And Finally Business News Digital

LimeWire to relaunch as NFT marketplace

By | Published on Wednesday 9 March 2022


Just as Kanye West makes music piracy mainstream again, LimeWire is back. Perfect timing! Although, this time LimeWire is not actually aiming to be the scourge of the music industry. It’s aiming to the scourge of the planet instead, by relaunching as a music-focussed NFT marketplace.

The all-new LimeWire reckons that the big problem with NFTs is that not enough people can access them because of the technical hurdles – not least needing to know how to get hold of some delicious cryptocurrency. So, when it launches in May, it will list prices for its music-centric NFTs in US dollars instead and then handle all the complicated tech stuff behind the scenes. So, you’ll just be a credit card transaction away from pretending that you own a thing.

LimeWire is being relaunched by Vienna-based brothers Julian and Paul Zehetmayr – who are also behind a number of other online companies, including Eversign, ZeroSSL and Stack Holdings. According to Bloomberg, they’ve spent “most of last year steadily acquiring the various parts of LimeWire’s branding”.

And why not? What a brand to control! Well, apart from the whole it being the scourge of the music industry thing. But this time it’s going to be the saviour of the music industry, see? Certainly the brand’s new owners are keen to stress that the relaunched LimeWire will not be involved in any of the bad stuff, and will instead be offering artists some of the good stuff.

Julian Zehetmayr says: “In an increasingly difficult industry with streaming taking over and ownership taking a back seat, we are working to put artists [in control] and give them full flexibility and control when it comes to their content. It’s important to note that we are not relaunching LimeWire as an alternative to streaming platforms, but rather as an additional channel for artists to sell exclusive music and art directly to collectors. We will also offer a unique method for artists to connect and engage with their most loyal community of fans”.

Paul Zehetmayr adds: “The biggest challenge with digital collectibles and the broader crypto market in general is that it’s really limited to a small group of savvy users. There are big players on the market already, but the entry barrier is still too big to allow for mainstream adoption”.

“If you are an average music fan on the internet”, he goes on, “you might not own any cryptocurrency or have access to a crypto wallet, let alone understand the mechanics of collectibles on the blockchain. We want to remove all those obstacles and make it easy for people to participate, while at the same time offering an exciting platform for crypto natives”.

The company launches with several music industry figures on its advisory board, including General Manager of Wu-Tang Clan’s Wu Music Group, Tareef Michael; former Def Jam A&R Pedro Genao; and artist managers Brett Fischer and Jeanine McLean.

This isn’t the first attempt to use the LimeWire brand for a legit music service, of course. After realising that being a conduit for illegal file-sharing might not be a great long-term business (though tell that to The Pirate Bay), the original LimeWire company tried to pivot itself into a licensed music platform.

There was apparently a positive response to that legal LimeWire service, in theory at least, from some record label execs, but by then the bosses and the lawyers at the majors had already resolved to sue the company out of business and couldn’t be bothered to change their minds.

So, in 2010, the LimeWire company announced that it was closing its doors. A year later it settled out of court with the major labels for a cool $105 million. Then in 2012 a further settlement was reached with indie label rep Merlin. Shortly after that there was an amusing aside when it was reported that the RIAA was pushing for its damages to be increased to a total of more money than exists in the entire world. Which I think was the last time that LimeWire was fun.

Will LimeWire becoming a mainstream NFT marketplace see the brand return to being fun? Almost certainly not. After all, there is nothing fun about NFTs. And the last thing the world needs is more of them. Literally. But, hey, if you’re for some reason into the idea, the new LimeWire is set to properly launch in May. You can check it out here.