Music NFT startup HitPiece relaunches with artist partners months after being labelled a scam

The company initially drew huge backlash from artists and industry organisations when it first launched in February

The music NFT company HitPiece has relaunched months after it was accused by artists and industry organisations of being a “scam”.

The company claimed back in February that its service “let fans collect NFTs of your favourite songs”, and offered NFTs tied to albums and songs from the likes of The Beatles, Taylor Swift, and Bob Dylan, as well as smaller, less established acts.

HitPiece relaunched last week with new artist partnerships and industry ties, moving out of its test beta stage. According to founder Rory Felton, the brand has signed deals with young artists and producers, including producer ATL Jacob and rappers and singers Lil Gnar and Lil Gotit.

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In an interview with Input, Felton said HitPiece’s initial launch earlier this year had occurred before he had secured “the proper guardrails in place around the product, which led to miscommunications and challenges that happened”. “We made mistakes with that, and we’re looking to learn from that and build upon that,” he said.

He added that he “did not agree at all” with claims made by Ken Doroshow, the RIAA’s chief legal officer, that HitPiece was “a scam operation”. Felton said the company was “not actively speaking with the RIAA” but was in contact with record labels.

Speaking to Billboard, the founder added that he had learned the company “needs to be buttoned up whenever we allow any portion of our service to be publicly available”. “By buttoned up, I mean having secured the necessary rights to any content that is made available through our platform,” he explained.

As well as its new artist partnerships, HitPiece is also said to be working with the music rights company Audible Magic, which will help the brand “verify ownership of new music prior to minting of an NFT”.

Among its plans, the site hopes to introduce a “music lounge”, where NFTs will be able to be shared in “an immersive listening room”. Felton said the rights for that aspect of the company were still being obtained, and he was working with music licensors to secure those rights. He added that agreements with individual songwriters, publishers, artists and labels may be approached instead of securing them from performance rights organisations.

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Back in February, several musicians shared online that they had not consented to their music purportedly being auctioned off as NFTs on HitPiece. “We don’t have any deal with you or any NFT site and there SURE DOES LOOK like an active auction going on for a speedy ortiz song,” tweeted Speedy Ortiz and Sad13 star Sadie Dupuis.

BleachersJack Antonoff added: “Any bleachers NFTs are fake. At the moment I do not believe in NFTs so anything you see associated with me isn’t real.”

Left At London’s Nat Puff wrote: “My art is currently being sold on the blockchain by people who are not affiliated with me at all. I do not know who uploaded them to @joinhitpiece. They profit. NFT’s are shit & if you support them you’re indirectly supporting the downfall of independent artistry. FOH.”

“Clearly we have struck a nerve and are very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans,” HitPiece responded in a statement shared on Twitter shortly afterwards. It went on to claim that “artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece” but said it was “continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels and fans alike”.

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