Anything and everything you hold dear is at risk of being converted into a Web3 cash grab, even the nostalgia-inducing music-piracy platforms of our youth. Take LimeWire, which has been bought up by an entrepreneurial duo in Austria with the intention of transforming it into an NFT marketplace, of all things.
Brothers Paul and Julian Zehetmayr are hoping the name still carries enough weight among millennials to attract waves of users to their crypto music platform, which will traffic in music-based NFTs like "exclusive songs, merchandise, graphical artworks and experiences like backstage content," according to Bloomberg. The company, which will retain the LimeWire name and branding, will also sell a crypto token of its own before the platform's launch in May. They have slowly been buying up various parts of the company and its trademarks using their own money, though they may raise outside investment at some point.
“It’s a very iconic name. Even if you look on Twitter today, there’s hundreds of people still being nostalgic about the name,” Julian Zehetmayr, who will be the startup's co-CEO alongside his brother, told Bloomberg. “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.”
The irony of resurrecting a music-piracy site as an NFT marketplace — at a time of arguably peak skepticism around the viability and mainstream appeal of Web3 technologies — is not lost on the brothers. They think LimeWire's name will be more inviting to crypto skeptics thanks to its storied history as a haven for young internet pirates eager to expand their musical horizons.
"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 told Bloomberg. The duo hopes the platform will also attract musicians by promising more equitable payouts to artists; the company said 10 "really big mainstream” artists are on board for the launch.
For those of us who think fondly of LimeWire and its contemporaries like BearShare and Kazaa as not-so-legal gateways to endless music discovery, it's bittersweet. Those brands are obviously toxic in the music industry, and the websites and platforms they represented were litigated into nonexistence. But to see one rear its head so many years later as a way to hawk NFTs doesn't feel like the right way to honor internet history.
It does, however, make perfect sense for the Web3 movement, which appears immune to shame and dead set on making us believe in a crypto future, one brand takeover at a time.