Def Jam has signed its first NFT act, a Gorillaz-esque virtual rock band called The Whales.
According to Billboard, the group, which is comprised of cartoon whale characters, was signed to Def Jam in partnership with The Catalina Whale Mixer — a collective of 5,555 NFT avatars on the Solana blockchain.
The band, and the collective, were both created by WAGMI Beach in December 2021, with The Whales being born from a meeting between Ben Willis, Joshua Andriano and Def Jam’s DJ Mormile and Ryan Rodriguez.
“We pitched the idea of a community-grown avatar group to DJ and [they] just got it,” Willis told Billboard. “To be working with Def Jam on releasing this one-of-a-kind new music project is a dream come true.”
Def Jam confirmed the NFT band will soon release their debut album, but wouldn’t comment on who the musicians are at the project’s helm, only saying it would be a “who’s who” of talent.
WAGMI Beach added that they think the NFT model will change the way artists and labels engage with fans.
“At the core of all the NFT and Web3 attention is fundamental technology change that will alter how music and art is consumed by generations to come,” co-founder Alec Lykken said in a statement. “This is our initial dive into what we believe to be an incredible new wave for artists and fans alike.”
The news comes after Hit-Boy and James Fauntleroy announced last September they’d also begun work on a new album for a digital band, known as Kingship, which is signed to Universal Music Group’s 10:22 label.
The group was formed by the label head Celina Joshua, who designed the “band members” as a collection of NFTs comprised of characters from the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Despite the recent crash in crypto’s value, Kingship has gone on to generate $1.5 million in revenue. Joshua also revealed the group now has a deal with M&M’s, announcing the deal in the band’s first-ever animated clip called “Rider.” She is now ready to take this digital band to the next level.
“KINGSHIP’s journey is rooted in storytelling, experiences and music,” said Joshua in a statement. “I’m incredibly thankful that Hit-Boy and James Fauntleroy, two of the most influential and creative geniuses in the entire industry, are coming together to develop the music and sound for KINGSHIP.”
Hit-Boy echoed this sentiment. “I’m always looking to push things forward musically,” he added in a statement, “and this is a great opportunity to do something new in the web3 space.”
In August, the KINGSHIP NFTs had sold out and were currently ranking No. 1 on OpenSea’s Music NFT chart.