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  • Writer's pictureKate Brunotts

The Birth of Crypto Boy: NFTs As Social Capital

A TikTok demo turned viral hit, Salem Ilese’s Crypto Boy is picking up speed without any signs of slowing down. This music NFT has garnered hundred of backers from crypto and music lovers alike, enabling Salem to donate over $160,000 to The Center for Reproductive Rights.

Salem’s drop is paving the way for musicians to build social capital that’s valuable for their niche audiences. Below, we’ll explore what makes this drop so exciting and share a couple of other notable NFTs that will serve as a future model of philanthropy in music.

What Is Crypto Boy?

Who would’ve thought the crypto community would band together to purchase a music NFT essentially poking fun at their lifestyle? Popstar Salem Ilese took this concept and ran with it, initially drumming up support through her open verse challenge posted on TikTok:

When fans demanded the release, Salem opted to sell the track as an NFT and flip the narrative to bring attention to reproductive rights: “This attack on reproductive rights is something we should be talking about as loudly as a crypto boy talks about NFTs”.

Fans and crypto boys everywhere minted the song for about 0.1 ETH, or $194.20. 100% of the proceeds were donated to The Center for Reproductive Rights, with the drop raising an impressive $165,000+ for the cause.

If you would like to support reproductive rights, consider supporting the following organizations:

So, What’s The Big Deal With Crypto Boy?

It may not seem like it, but this NFT trailblazes a new earning opportunity for artists. While Music NFTs are becoming more widely accepted, Crypto Boy is uniquely positioned for a couple of key reasons:

  • Artists can use exclusive drops to support causes they believe in. Musicians are in a unique position where they have significant cultural influence. Crypto Boy creates a model for musicians to put their influence to good use.

  • Social capital builds strong communities. Social capital isn’t just philanthropic, it can help your fanbase band together and feel united under a cause.

  • A viral moment can enable artists to assemble their fanbases around a shared issue. Even if an artist doesn’t plan on releasing a song to digital streaming platforms, (such as Spotify) TikTok demos can be converted to social assets with the help of music NFTs.

  • NFTs present new ways to fundraise. As shown by Salem, NFTs can be an effective way to fundraise while still providing value to your supporters.

  • Social good now has resale value. NFTs aren’t just something your fans can enjoy, they also hold resale value. Your fans can unite under a cause while still walking away with something inherently valuable.

Other Artists Using NFTs As Social Capital

Salem Ilese is certainly paving the way for what it means to fundraise as a musician and creator. Check out these other musicians contributing to this new intersection of accessible philanthropy and music:


Producer and artist Grimes recently donated the mint of her music video for New Gods to Unicorn DAO, a DAO dedicated to funding women-identified, non-binary and LGBTIQ+ artists. The DAO co-founder also happens to be the artist behind the Crypto Boy cover art.

Keith Richards

Rolling Stone Keith Richards minted a digital signed guitar for fans on OneOf. The guitar sold for $57,600 and was donated to The Recording Academy charities.


Madonna created a polarizing NFT series with Beeple to benefit Ukrainian children and a leadership organization for women. The series raised over $140,000 for the causes.

Aphex Twin

The experimental artist sold an audiovisual piece for about $140,000 on Foundation. A portion of the proceeds went directly to environmental initiatives.

Mick Jagger

Keith Richards’s bandmate, Mick Jagger is paying it forward by supporting indie music venues that suffered sales throughout the pandemic. The audiovisual piece funded $50k for music venues in need.

And that’s just a few. It’s an exciting time in music history. NFTs aren’t just changing the way fans and artists support each other; they also have the potential to enable artists to use their influence for good.

At Controlla, we’re crafting music technology and interactive experiences to help you connect with your fans as a producer or music creator.

We're launching Season One, allowing artists to transform unreleased songs into interactive games catered to their audiences. They can give it away, sell it to create extra income, or include it as a value-add for top fans. It costs nothing, but space is limited, so act fast and apply for consideration in Season One!

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