Musicians and visual artists have long registered their work with the U.S. Copyright Office to prove it’s theirs. But doing so is really little more than a person in a government office “witnessing” that a creation is associated with a person’s name on a certain date. And the process takes weeks or months to complete.
In the 21st century, creation happens on digital platforms. It happens far faster than ever before, and in many ways. Inspiration for a vocal line or a beat can happen spontaneously during a TikTok duet, for example. A GIF can be created on a phone and uploaded to social networks. It’s a good thing, then, that the blockchain can also “witness” the creation—and the creator—of a digital thing, and record it for perpetuity.
A new, free app called S!ng lets pretty much anybody do this in a few seconds by minting an NFT (nonfungible token) of a work on the Ethereum blockchain. An NFT is a type of cryptographic token that signifies true ownership of a digital asset, such as a piece of digital artwork. Creators can upload images (JPEG, BMP, or TIFF files) or audio (WAV, MP3, MIDI, PTX, PTF, or M4A) to the S!ng app, or record audio directly via the phone’s microphone. Once creators have minted an NFT for their work, it can be sold or licensed to others online if there’s a market for it. There is no minimum or maximum price that creators can ask for their NFTs.