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HitPiece, the website selling NFTs of musicians' songs without permission, has been taken offline following artist backlash

Wolfgang Van Halen
(Image credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images)

HitPiece, a website selling NFTs of songs without permission from artists and copyright owners, has been taken offline.

The site has received widespread condemnation from the music community over the past week for the unauthorized NFT listings, including from Wolfgang Van Halen, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jack Antonoff and Austin, Texas-based singer-songwriter Jackie Venson.

“So it seems this fucking NFT scam site, HitPiece, thinks [it] can auction off everyone's music through Spotify data,” Van Halen wrote yesterday (February 2). “Fuck everyone involved in this. Enjoy getting destroyed by literally everyone you dumb fucking idiots.”

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He added: “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.”

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Venson added her voice to the chorus of disapproval with a post on Facebook on February 1, which read: “These people have stolen my entire catalog and put it up for sale as NFTs without my knowledge or consent. I saw many other artists on their site too. Modern day thieves. As if it wasn’t hard enough to be a musician in this era.”

Jack Antonoff – lead singer of indie pop band Bleachers – also tweeted: “Any Bleachers NFTs are fake. At the moment I do not believe in NFTs so anything you see associated with me isn’t real.”

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Following the backlash, HitPiece offered a response on Twitter yesterday (February 2), writing: “Clearly we had struck a nerve and are very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans. To be clear, artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece.

“Like all beta products, we are continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of artists, labels and fans alike.”

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At present, HitPiece.com (opens in new tab) simply hosts a one-line message which reads: “We started the conversation and we're listening.” Wolfgang Van Halen, however, doesn't appear interested in a dialogue, replying: “Nah... I'm pretty sure this conversation is over, you gargantuan pieces of shit.”

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In a recent conversation on the Business Builders podcast (per Pitchfork (opens in new tab)), one of HitPiece's co-founders, Rory Felton, explained that the platform is built on top of Spotify's API, and thus has access to the streaming platform's entire music catalog.

“The idea is you get to show off to your friends or people around the world, like, you own the greatest hit list you could create of all your favorite songs,” he said. “Artists get royalties from not only the initial auction but also every time it’s traded.”

Despite his comments, as some have noted, it's not clear how or if artists will be reimbursed if they haven't made a deal with the platform.

The subject of NFTs is increasingly inescapable to the regular internet user in 2022, but for the uninitiated: NFTs (or Non-Fungible Tokens) are a way of establishing ownership of digital assets like visual art or music. When a transaction or sale of an NFT is made, it is recorded on a massive decentralized digital ledger known as the blockchain.

While decentralization and a lack of a third-party monitoring these transactions can be beneficial in establishing digital autonomy, it's also a double-edged sword in that criminal or controversial activity is harder to police.

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Sam is a Staff Writer at Guitar World, also creating content for Total Guitar, Guitarist and Guitar Player. He has well over 15 years of guitar playing under his belt, as well as a degree in Music Technology (Mixing and Mastering). He's a metalhead through and through, but has a thorough appreciation for all genres of music. In his spare time, Sam creates point-of-view guitar lesson videos on YouTube under the name Sightline Guitar (opens in new tab).