Virtual band Gorillaz’s debut album is turning 20 years old today (a fact I’m going to try to immediately forget), and in celebration the group will be carrying out the usual anniversary celebrations: re-releasing albums, selling new merch and, according to NME, selling NFTs.
This news has Broken me.
What’s an NFT?
NFTs allow you to buy and sell ownership of unique digital items and keep track of who owns them using the blockchain. NFT stands for “non-fungible token,” and it can technically contain anything digital, including drawings, animated GIFs, songs, or items in video games. An NFT can either be one of a kind, like a real-life painting, or one copy of many, like trading cards, but the blockchain keeps track of who has ownership of the file.
NFTs have been making headlines lately, some selling for millions of dollars, with high-profile memes like Nyan Cat and the “deal with it” sunglasses being put up for auction. There’s also a lot of discussion about the massive electricity use and environmental impacts of NFTs. If you (understandably) still have questions, you can read through our NFT FAQ.
At this point, it’s pretty clear that NFTs are a thorny environmental issue — while it can be hard to calculate exactly how bad they are in terms of carbon emissions, the picture is not looking good. In general, upon seeing the torrent of NFT news, it’s been easy to needle people about participating in a marketplace that is doing actual damage to the world: “Okay, Brand, hope this marketing stunt was worth setting the Earth on fire?” Turns out it’s not as fun when someone you actually like is doing it, especially if that artist has previously made an entire album about ecological destruction.
O green world, don’t desert me now
I don’t want to come off like I’m trying to cancel Gorillaz, or say it’s bad for artists to make money. Artists should absolutely be paid more for their work, and I’m all for them trying to come up with new things to sell to fans willing to pay. But NFTs come with a cost that’s hard to justify, and seeing a band I like seemingly ignore that has left me sitting on a Melancholy Hill. And I’m not All Alone — there have been plenty of other fans voicing their disappointment on Twitter. It probably doesn’t help that their ecological album was called Plastic Beach, and they’re reportedly working with a company called Superplastic to sell the NFTs. Life comes at you fast.
If you’re an artist, here’s a Song 2 repeat: