John Cena calls his own NFT sales a ‘catastrophic failure’

World Wrestling Entertainment offered 500 gold tier packages with Cena’s NFT for $1,000, but only a fraction of them sold.

Professional wrestler and actor John Cena said fans only purchased 7.4% of his World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE, nonfungible tokens (NFTs) that he made available last month.

Speaking at Florida Supercon 2021 on Sept. 12, Cena said it was a mistake to market his WWE NFTs as part of a package with physical collectibles — a hat, shirt, wristbands, belt, towel, autographed picture, and the digital collectible. The organization offered 500 gold tier packages with the NFT for $1,000, but only a fraction of them sold.

“I talk a lot about failure — this idea failed,” said Cena. “Myself and the folks in the WWE thought $1,000 was a fair price point. We were wrong. We were absolutely wrong.”

He added:

“We sold 37 of them. It was a catastrophic failure.”

Cena and WWE released two tiers of NFTs for the wrestling star: a 24-hour auction of a “John Cena Platinum NFT” and the 500 limited edition NFTs as part of the aforementioned package of physical collectibles the following day. The platinum NFT reportedly sold for $21,000, with the highest bidder receiving VIP tickets — with accommodations — to WrestleMania 38 in Dallas or WrestleMania 39 in Los Angeles.

The WWE veteran promoted the crypto space on social media long before the surge in popularity over NFTs. Before the 2017 Bitcoin (BTC) bull run — when the price was in the $4,000s — he tweeted a picture of the physical token. Retired professional wrestler The Undertaker, part of the WWE until 2020, has also been featured in NFT collections.

Related: YouTuber trades Tesla Roadster for NFT

It’s unclear if wrestling fans were deterred by the price of the NFT — Cena, himself, estimated the digital artwork to be worth roughly $500 — or just the physical collectibles. In July, an entrepreneur launched simultaneous auctions for a job application from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and an NFT of the same. The physical paper ended up selling for $343,000, while the final bid for the NFT was 12 Ether (ETH), or roughly $27,460 at the time.

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‘Ecological nightmare’ backlash forces ArtStation to drop NFT plans

The announcement ArtStation was launching NFT artworks did not sit well with the platform’s artists, who called for a boycott and threatened to leave the platform.

Prominent online art portfolio platform ArtStation has caved in to pressure from artists and environmentally-conscious users hours after announcing a series of non-fungible token, or NFT, drops from several notable artists.

On Mar. 9, the platform announced the program was scheduled to begin today and featured works from artists including Halo Infinite art director Nicolas “Sparth” Bouvier, retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, Assassin’s Creed franchise art director Raphael Lacoste, painter Craig Mullins, and Magic: The Gathering illustrator Alena Aenami.

Following a furious bombardment of criticism, all mentions of the announcement were pulled down and replaced with a short message on the website stating that “In light of the critical reception on social media regarding NFTs, it’s clear that now is not the right time for NFTs on ArtStation.” Despite the setback, the firm didn’t shy entirely away from the technology, hinting at its potential future use:

“We are very sorry for all the negative emotions this has caused. Despite our attempts to validate our approach, we clearly made a mistake and admit fault. It was our bad. We feel that NFTs are a transformative technology that can make significant, positive change for digital artists.”

Dapper Labs founder and CEO Roham Gharegozlou stated the decision to cave in was “short-sighted” adding that “for one, blocks will get mined anyway — for the other, the criticism basically doesn’t apply to proof of stake blockchains like Flow Blockchain [used by NBA Top Shot].”

ArtStation’s original plan appeared to use the ERC-721 token on Ethereum which remains a power hungry Proof of Work blockchain until most transactions move to the more efficient Proof of Stake blockchain Eth2. It is unclear if the platform considered other blockchains that can host NFTs using a fraction of the power.

This apology only appeased some of the community, however, with artists like Ashley Grace taking to Twitter again to voice their concerns about the apparent inconclusive wording of the post, likening NFTs to an “ecological nightmare pyramid scheme.”

Prior to pulling down the initial announcement, ArtStation unsuccessful attempted to placate the push-back, adding that it will be “contributing to offset the carbon footprint costs of any given piece of digital art transacted on the platform.”

Twitter user “Bleached Rainbows” stated that “ArtStation going into NFT and saying ‘but don’t worry! We’ll pay for carbon offsets’ is the equivalent of setting a house on fire then placing a single potted plant on the burned property as ‘compensation’.”

The backlash came on top of other controversies including rumored sexism and adult content, with artists threatening to cancel their subscriptions. Other issues included the unregulated nature of the NFT space and ability for scams to arise, and criticisms the move was a cash grab for the platform and most prominent artists.

Despite the intense controversy, NFTs continue to garner widespread support with Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days auction on Christie’s heating up. Kinetic founder Jehan Chu attempted to join but was outbid at $7.25 million with 2 days still to go.

The highest bid is currently $9.75 million.

Nine hours after ArtStation canceled the NFT launch, NFL tight end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rob Gronkowski announced his new NFT collection of four cards to represent his four championships. The cards will be sold at auction via Opensea on Mar. 10.

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Grammy-winning producer Illmind auctions rights to new samples as NFT

The innovative NFT includes a special link that is accessible only by its owner, conferring rights to use audio files for their own purposes.

NFTs are being used to explore a new business model that puts music makers back in control of sales and copyright issues. Grammy winning producer Illmind released what he calls the “first ever NFT-backed sample loop/melody pack” on Feb. 25, putting a collection of 10 “melody compositions” up for auction on the Mintable NFT market app.

Based on Ethereum, the NFT is titled “ALORIUM” and contains an exclusive link to a file containing individual audio tracks of the compositions. It also comes with a “royalty-free guarantee” and a contract that gives the NFT owner rights to use the audio files for their own purpose.

Ramon Ibanga, better known as Illmind, has a successful career as a music producer which spans three decades. He has produced tracks for several best-selling hip hop artists, including Kanye West, Dr. Dre, and 50 Cent. He is also behind tracks on #1 albums by Drake and J Cole. In 2018, he won a Grammy award for his production of “Everything Is Love” by Beyoncé and Jay-Z.

Ibanga’s creation sparked a passionate conversation on Reddit regarding what ownership of digital property implies about rights to creative property. Sentiment generally agreed upon by those responding to the news include that the idea is innovative and potentially transformative for the music industry.

“Someone really should make a platform for this,” commented Redditor MuddyFilter, who went on to explain why they thought NFTs could make big waves in the future of the music business.

“This is actually a use case for NFT that I can get behind and that I genuinely think is better than the way it’s currently done. We can pay the creators of the samples directly instead of paying some sample label.”

Musicians have been warming up to the idea of blockchain-based tech over the last year. Some have discovered new ways to connect with other artists, such as Deadmau5 and Sutu, who released an NFT based on collaborative efforts in Dec. 2020. Others have used it to release productions in different media forms, such as Julian Ono Lennon, who sold an NFT artwork piece for $3,000 the same month.

On Feb. 17, DJ 3LAU announced that the top bidder of his upcoming NFT auction will be offered the chance to collaborate with him on a new track.

On Feb. 6, Linkin Park rapper Mike Shinoda auctioned off a clip of an upcoming song in NFT form on Zora, a marketplace for digital items focused on cutting out corporate influence from the entertainment industry.

On Dec. 17, 2020 dance music producer Guy J put the rights to royalty earnings from one of his songs up for sale on music streaming platform Rocki, with ownership of an NFT conferring rights to 50% of the song’s earnings in perpetuity. The sale managed to raise 40 ETH.

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In the end, do NFTs even matter? Linkin Park rapper joins celebrity NFT mania

Rap-rock icon Mike Shinoda is just the latest in a string of celebrities toying with NFT tech

Mike Shinoda, the musician and co-founder of rap-rock band Linkin Park, launched an auction on Rarible last night for “Zora,” a nonfungible token (NFT) music clip from a forthcoming song. In doing so, Shinoda joins an ever-growing throng of celebrities and influencers who are dipping their toes into NFT tech — and bringing their considerable fanbases along for the ride. 

Late last night Shinoda revealed the drop with a short Tweet:

In a follow-up thread Shinoda described the auction as an “experiment,” and seemed to be impressed with the value proposition of provable scarcity and ownership:

“Here’s the crazy thing. Even if I upload the full version of the contained song to DSPs worldwide (which I can still do), i would never get even close to $10k, after fees by DSPs, label, marketing, etc,” he wrote.

He ended the thread with a link to a “beginner’s guide” explainer on NFTs, inviting his followers to learn more.

More celebrities than a gossip mag

Shinoda isn’t the only celebrity who has been toying with NFTs. 

Yesterday, YouTuber Logan Paul released a set of 44 NFTs styled as pokemon cards to promote his upcoming celebrity boxing match. Likewise, billionaire investor Mark Cuban released some halfhearted animations on Rarible, and today is releasing another set where buyers can request personalized videos from the Shark Tank host.

Polyient games co-founder Craig Russo says that the celebrity activity is an inevitable byproduct of a wild bull market overtaking the NFT space, but also a natural product-market fit that better links famous individuals to their communities:

“After a relatively slow period over the past few months, the NFT market is again heating up,” said Russo. “Given that the current use cases for NFTs are approachable and very social in nature, we’re beginning to see an influx of mainstream interest. This has ultimately resulted in a few notable celebrities entering the space.”

Notable celebrities… and a few less-than-notable ones as well. Rounding out the big names trying to pawn some tokens is one-hit wonder Soulja Boy, who has been selling collectibles on Rarible throughout the last week. He currently has 30 ETH worth of animations for sale, and is experimenting with other non-blockchain content platforms, having recently set up an OnlyFans account.

Direct to consumer

While some efforts have been more of a blatant money-grab than others, there are plenty of examples of projects and people who appear genuinely interested in using the technology to better connect with their fans. Openlaw co-founder and NFT investment group Flamingo DAO member Aaron Wright says it’s a natural fit, and a perfect use case for blockchain.

“One of the visions of Ethereum has always been Web3 and the creation of an ownership economy. With the growth of NFTs we’re seeing that play out,” said Wright. “Celebrities are recognizing that instead of relying with ad-based models, they can interact directly with their community and tribe online by selling their creative works.”

Pranksy, the collector-whale who has recently been proselytizing NFTs to the masses on the nightly news, likewise thinks that celebrities using NFTs to monetize their content and connect with fans might be here to stay. 

“Mark Cuban is not the first, nor will he be the last celebrity to monetise NFTs. More eyes on the space can only be a good thing, and the hope is they continue to embrace and support the community beyond a quick cash grab,” the collector said.

It’s a notion that Shinoda himself seems to have latched onto. After critics uninitiated in the tenets of NFTs criticized him for selling content users can see for free, Shinoda gave a short lesson on value and NFTs to his followers:

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