Shand explains that the product is carefully crafted to fit the U.K. Official Charts Company’s (OCC) new criteria. “For a Digital Pressing to be included in the charts, all of the bonus rewards need to be connected to the music. This means that artwork, imagery and video clips are suitable for inclusion if they improve the storytelling potential of the record.”

Extravagant extras, however, would violate the rules as they might manipulate sales. “Tickets, merchandise, and access to exclusive artist real estate would render the Digital Pressing ineligible for inclusion in the charts,” Shand clarifies.

For that reason, Muse’s NFT collection is not as flashy as many others — or even the band’s last drop via Nifty Gateway of audiovisual NFTs based on their 2019 album Simulation Theory. It comes with alternative album artwork, downloadable FLAC files and a digital signature from the band members.

The whole thing operates in an “eco-friendly” way because Serenade uses Polygon — a so-called “layer two” solution built on top of Ethereum. In simplified terms, Polygon executes lots of transactions very efficiently, then batches them up and sends them back to the Ethereum blockchain for security. The result is faster, more efficient transactions with a lower environmental impact.

Serenade is the first major platform to capitalize on recent changes to the U.K. charting rules that allow for NFT releases. Shand said his platform, which previously facilitated NFT drops from The Brits, is the only licensed vendor to produce chart-eligible digital pressings but he’s looking forward to others embracing a similar model.

The OCC did approve an NFT release by British band The Amazons for chart inclusion earlier this year. However, the organization clarified that this release did not make it onto the chart, and Muse’s Will of the People — released by Warner Records and the band’s own Helium-3 label — is the first that is likely to have an impact.

This new innovation may change the shape of the British charts in the coming years. There have been many weeks where chart positions were decided by only a small number of units. In January 2022, only 400 sales separated Years & Years and Yard Act from the number one spot. A run of 1,000 NFTs could split the difference in a tight week and front load those crucial first-week sales figures. Secondary sales — where fans trade the NFTs on open markets — are not, however, counted towards the charts.

In a statement, Martin Talbot, Official Charts Company CEO, said, “Over their seven decades, the Official Charts have always strived to move with the times, reflecting consumption of new formats and all new ways of distributing music, as they have evolved.”

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