Payments processing firm Mastercard debuted a free Music Pass NFT drop this week amid the annual NFT NYC conference, offering collectors a number of benefits ahead for holding the token. The digital collectible is a part of the Mastercard Artist Accelerator program launched in January.
The Mastercard Music Pass NFT can be minted for free until the end of April. The drop is taking place on Polygon, an Ethereum scaling network that has also been adopted by brands including Starbucks, Nike, and Reddit for various Web3 initiatives.
“If you think about it, it only makes sense to unlock a Web3-centered program with a Web3 technology,” Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, told Decrypt. He added that the accelerator program is "designed to deepen the experience for the music and Web3 enthusiasts."
The Mastercard #ArtistAccelerator uses #Web3 music tools like never before. Join and mint your free Mastercard Music Pass #NFT to access exclusive music content and experiences.
Elevating the next generation of music: #priceless.
— Mastercard (@Mastercard) April 12, 2023
NFTs are blockchain-based tokens linked to digital and physical content, providing proof of ownership, authenticity, or even membership in a group. Musicians and record labels have adopted NFTs into their marketing and fan outreach, with some even releasing songs via NFTs or providing a share of streaming royalties to holders.
Collectors who hold the Mastercard pass will have access ahead features like an AI-powered music generator app, as well as educational material and access to a virtual showcase event in June featuring artists in the company’s accelerator program. And for participating artists, the program is designed to help them learn how to harness Web3 tech.
“This is the first NFT we’ve dropped as part of the accelerator, but there is certainly the potential for others as the participating artists learn how to create their own NFTs as part of the program,” Rajamannar said. “As a brand, this isn’t our first NFT, but it is a very exciting one. We love the combination of form and function.”
Mastercard previously released a collectible NFT in partnership with soccer coach José Mourinho, who served as a global ambassador for the brand at the time. The firm has also made customizable debit cards in partnership with Polygon and Web3 startup Hi, with a tie-in NFT collectible.
Artists participating in the accelerator include Grammy Award-winning artist Cocoa Sarai, R&B singer Young Athena, Latin Grammy nominee singer/songwriter Manu Manzu, Nigerian recording artist LeriQ, and musician Emily Vu.
Mentors in the accelerator program include Polygon Head of Business Development Brian Trunzo, rapper and Zora Head of Programming Latashá, dancer and content creator Nife, Ledger Chief Experience Officer Ian Rodger, and producer/songwriter Tushar Apte.
Following the planned showcase with the artists in the accelerator program, Rajamannar said that Mastercard plans to keep building and experimenting in Web3.
"We’ll continue to explore Web3 tools, testing and learning as we go," he said, "and identifying new places to innovate and engage with new technologies."
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to correct that the planned event in June is virtual.