NFTs have been around since 2014, but only in 2021 did they became an important part of the art world. Since 2021 major museums and art galleries, as well as a growing number of artists fully embraced Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as a new digital mode of exposing, producing, and distributing art.

NFTs are embedded in blockchains: decentralised networks of information exchange on which different kinds of data can be stored without a centralised controlling entity. While commonly associated with cryptocurrencies and financial ledgers of transactions, blockchain technology can support many other types of data (including visual, audio, and video files). Through their unprecedented decentralisation of informational flows, blockchain technologies bring opportunities to better protect information, especially in times of post-truth, fake news, and information bubbles. For the arts, it might bring radical changes to the ways in which art is generated, communicated, disseminated, and transacted.

Despite its vertiginous expansion, the blockchain revolution is happening under the radar of many people and institutions. With this seminar, the Orpheus Institute wants to initiate research on NFTs in relation to musical practices in general, and to artistic research in particular. The seminar aims at mapping the field, exploring the potential of blockchain for music creation, and launching the basis for a blockchain network at the service of artistic research.


Convened by

Paulo de Assis, Orpheus Institute, Ghent;

Adam Łukawski, Orpheus Institute, Ghent and Leiden University;

Paolo Giudici, Royal College of Art, London.

Moderated by

Paulo de Assis, Orpheus Institute, Ghent


  • Claudio J. Tessone, UZH Blockchain Center, University of Zurich
  • Catherine Mulligan, Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon
  • Marcus O'Dair, Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London
  • Paolo Giudici, Royal College of Art, London
  • Kosmas Giannoutakis Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York
    Juan Carlos Vasquez, Independent composer, sound artist, and researcher
  • Kristof Timmerman, Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp
    Ine Vanoeveren,
    Royal Conservatory of Liège and Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp
  • Diane Drubay, TZ Connect and Tezos ecosystem, Berlin
  • Olly Jones, VP Partnership

Workshop with

Adam Łukawski, Orpheus Institute, and Leiden University



Music NFTs:

Blockchain for Artistic Research?

A seminar hosted by Orpheus Institute, Ghent

24-25 May 2022




Blockchains where introduced more than a decade ago to disrupt the status quo in the financial system. These systems allow trust to emerge in a system of unknown peers thanks predetermined economic incentives. Since the first implementations, the range of applications has only widened as it did the market capitalisation of the assets traded within. Among the plethora of possibilities, users can create their own assets be them fungible (like securities, utility tokens) or non. Non-fungible tokens stand for digital assets that are unique, and they may  represent digital art, stored also on a blockchain (like in cryptoart), or reference to it (like  music). The promise of disintermediation made artists to be among the earliest adopters of blockchain technologies. But how far are we from the decentralised vision of these platforms? How unique are the pieces therein exchanged?

How is the NFT market evolving and what does this mean for creators? The 2021 NFT boom market seems to have now ceased and there seems to be a lot more focus on thoughtful execution of projects. But how can creators ensure that their projects are seen as genuine and engaging to fans? What tools are available to them to stand up projects?

General introduction to the seminar and presentation of the MetamusicX research group at the Institute.

Can blockchain and smart contracts contribute to make rights management competitive for a loosely coupled and loosely allocated supply chain of creatives against the large production and distribution companies of the film and music industries?

Continued and drastic cuts to subsidy for creative and arts subjects in higher education have laid bare a structural weakness in artistic research, namely investment attraction and access to funding. Can a decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) be the answer?

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are a way of certifying ownership of digital assets such as songs or works of art using blockchain technology. This might sound prosaic. Yet, when an NFT produced by Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, was sold at Christie’s for $69 million in 2021, the art world had to take notice: only two living artists have ever reached a higher auction price. In music,  similarly, NFTs have been released by stars such as Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, Kings of Leon and even  Mick Jagger. While blockchain was originally understood as a financial technology or fintech innovation, NFTs have put the so-called creative industries at the centre of the Web 3 conversation. This paper seeks to answer three main questions. Firstly, why do artists and musicians mint NFTs? Secondly, why do people buy them? Thirdly, what, if any, are the potential negative externalities and how might we mitigate against them? The aim of the paper is to extend the NFT conversation beyond current market price into longer term financial value, particularly with relation to intellectual property rights, and into alternate types of value: aesthetic, social and environmental.

In the last decade, blockchain has been established as a transformative technology that is beginning to impact key sectors such as finance, health, energy, administration, and agriculture, among many others.  In relation to arts, much of the current research focuses on the problems of the protection, dissemination, and monetization of art and music, which is created by conventional means. This talk presents a more experimental approach and proposes a blockchain system for collaborative electroacoustic music composition that achieves consensus by measuring a contribution value. The main advantage of such an approach is a secure documentation that promotes trust and guarantees the integrity of the whole process while supporting a collaborative ecosystem for the creation of new music. A Proof of Creative Contribution (PoCC) consensus protocol is introduced, which measures a contribution value and assigns the composer with the highest value to record the composition data on the blockchain. In addition, a simulated compositional process is documented, which demonstrates the diversification of the block creator whose contributions have been well received by the network. The system supports a compositional process that is based on modular units, enabling multiple electroacoustic music pieces to be composed simultaneously, asynchronously, and non-linearly.

An ecosystem is a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape, work together to form a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain biotic or living, parts, as well as abiotic factors, or nonliving parts. Biotic factors include plants, animals, and other organisms. Abiotic factors include rocks, temperature, and humidity.
—National Geographic Society Encyclopaedia, s.v. “Ecosystem”

Equivalent multidisciplinary co-creation within the digital arts includes both artistic and technical profiles, as well as technological tools, protocols, and methodologies. To facilitate this form of co-creation - and in this way analyse the ecosystems created within multidisciplinary co-creation in the digital arts – we will carefully set up and examine current and future collaborations between artists and different technical profiles.
Four existing artistic collaborations will be paired with specific, technical profiles, each of them analysing and documenting the functioning and methodology of their multidisciplinary team, in order to arrive at a clear description of a meta-ecosystem within the field of digital arts. The outcomes of this project will be gathered in a virtual meta-ecosystem, based on the (so far known) principles and concepts of Web 3.0. This project will thus explore the issues of co-creation and NFT, with the aim of providing an artistic, digital contribution from within its own meta-ecosystem. There is a specific focus on the copyrights of the various profiles participating in these multidisciplinary teams, as well as sustainability, co-ownership, privacy, and security. This form of co-creation, with the prospects of NFT-outcomes, requires thorough research and experimentation to prepare our artistic activities for future Web 3.0 applications.

In a world where uncertainty becomes the new normal, being able to envision different futures for diverse audiences is crucial. Today, cultural institutions have to adapt to new social models and interests to stay relevant to their present and future audiences. Shifting governance from a centralised and private economy, Web3 opens up possibilities with technologies based on decentralisation where individuals and creators have a role to play in a system where their voice is being heard and accounted for. In her presentation, Diane Drubay will present what makes the Tezos ecosystem so special and give a taste of its art future.

In this workshop, participants will learn how to create, store, and put up music NFTs for auction with two selected third-party services. One hour of a practical step-by-step study about centralized and decentralized marketplaces, digital wallets, private and public keys, gas fees, and tools for monitoring art transactions will be concluded with a Q&A and discussion. Registration required.

Click on the covers to watch video presentations

Paulo de Assis is the PI of the research cluster MetamusicX at Orpheus Institute, an overarching project in artistic research that investigates experimental performance practices, innovative modes of presentation, and transdisciplinary encounters between art, research and philosophy. He is an experimental performer, pianist, and researcher, with wider interests in composition, aesthetics, and philosophy. In addition to his artistic practice, he is the author of Logic of Experimentation: Rethinking Music Performance through Artistic Research (2018), Luigi Nono’s Wende (2006) and Domani l’aurora (2004), and the editor of Futures of the Contemporary (2019), The Dark Precursor: Deleuze and Artistic Research (2017), Virtual Works — Actual Things. Essays in Music Ontology (upcoming 2018), Experimental Affinities in Music (2015), Sound & Score: Essays on Sound, Score and Notation (2013), and Dynamics of Constraints: Essays on Notation, Editing and Performance (2009). He is a research fellow at the Orpheus Institute, Ghent. Recent artistic projects include Beethoven 5+2 (on Beethoven's seven piano concertos), Rasch X (with music of Schumann and texts by Barthes), Unfolding Waves (on music by Luigi Nono and De Assis), Diabelli Machines (on Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations), Nietzsche N (on music and texts by Nietzsche). In 2013 he was guest professor at the University of Toulouse (FRA); and since 2015 a guest lecturer at the Institute Katarina Gurska for Artistic Research, Madrid (ESP). 2016 he was a CMPS Visting Fellow at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Claudio J. Tessone is Professor of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies, head of the Blockchain and Distributed Blockchain Technologies group at the University of Zurich (UZH), co-founder and Chairman of the UZH Blockchain Center. He studied Physics both at undergraduate level and in his PhD, where he specialised in understanding the emergent properties of complex systems. As a postdoc, he focused on the modelling and analysis of complex socio-economic and socio-technical systems. After this period, he obtained a Habilitation on “Complex socio-economic systems” from the Management, Technology and Economics Department at ETH Zurich. In 2015, became Assistant Professor for Network Science at UZH, being tenured in his current role in 2021. Together with his team (10 PhD students and 4 postdocs) and an extensive international network study blockchains as a paradigm of socio-economic complexity: linking microscopic agent behaviour, incentives (placed on purpose or inadvertedly) with global properties. Topics include: consensus analysis and modelling (looking at the quality of consensus achieved in real-world situations, the effects of incentives and inequality effects of reward distribution), cryptoeconomics (raising inequality, emergent centralisation), large-scale blockchain analytics and forensics, design of blockchain-based systems.

Links: Twitter; Linkedin

Catherine Mulligan is currently Professor of Computer Science at the Instituto Superior Técnico at the University of Lisbon and Director of the newly established lab called DCentral. She is a regular presenter on emerging technologies in media and at events with previous speaking engagements at GSMA Mobile World Congress, ITU, OECD, Chatham House, UK Parliament, BBC TV/Radio and World Service. She is a sought-after technology advisor for NGOs, governments, start-ups and corporations. Cathy has had a long interest and track record in applying digital technology to achieve sustainability outcomes, including a Masters in Engineering for Sustainable Development from the University of Cambridge (2006). She completed her PhD at Cambridge on The Communications Industries in the Era of Convergence, and led projects in India, Malaysia, Singapore, London and the EU as well as participating in high level policy discussions across NGOs, UN, OECD and European Commission. She was a member of the UNSG’s High Level Panel for Digital Cooperation during 2019 and is a current member of the World Economic Forum’s Data Policy Global Futures Council. Cathy is an Honorary Senior Researcher at UCL within the Department of Computer Science and also leads the MBA Elective “Digital Transformation – Leading Real-World Change” at Imperial College Business School. She was previously the Co-Director of the Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering and led a number of high impact grants in the Digital Economy across the world including India, Malaysia, EU, Australia and UK; her research approach is deep understanding of the end-user communities who lead the co-creation process.


Marcus O’Dair is a writer, consultant and academic interested in creativity and innovation management, particularly from a whole systems perspective. With a PhD in collective authorship, he has been carrying out research into what is now called Web3 since setting up the Blockchain for Creative Industries research cluster at Middlesex University in 2016. Marcus is currently Associate Dean of Knowledge Exchange at University of the Arts London (UAL), consistently named the best university in the world for undergraduate art and design education. In this role he leads knowledge exchange for 200 academics, working with partners from Nike to IBM. He has been awarded over a million pounds in funding for his own academic work. Marcus is a Fellow of Enterprise Educators UK and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. As well as journal articles, book chapters and reports, Marcus is the author of Distributed Creativity: How Blockchain Will Transform the Creative Economy (Palgrave 2019).


Paolo Giudici is an artist & researcher based in Padua (Italy).

Olly Jones is the VP of Partnerships for Palm NFT Studio, where he’s responsible for building out an ecosystem of leading NFT services to design, create and launch exciting Fan Engagement projects. Olly spent more than a decade in the Fintech payments space, both in Europe and in the US. Before joining Palm, Olly ran an innovation lab for a NYSE listed Tech Company focused on building new ways to mobile communicate with consumers in a post-pandemic world.

Links: Linkedin

Kristof Timmerman is a designer and director of digital performances and installations, working in the field of live, interactive digital environments and virtual reality. He worked for several theatre companies, including the experimental CREW. In 2006 he founded the digital artist collective studio.POC. Kristof is the chair and coordinator of MAXlab at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and is connected to the Immersive Lab of the AP University College, where he organizes the annual summer school ‘Storytelling in Virtual Reality. An Immersive Encounter’.

Ine Vanoeveren, Doctor of Musical Arts, is a Belgian flautist specialised in contemporary music performance. She performed at numerous contemporary music festivals worldwide and won several international awards and prizes. In addition to performing, Ine is an assistant professor in contemporary music at the Royal Conservatory of Liège and coordinator of CREATIE (Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp). She is part of the digital arts collective studio.POC, where she focuses on hybrid digital performances in virtual surroundings.

Links: Empty Mind; Dissolution

Adam Łukawski is a music composer and computer programmer. In his doctoral research at Orpheus Institute and Leiden University he implements a new music taxonomy inspired by the periodicity of Shepard tones in a new computer software for composing blockchain-based music networks with the use of machine learning. Adam studied music composition with Richard Ayres, and Willem Jeths at Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and with Julian Anderson at Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London. He wrote works for ensembles including Exaudi Vocal Ensemble, Maat Saxophone Quartet, Score Collective, and often collaborates in an interdisciplinary context with graphic artists, dancers, choreographers and theatre directors. His works are published by Donemus Publishing in The Hague.

Diane Drubay has been working towards the transformation of museums and the arts internationally since 2007 through various communities, conferences and change programs. Founder of We AreMuseums, a community-powered think-tank on the future of museums good for people and the Planet. Visual artist nudging for nature-awareness and better futures. Web3 futures explorer and main advisor for the arts and culture for the Tezos ecosystem and the artist-led gallery alterHEN.

Links:;; Linkedin

Kosmas Giannoutakis (b. 1985 in Thessaloniki, Greece) studied piano and percussion performance, composition, and computer music in Greece, Germany, and Austria. Currently, he is attending the Ph.D. Electronic Arts program at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a focus on experimental, commons-centric modes of music creation with Distributed Ledger Technologies. His works have been presented and received awards at numerous international festivals and conferences.

Juan Carlos Vasquez is an award-winning composer, sound artist, and researcher. His electroacoustic music works are performed constantly around the world and to date have premiered in more than 30 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. Vasquez has received grants and commissions from numerous institutions, including the ZKM, the International Computer Music Association, the Nokia Research Center, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Ministry of Culture of Colombia, the Arts Promotion Centre in Finland, the Finnish National Gallery, and CW+ in partnership with the Royal College of Music in London, UK. As a researcher, Vasquez’s writings can be found in the Computer Music Journal (MIT Press), Leonardo Music Journal (MIT Press), and the proceedings of all the standard conferences of the field (ICMC, CHI, SMC, and NIME). Vasquez’s scores are published by Babel Scores, and his music is distributed by Naxos, MIT Press (US), Important Records (US) and Phasma Music (Poland).

Links: Chain Compositions;;


Paulo de Assis

Orpheus Institute, Ghent

Can't Knock the Hustle: NTFs and Creativity

Catherine Mulligan

Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon

From Blockchains to NFTs:

Decentralised (?) Platforms for Unique (?) Content Distribution

Claudio J. Tessone
UZH Blockchain Center, University of Zurich

The Value of Art and Music NFTs: A Pluralist Perspective

Marcus O’Dair
Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London

DAOism for Artistic Research

Paolo Giudici
Royal College of Art, London

Current Trends in NFTs

Olly Jones

VP Partnerships

Collaborative Electroacoustic Music Composition on the Blockchain

Kosmas Giannoutakis
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York

Juan Carlos Vasquez
Independent composer, sound artist, and researcher

(e)CO-CREATION: Multidisciplinary Co-creation as a Catalyst for a Meta-Ecosystem within the Digital Arts

Kristof Timmerman
Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp

Ine Vanoeveren
Royal Conservatory of Liège and Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp

Workshop: Mint and Auction Your Music NFTs

Adam Łukawski
Orpheus Institute and Leiden University

Tezos Ecosystem

Diane Drubay
TZ Connect and Tezos ecosystem, Berlin

image: Damien Hirst, My Art Gallery, 2016 (

MetamusicX, Orpheus Institute, Ghent 2022