It’s been the spring of NFTs after a years-long crypto winter, but as digital art prices cool after a surge in revenues, blockchain entrepreneurs are searching for more secure opportunities in the space that can expand over time, even as speculative interest in NFTs changes.

Using NFTs to reshape the creator economy in a way that helps creators more than the outlets that host their work has piqued my interest. S!NG (pronounced sing) has recently introduced a website that allows users to upload files to their servers and time-stamp those uploads on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a dead-simple mechanism with a big picture, ensuring that artists get recognition for their work while they’re doing it.

The app’s developers envision a future in which artists use the platform as an autosave for their intellectual property throughout the creative process, allowing them to scribble notes or upload a fast demo and saving those moments on the blockchain, which they hope will remove or expedite copyright conflicts for creators who can point to a clearly time-stamped breadcrumbs trail. The app’s name suggests that it’s aimed at songwriters and musicians in particular, but the company’s onboarding also demonstrates the company’s ambition in the creator environment, allowing users to choose if they’re a photographer, artist, or programmer. The app’s developers envision a future in which artists use the platform as an autosave for their intellectual property throughout the creative process, allowing them to scribble notes or upload a fast demo and saving those moments on the blockchain, which they hope will remove or expedite copyright conflicts for creators who can point to a clearly time-stamped breadcrumbs trail. The app’s name suggests that it’s aimed at songwriters and musicians in particular, but the company’s onboarding also demonstrates the company’s ambition in the creator environment, allowing users to choose if they’re a photographer, artist, or programmer.

“You have the best of both worlds with very public witnesses to a very private event,” says CEO Geoff Osler. “Your content is never out there, but you can have this massive attestation to the fact that it exists at a certain point in time.”

S!NG, A Blockchain Startup, Wants Creators To Use NFTs To Safeguard Their Intellectual Property
Image via S!NG

The iOS app is fairly simple in design. Users may add additional files, mention additional partners, and add notes after uploading a piece of media, whether it’s a picture, video, audio, or text file, before sending and christening the work on the blockchain. The file itself is encrypted and stored on S!NG’s AWS servers, meaning developers don’t have to worry about their early concepts being served up to a general audience. Early adopters may be concerned about what happens if the blockchain startup goes out of business and those servers go with it, but this is a problem that many startups that support the underlying media files of NFTs on centralized servers face.

Rights conflicts may be more prominent in the minds of those who have invested a significant amount of time in their particular creative industry, as opposed to budding artists who are more concerned with having their work noticed in the first place. S!NG’s goal is to establish those moments earlier in the creation of a work and help artists who may be associated with more collaborative artistic processes where ownership of ideas can seem more obfuscated from a legal perspective, while public ties enable a work’s roots to be tracked down until it’s complete and ready for public consumption.

“If I get something stolen from me, I’ve got a team that’s going to defend me and they’re probably going to win or settle any claims, but if you’re a 16-year-old kid, you don’t have that ability so that’s what we want to provide, but more as a deterrent,” musician and advisor Raine Maida. “I think when you see the S!NG watermark or you see that it’s saved and shared through the wallet… you don’t have to understand blockchain but you’ll know S!NG is that company that protects you.”

Non-fungible token-based legal defenses are probably a little uncommon for the time being, but the team’s creators expect that blockchain-based ownership proofs can join case law organically, just as DocuSign has.

S!NG, A Blockchain Startup, Wants Creators To Use NFTs To Safeguard Their Intellectual Property
Image via S!NG
S!NG, A Blockchain Startup, Wants Creators To Use NFTs To Safeguard Their Intellectual Property
Image via S!NG
S!NG, A Blockchain Startup, Wants Creators To Use NFTs To Safeguard Their Intellectual Property
Image via S!NG

If the company can persuade creators to incorporate the S!NG platform into their toolkits, the startup would have plenty of opportunities to profit in the nascent blockchain creator market. While many artists may see the NFT room as a risky money grab, the company’s founders seem to be publicly focused on avoiding speculation for now.

“Frankly I don’t give a shit about all of this crazy NFT stuff with things selling for a bazillion dollars,” Osler says. “I’m interested in the small artist who has 1,000 fans who will eagerly pay up $15 to keep that person in business.”

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