Entering the Web3 sector through the leadership of brothers Paul and Julian Zehetmayr, LimeWire is looking to remain true to its music roots by offering a vehicle for NFTs for artists and fans.
Payment Expert sat down with LimeWire COO, Marcus Feistl, on the journey that the rebranded company ventured into and discussed the potential of NFTs within the music industry.
Payment Expert: It has been almost 12 years since LimeWire’s music platform shut down. Could you take us on a brief journey on how Paul and Julian Zehetmayr were able to obtain the rights for the platform?
Marcus Feistl: What needs to be stressed is a clear distinction between the old and the new LimeWire, in the sense that this is a new entity. It’s really about using the nostalgia of the brand and all the awareness that is out there and now, to reshape it as an NFT marketplace for music, again in the same industry as that was what LimeWire was most famous for and use that to move to the original Web2 to Web3.
PE: Were the initial intentions for the rebranded LimeWire always meant to be a hub for NFTs or were there other plans for the platform?
MF: The whole idea around it was to use this nostalgia and combine it with something that is connected to Web3/crypto/NFT space to lounge it. The idea was to use that and figure out what would be the right fit whilst lounging something into the Web3 and NFT space, and then LimeWire was a pretty natural fit. There were other ideas floating around but Paul and Julian did a tremendous job on getting hold of all the assets because they were all scattered around to different people.
PE: What was the initial reaction from the industry when you announced earlier this year that LimeWire is coming back as an NFT marketplace.
MF: Initially, due to the nostalgia and to be seen from a consumer aspect might be positive because people may still love the brand and there was still a lot of social media engagement for LimeWire even though it has been shut down for over 12 years. We also thought that there might be some negative press around it due to the controversy of the brand in the past. But eventually to be fully honest, we haven’t felt that at all.
What I think is also interesting even in the music industry, the labels are interested in working with us despite the controversy of the old LimeWire, to see the fit and the need to move into the Web3 and NFT industry.
PE: How accessible are LimeWire’s NFTs to the general public, is easy entry applicable?
MF: That’s the whole idea of using a mainstream brand to also take the entire space mainstream, that is pretty much our mission. Which is why the whole process is straightforward. It is also why we have tried to somewhat not use the word NFT overall because it is just ‘Digital Collectibles’, something you can share and acquire from your most favourite artist.
You can pay by credit card which means you don’t even need to own any cryptocurrency. But also we don’t want to exclude the native crypto folks, they can go through the same process but with cryptocurrencies by loading up their wallets if they are pretty equipped in crypto. It’s really open for everybody. The whole idea is to use that mainstream brand and that understanding of the Web2 space and its simplicity and take that into the Web3 space and make it mainstream.
PE: The recent licensing partnership with Universal Music Group opens up a world of collaborative opportunities with music artists. What are some of the things we can expect to see through this partnership with UMG?
MF: There’s different kinds of artists. There’s independent artists that pretty much own all their content and have rights to their content, so working with them is pretty much straight forward as they can decide on the content they want to use and they pretty much structure the NFT projects and put them live on LimeWire as use us as an extra distribution channel.
Where it gets a bit more complicated is with artists that have contracts signed with big labels, for instance UMG. What’s interesting for the labels is using a single platform that can work with their artists with the content they own and use that as an extra distribution channel with the different type of content they want to use. We can licence all the content that UMG owns then we collaborate with the artists on structuring projects around NFTs, that could be music releases, photography, 3D animations, big stage and video content – a really broad amplitude of content types that we can share.
PE: In NFTs’ relatively known existence to the world, people will often depict them as pieces of artwork. Will the collaboration with UMG artists look to create new ground for the industry with exclusive audio recording and record NFTs?
MF: Our idea and aim for NFT projects in general is that we don’t really believe in the utility and the long term value of a lot of these typical ‘digital art pieces’ that have been around in the NFT space a lot so far. Our perception is that it should be unique and exclusive content, and it should be something that fans or buyers really perceive as valuable. We always strive with our artists to create projects which are exclusive and also to provide additional utility.
This could be uncut versions of backstage videos, something we have done with a couple of artists already, or interviews they are giving that are exclusively available on LimeWire. It could be tickets to their next concert, it can be pretty much everything you can share on a digital format, but the idea is unique and valuable content for the fanbase, much more than just a typical art piece – more about the story behind it.
PE: You have also recently held a private sale for your LMWR crypto token. What is the functionality of the token and how can it be used?
MF: It is a utility token, the idea is to have this token at the heart of the platform and something for the community to use and engage with. There will be enough perks around it which I think will be quite interesting for everyone. We will also introduce different levels of users and a bit of gamification around the token, but a lot more to share together with our next steps with the token making it available to the public in the coming weeks.