Can selling a meme NFT really guarantee you generational wealth?

I know we have all seen the ”Random man becomes billionaire by flipping a photo of an ape online” headlines. While I have my own reservations about monkey photos (a different discussion for a different day), the concept of investing and flipping isn’t something new. Many wealthy people have utilized this method for years — especially in industries like real estate. But is this method really feasible for the average person trying to build wealth? And is this all NFTs will be? Investing and flipping? Or is there something more?

For most, this method is very risky and people have lost thousands of dollars trying to implement it to attain wealth. It takes a lot of research and understanding of the market and current temperature of the NFT community. Since most people don’t have that knowledge at hand (something I am trying to fix with columns like this one), they are being gaslighted by scammers to invest in projects that will be the next Bored Ape, with a guarantee they’ll make millions like what they have seen in the headlines. This essentially has painted NFTs in a negative light as scams. In reality, NFTs themselves aren’t the issue — it’s hackers and scammers taking advantage of people who are trying to get in on a get-rich-quick flip.

So, if NFTs are not just photos, then where does the real value come from? Well, the process of minting an NFT is taking something and turning it into a digital asset that is backed by blockchain technology to create a digital certificate of ownership. This means NFTs are not limited to just PFP photos. They can be used for physical assets such as homes, designer items and artwork. Even though the intent of NFTs is way more than flipping PFP photos, we can’t ignore that this is one of the current methods being implemented to make a lot of money quickly. Just know that it’s not the only way to do it, and to be honest I don’t even think that was the original intent when people were constructing the Web3 space.

Web3 was created to give ownership back to individual users, theoretically allowing equal access for everyone to utilize the technology — and I just don’t think flipping PFP photos falls in line with that. I want the world to see that this technology isn’t just helping randoms become millionaires or allowing the wealthy to get wealthier, BUT also providing an avenue for people who didn’t have many opportunities before.

The side of NFTs most people don’t see is artists and creatives FINALLY being able to make a living from their artwork. Not having to work three part-time jobs or get into a career that they hate just to support themselves while trying to pursue their dream. A Black female Web3 rap artist named Latasha, who has previously opened for big acts like Kanye West, often discusses how she wasn’t able to make a living from her music despite huge exposure opportunities until she entered Web3. Now she is able to create and support herself financially thanks to the structure of blockchain technology. This technology also allows artists to no longer have to sign over full ownership of everything they have created to a label in exchange for money to push their albums. Many artists we grew up loving have discussed their issues with labels and seeing little to no money despite having sold millions of records. Ashanti, being one of those musicians, recently rerecorded her landmark debut album and sold it as an NFT to her audience since she did not own her masters. The move allowed her to not only maintain ownership of her work, but get royalties every time an item is resold to someone else. This technology provides a gateway for artists to create, own and have their community essentially be “investors” in the entire process.

There is a platform that focuses on “dance NFTs,” providing choreographers ownership of the dance routines they create. Imagine if this platform came out before Tik Tok and all of the Black creators who have curated billions of impressions from their dance challenges minted their routines on this platform. They would be able to get proper monetization for the trends they create and keep ownership without culture vultures doing those same dance moves (and getting invited to late night talk shows to perform them).

This technology allows underrepresented groups to reclaim their time like never before by putting the power of ownership back into our hands. This power not only provides a steady way of life for creatives and artists but will birth generational empires. A Black female artist named Nyla Hayes has become a multi-millionaire from selling her artwork as NFTs. What does this mean for an artist like Nyla? She no longer has to choose stability over her passion, she no longer has to compromise her values to get an investor, she no longer has to hand over ownership of her artwork to get exposure for a sale. It means that she has a CHOICE when it comes to her art and that choice is only available when you have OWNERSHIP.

Ownership is something that has been the demise of Black creatives for years — we have gotten into bad contracts and deals where we relinquish power because of a lack of knowledge and the need for resources to live or push our careers. Thanks to blockchain technology, there no longer has to be a choice of giving up your ownership to become a successful artist — you can do BOTH in Web3. Do entertainment executives and labels like this? NO. Will this disrupt the entertainment industry as we know it? YES. But it’s time the power is given back to those who curate the entire culture and that’s US.

So to go back to the original question at hand: Are NFTs the route to generational wealth? Yes. They will provide creatives access to utilize their communities to curate a life where their art will last for decades. And, thanks to blockchain technology, their families will EAT off their art for years to come.