Mastercard Strikes a Chord with Free Music NFTs

Credit: Mastercard

Payments processing giant Mastercard announced Wednesday at NFT.NYC that it is dropping a new NFT set: a collection of music non-fungible tokens that grant access to its Web3 music accelerator. The free-to-claim music pass NFT enables holders to follow the journeys of the five artists selected for the program, peruse educational materials related to Web3 music, and use an artificial intelligence studio that will launch in May.

The Mastercard music pass NFT minting period will last until the end of April. The NFTs are stored on the Polygon blockchain, a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum that is known for fast speeds and low transaction costs. Other partners of Polygon include Meta, Starbucks, Disney, Adidas, and Prada.

According to the Mastercard’s Web3 music accelerator landing page, the music pass NFT will be the gateway for more digital collectibles as users participate in the program. And while the onboarding process automatically puts the music pass NFT into a Mastercard custodial wallet, users will be able to transfer their digital collectibles out to a MetaMask wallet, with Mastercard covering the costs.

Although Mastercard announced its music accelerator program back in January, it did not reveal the participating artists at that time. Now, it has. All told, there are five: R&B singer Young Athena, Latin artist Manu Manzu, Nigerian-based LeriQ, pop sensation Emily Vu, and singer-songwriter Cocoa Sarai.

They will learn from five mentors — producer Tushar Apte, LA-based rapper Latashá, Ledger CXO Ian Rogers, Afro dancer Nife, and crypto expert Brian Trunzo — before participating in a showcase during the summer of 2023. Holders of the music pass NFTs will be able to take the journey alongside them, enjoying some of the perks afforded to these artists.

Mastercard Web3 Accelerator Part of Broader Movement

While Mastercard has supported artists in the past (most notably at the GRAMMY Awards), its music accelerator is its first attempt in leveraging Web3 technology to do so. Furthermore, in the text of Mastercard’s music accelerator press release, it is clear the company sees the accelerator as broader than just supporting up-and-coming artists. As it states, “there is no limit to how many fans…can unlock the program after claiming their Mastercard Music Pass.”

The company also notes the revolution that is happening at the intersection of Web3 and the music industry. Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President at Mastercard, said in a statement that Web3 “can be a powerful tool” to connect people and build communities around universal passions.

We covered this movement in our “What is NFT music?” article. At turns, musicians have used Web3 tech to:

  • Connect more directly with their audience
  • Distribute royalties for songs among fans
  • Offer token-gated experiences through non-fungible tokens

Mastercard has not been shy about its bullishness for Web3. After submitting trademark applications with the United States Patent & Trademark Office about a year ago, it has been a steady figure in Web3 news, partnering with major companies in the space to allow users to purchase NFTs with fiat currency and launching a set of customizable NFT debit cards.

Time will tell how users react to its Web3 music accelerator, but even if it doesn’t mean expectations, it is likely we’ll see more from Mastercard in this nascent technology industry in the future.