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Ethereum NFT OKEx Insights NFT Snapshot

Warner Music Group to enter NFT sector, infrastructure startup Alchemy raises $80M

2021.05.04 Rick Delaney

Despite investor sentiment remaining cool in the wider NFT market, CryptoPunks still attracted seven-figure sales, LarvaLabs released Meebits and more sporting franchises embraced digital collectibles. 

Although the hype surrounding the nonfungible token market is nowhere near the level seen earlier this year, the sector continues to see positive developments. 

Following the success of NBA Top Shot and Sorare, sports clubs are increasingly aware of the potential of NFTs. This week saw the NBA's Golden State Warriors auction an independent NFT series and five Italian soccer teams join Sorare. 

Elsewhere, Warner Music Group teamed up with tech startup Genies to produce NFTs for the recording artists it works with as NFT infrastructure startup Alchemy raised an additional $80 million. 

Such developments in the young sub-industry support claims made by record-breaking NFT creator Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann this week. Speaking with CNBC, the celebrated digital artist opined that NFTs would be around for "many decades."

OKEx Insights covers these stories and more in this week's NFT Snapshot.         

Warner Music Group enters the NFT sector

International record label and entertainment company Warner Music Group announced its first foray into the NFT market this week. The firm that works with some of the most prominent recording artists on the planet has entered a global partnership with tech startup Genies. The deal will enable WMG artists to release their own NFT avatars and digital wearables. 

Acknowledging NFT drops by musicians such as Deadmau5, Eminem, Grimes and Sean Mendez, Forbes reported the major label's entry into the market as an industry first. 

Recording artists' successes in the fledgling NFT space have so far been varied. On the one hand, NFT sales of the indie artist and cryptocurrency supporter 3LAU's album Ultraviolent totaled $11.7 million. On the other, sales of unique Eminem-produced beats were underwhelming last week — as were sales of U.S. indie rockers Kings of Leon's latest album, When You See Yourself, which came out in March.

Alchemy attracts $80 million in funding

On April 28, blockchain middleware startup Alchemy announced the conclusion of an $80 million series B funding round. The latest investments into the San Francisco-based firm take its total valuation to around $500 million. 

As reported by CNBC, several big names took part in Alchemy's recent funding round. They include Manchester United's owners, the Glazer family; the band The Chainsmokers; actor Jared Leto; and venture investment firm DFJ Growth. Global tech-focused investment management company Coatue and Lee Fixel's early-stage investment firm Addition led the funding round. 

The Alchemy developer platform has been described as the blockchain equivalent of Amazon Web Services. Several notable NFT platforms use the product, including OpeaSea, Nifty Gateway and NBA Top Shot. 

Sports franchises continue to see marketing potential in NFTs 

Inspired by the wildly successful NBA Top Shot and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's interest in NFTs, the San Francisco Golden State Warriors basketball franchise became the first professional sports team in the United States to release an official NFT series this week. The auction, in which digital ticket stubs and championship rings from legendary games were sold, took place on May 1.

The Golden State Warriors Legacy NFT Collection consists of commemorative artwork of memorable seasons and games. Source: GSWNFT.com

Brazilian visual art studio Black Madre designed the digital content for the sale. Meanwhile, the team's Los Angeles-based jeweler produced physical championship rings to accompany some of the lots. 

Facilitating the auction for the Warriors was celebrity marketing firm Medium Rare. Previously, the company helped NFL star Rob Gronkowski create his own NFT drop, which racked up more than $2 million in sales since its mid-March launch. 

Statistics from leading NFT marketplace OpenSea show 86 buyers picked up all 329 of the Golden State Warriors collectibles at an average price of 1.99 ETH. The total volume traded on both primary and secondary markets to date is almost 670 ETH. 

Elsewhere in the world of sports NFTs, a further five teams — all from Italy's Serie A — joined the Sorare digital fantasy soccer game. The addition of Cagliari, Sampdoria, Genoa, Udinese and Hellas Verona means that more than half of the top Italian league's clubs are now represented. The latest signings push the platform's global team roster up to more than 140. 

CryptoPunks dominate as LarvaLabs launches Meebits

CryptoPunks once again topped sector analytics provider DappRadar's weekly volume figures. Sales totaled more than $22.5 million — an increase of over 41% versus the previous week. Contributing significantly to the figure, three CryptoPunks sold for more than $500,000 over the last seven days.

Interest in the pioneering Ethereum-based NFT project is growing once again ahead of the Punks' debut at respected auction house Christie's later this month. Nine of the pixelated portraits will go under the hammer on May 13 in New York, alongside more traditional works by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  

CryptoPunks creator LarvaLabs released a new NFT project on May 5. Meebits is a series of 20,000 generated 3D voxel characters. Ownership is represented by an ERC-721 token, and the project features its own no-fee marketplace. 

All 9,000 of the NFTs the company made available were quickly bought. The project launch generated significant hype. A testament to this is one Meebit that sold on OpenSea for 200 ETH — or more than $660,000 — around four hours after the project launched 

LarvaLabs' latest NFT project attracted six-figure secondary market sales on launch day. Source: OpenSea

Behind CryptoPunks in volume ranking this week is Dapper Labs' NBA Top Shot on the Flow blockchain. The hugely popular basketball digital collectibles game witnessed a modest weekly volume increase of around 5.8%, with total sales exceeding $15 million. The game saw a 23.5% active user increase, too — with around 120,000 individuals buying and selling Top Shot NFTs over the last seven days.

Despite the new additions to Sorare, the soccer collectibles weekly volume was down around 6.3%. However, its total volume of $2.82 million puts it comfortably in the top five collections, ahead of virtual world Decentraland at $1.4 million. 

CryptoPunks remains the highest-volume NFT project. Source: DappRadar

Although volume and sales totals remain considerably lower than recent peaks, Ethereum software company ConsenSys noted that crypto-art sales now account for roughly 10% of global art market sales. The firm published its Q1 2021 DeFi report this week, in which it comments on the coronavirus's impact on the NFT sector. It writes: 

"The pandemic created a fertile environment for obsessively online and out-of-work artists to monetize their work." 

OKEx Insights presents market analyses, in-depth features, original research & curated news from crypto professionals.

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