Republic – the financial services company, not the record label – has announced the launch of “Republic Music,” a loosely defined investment product that claims to offer “an entirely new way to create, produce and share royalties from music.”
The result of a partnership with a crypto company called Opulous, Republic Music gives listeners the chance to “invest in the music they love for as little as $100 and share in the rights to royalties.”
The idea revolves around something called “S-NFTs,” or “Security NFTs.”
New path for NFTs?
NFTs are non-fungible tokens – a kind of cryptocurrency that can be attached to media files and treated as proof of ownership. Crypto companies usually argue that NFTs are not securities, since securities in the U.S. need to be regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Republic seems to be taking the opposite tack, leaning into the idea that these S-NFTs are a kind of security – something you can invest in with the expectation of profit down the line.
“The songs are going to be placed in an LLC, and you will be a member of the LLC,” said Pialy Aditya, Republic’s chief strategy officer, in an interview. “You will have a share of ownership in that song, and a right to the royalty on the back end.”
That means S-NFTs are overseen by the SEC and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the finance industry’s self-regulatory body; investors based in the U.S. will need to comply with relevant KYC / AML (know your customer / anti-money laundering) regulations before they can get a piece of the action.
It hinges on what’s known as “Reg CF,” or “Regulation Crowdfunding,” which lets private companies raise up to $5 million from non-accredited investors in Kickstarter-like campaigns.
Republic also says it’s brought on rapper and one-time Donald Trump affiliate Lil Pump to sweeten the deal.
“As part of the first wave of planned releases, Lil Pump is offering fans and investors the opportunity to be part of his forthcoming single ‘Mona Lisa (feat. Soulja Boy)’, produced by Jimmy Duval,” a press release said.
Companies have long tried to put digital music “on the blockchain” in a way that makes sense to consumers; a crypto streaming service called Audius is probably the biggest name in the space, but smaller projects like Catalog, Songcamp and Nina have also generated buzz.
More recently, crypto-conscious DJ 3LAU rolled out a similar royalties play called Royal, which bypasses the securities angle entirely.
Republic considers its music platform a “vertical” of its primary investment business; it’s planning several other verticals geared toward fractional investments in different aspects of the creator economy.
“I think in the New World Order, early supporters are going to be rewarded, the artists are going to get paid and the community is going to grow stronger,” Republic’s Aditya said.