NFTs are to physical art what music streaming is to vinyl records, says a crypto expert who sees a whole new social world for digital collectibles

NFTs are to physical art what music streaming is to vinyl records, says a crypto expert who sees a whole new social world for digital collectibles
Digital artist FEWOCiOUS auctions 5 unique NFT works of art, along with 5 physical paintings and drawings in a collection at Christie's in NYC. Noam Galai/Getty Images
  • Crypto art is revolutionizing how celebrities showcase and sell their work, says Wave Financial's cofounder.
  • As vinyl records are to streaming, NFTs are to existing physical art, Les Borsai told Insider.
  • NFT innovation brings better experiences, which means their rise isn't a bubble, the digital art expert said.

Crypto art is opening up a whole new world of creativity and promotion for digital artists and entertainers, as physical reality and virtual worlds look poised to become increasingly integrated.

Non-fungible tokens are attracting a wave of celebrities - from pop star Katy Perry to rapper Jay-Z, to billonaire investor Mark Cuban - who recognize the opportunity creating NFTs gives them to reach a new market.

Comparing physical art with digital art is like judging vinyl records against streamed music, said Les Borsai, an NFT expert who has worked with the likes of Lady Gaga and Jason Derulo. One isn't better than the other.

"They both have benefits I enjoy - streaming gives me ease of access, while my records might give me more of a richness when listening to them," he told Insider.

NFTs are revolutionizing how artists and content creators showcase and sell their work. They are digital tokens that represent assets such as music and video, as well as virtual paintings and land. Encoded onto a blockchain - the same technology that underpins cryptocurrencies - they carry a digital watermark to demonstrate unique rights to the crypto asset.


They are expected to become an integral part of the tech-investment megatrend of the next decade. The volume of sales for NFTs soared to $2.5 billion in the first half of 2021, data from analytics company DappRadar showed.

There is more to digital art than just collectibles, Borsai suggests. While critics see the crypto art boom as a craze, he views it as a way for top artists to connect with something cutting-edge.

"As someone that came from entertainment, and loved music that connected to the fringe, I think cryptocurrency and NFTs offer that same connection," said Borsai, chief strategy officer and cofounder at Wave Financial, a digital asset management firm.

The crypto expert spent a decade in managing recording artists, after which he helped launch startups involved in digital music and cryptocurrency, and began advising blockchain-based digital-payment network Ripple. He was also an early investor in ethereum's ether.

"The cryptocurrency and NFT communities are a community I can understand," Borsai said.


"While I never have the skill set to be a coder, I do have the ability to read 'Snowcrash' or 'Neuromancer' and see the potential of the future in the metaverse," he added, referring to cyberpunk novels that envisage a shared virtual universe.

As daily lives become more tech-centric, trading digital collectibles has helped enhance and create a more interesting global marketplace. Musicians now understand the range of avenues available to share their work and make money from their careers.

Borsai predicted this trend would usher in a new version of social media in a collective virtual space. "There will be a completely new type of social-media platform built - NFTs will exist in the metaverse," he said.

Some critics suggest the NFT boom may turn out to be a fad, noting it's a very new market that many investors don't understand or know much about. But Borsai argues the innovations at the core of crypto art are creating better experiences for people, and that makes NFTs less likely to be a speculative bubble. He pointed to the sales of digital real estate, for instance. A digital house recently sold for $500,000.

"It's an interesting thought experiment - who thought digital land would be worth anything three years ago? This is just the beginning," he said.


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