LimeWire, a defunct but nostalgic peer-to-peer file sharing client, is making a comeback as a music NFT marketplace after the rights to the name were purchased by a pair of Austrian entrepreneurs, as Bloomberg reported on Wednesday (March 9).
Indeed, those entrepreneurs, brothers Julian Zehetmayr and Paul Zehetmayr, aren’t bringing LimeWire back as the legally questionable P2P service where music fans could download mislabeled Metallica MP3s — an example of a common frustration for LimeWire users in its early-2000s heyday — but as an online storefront to buy and trade NFTs related to music.
In an interview on Wednesday, Julian said LimeWire is a “very iconic name. Even if you look on Twitter today, there’s hundreds of people still being nostalgic about the name.”
He added, “Everybody connects it with music and we’re launching initially a very music-focused marketplace, so the brand was really the perfect fit for that with its legacy.”
LimeWire first emerged 22 years ago as a P2P client for Windows, OS X and Solaris. Like its controversial counterpart Napster from the same era, it became a go-to destination for downloading MP3s.
But the Zehetmayr brothers aren’t looking to dredge up LimeWire’s messy past — the one that resulted in a permanent injunction against the site in 2010.
“After about 12 years of the platform being down, all the controversy that might have been in the past with the music industry has turned into nostalgia,” Paul explained.
Julian said around 10 “really big mainstream” artists had already signed on to be part of the new LimeWire. Further, members of the management teams for R&B performer HER and hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan are said to be joining the company’s board as advisers.
As the frenzy for NFTs continues to mix with other entertainment, it seems several entrepreneurs are starting music NFT websites. But last month, a fraudulent music NFT site called HitPiece was shut down by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
What Are NFTs?
NFTs — non-fungible tokens — are essentially digital certificates of authenticity that point to a file, such as an image or video, and exist on a record-keeping blockchain in a way that makes them uniquely identifiable and able to be traded with cryptocurrency. Positioned by some as the latest online craze and a preview of a decentralized internet, some NFTs have sold for millions and many celebrities are endorsing the trend.
NFT critics point out that someone who buys one doesn’t usually own the underlying file, only the token itself. That’s often the case with digital art, as the NFT functions as a link to that file; the original copyright remains with the creator. Still, anyone could save and copy that file, though they won’t own it on the blockchain. The NFT’s link could also change at any time to no longer direct to it. Not to mention environmental concerns.
As with any new tech in commerce, NFTs quickly came to music. In 2021, artists including Avenged Sevenfold and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda began making or “minting” their own NFTs. Even late rocker Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana became the subject of an NFT series.
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