Junk Explained: What The Hell Are NFTs?
Kings Of Leon have announced their new album will be released as 'non-fungible tokens' - but what does that even mean?
Never let it be said that Kings of Leon, the band that you last thought about when ‘Sex on Fire’ blasted through the speakers of your local RSL, circa 2008, won’t do anything to stay relevant.
This morning, it was announced that the band are releasing their new album in the form of an NFT, or non-fungible token, a word you’ve probably scrolled past at least 50 times the last week without actually wanting to exert the effort of finding out what it means. (Is there a German word to describe the kind of factoids that are just digitally saturated enough to inspire annoyance, but not enough annoyance to actually send you searching for explanations? I’ve spent the last three years seeing memes about modern lawns being environmentally harmful, and I’ve never once Googled why.)
But here we are, drawn together by Kings of Leon, ready to explore the world of NFTs together. So let’s dive the fuck in.
What Are NFTs?
NFTs are unique digital tokens, similar to ultra rare-trading cards. The “non-fungible” part of their name means that they can’t be exchanged for one another; their numbers are limited. Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum Blockchain.
Wait, What Is The Ethereum Blockchain?
Ethereum is the second biggest blockchain in the world, after Bitcoin, another word you’ve probably scrolled past two hundred times in the last few years without digging in much further.
Okay, Slower: What Is A Blockchain?
A blockchain is an open-source, peer-to-peer tablature. Think of it like a ledger, or a really big book, that gets written in using permanent marker – on most blockchains, individual “blocks”, or kernels of information, cannot be erased. That means that blockchains are very useful ways to record information online, without the risk of hackers messing the whole thing up.
Blockchains have a range of uses. But their ability to record information in a secure way means that they’re essential for cryptocurrencies: blockchains can be used to store information about transactions conducted using cryptocurrencies.
Okay, Much Slower: What Are Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies are digital cash. Rather than actual money, which is traded using physical tokens, cryptocurrencies are exchanged using blockchains, with blocks of information created to mark the precise detail of these exchanges. Instead of physical money changing hands, a block is created.
Alright, So What Do NFTs Actually Do?
Imagine a world in which Pokémon cards have no associated game — they’re just pretty collectable items, like the cards that used to come with packs of cigarettes.
That’s what NFTs are like, broadly speaking. An individual NFT can resemble pretty much anything – it can be a short video of Logan Paul unboxing Pokemon Cards, or a work of art by the aggressively confusing musician Grimes.
The only similarity between individual NFTs is that they are, like we said before, unique, and their purchase confers ownership. When you buy a Kings of Leon NFT, you are the owner of that NFT, in much the same way as buying a flashy Squirtle card makes you its owner.
What Does The Art Market Have To Do With All This?
Because NFTs are unique, they resemble works of art. There’s only one OG Mona Lisa, and if you buy it, then it’s yours. Similarly, if you buy Grimes’ NFTs, then you are the owner of Grimes’ NFTs.
The bigger the NFT market gets, the more valuable individual NFTs will become, because there will be more people looking to buy unique works off one another. Then, hey presto: we’ve created a version of the art market, complete with originals, buyers, sellers and auctions.
Can I Do Anything with my NFTs?
That depends on what NFT you have bought. Some have no associated use beyond their ownership: you buy ‘em, and then they are yours to look at and sell when you want. As The Verge notes, however, others have associated copyright laws; they can grant you the ability to set the NFT as your display picture on social media, for instance.
Why Would I Buy The Kings Of Leon NFTs?
Each of the NFTs that Kings of Leon are selling have an associated value beyond just ownership. One gives you access to Kings of Leon concerts for the rest of your life, for instance, while another gets you a special vinyl record.
I Am Not Going To Buy The Kings of Leon NFTs