Several artists and labels have exposed NFT site HitPiece for selling song NFTs without the artists’ knowledge or permission. HitPiece has since been taken offline, with a single screen on their website that reads: “We started the conversation and we’re listening.” Some artists, however, are no longer open to having a conversation.
HitPiece was originally advertised as a digital space where users could purchase NFTs of their favorite songs in a “gamified” experience. According to their website, members could “build their Hitlist of their favorite songs, get on leaderboards, and receive in real life value such as access and experiences with Artists.”
It quickly became clear that in their operations, HitPiece was blatantly ignoring copyright laws.
Musician Wolfgang Van Halen was among the most outspoken in condemning HitPiece on social media. He called the website a “scam,” writing, “I just don’t want to live in a world where people like this don’t get what’s coming to them. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they saw no consequences for this blatant level of thievery. Truly disgusting shit here. Everyone at HitPiece should be ashamed.”
Van Halen is not alone in his criticism of HitPiece. Jackie Venson also posted about her disappointment and frustration with the situation, calling HitPiece “modern day thieves.”
HitPiece tweeted a public response to the backlash. “To be clear, artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece,” the statement reads. However, it is unclear how the artists would have been paid if they did not have any kind of deal with the platform.
In fact, Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff confirmed that he had no connections to any NFT trading whatsoever. “[A]ny bleachers NFTs are fake. at the moment i do not believe in NFTs so anything you see associated with me isn’t real,” Antonoff states in a social media post.
It’s not just the artists themselves coming after HitPiece. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) posted a letter demanding that HitPiece be shut down permanently. “HitPiece appears to be little more than a scam operation designed to trade on fans’ love of music and desire to connect more closely with artists, using buzzwords and jargon to gloss over their complete failure to obtain necessary rights,” Chief Legal Officer Ken Doroshow writes.
The RIAA stated that fans were tricked into believing they purchased NFTs directly associated with their favorite artists. But, in reality, HitPiece was selling information that they did not have the rights to.
“Given how fans were misled and defrauded by these unauthorized NFTs and the massive risk to both fans and artists posed by HitPiece and potential copycats, it was clear we had to move immediately and urgently to stand up for fairness and honesty in the market,” the RIAA’s Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier comments.
While the HitPiece situation is certainly not the first controversy regarding NFTs in the music industry, it has done significant damage to artists and users alike.