LimeWire has signed a new partnership with Universal Music Group that will allow the record giant’s artists to use the NFT marketplace to sell and market music-focused NFTs, it was announced on Tuesday (May 17). This marks the first major-label partnership for the newly rebooted LimeWire, which relaunched as an NFT marketplace in March.
Under the partnership, UMG will provide content licenses to LimeWire, enabling the marketplace to partner with UMG artists to sell audio recordings, audiovisual content, artwork, bonus tracks and more directly to fans. Collectibles from these artists can be purchased with a credit card, and the LimeWire platform will handle gas fees and “technical hurdles on behalf of its users,” according to a press release.
Originally founded as a peer-to-peer file-sharing site in 2000, LimeWire, along other similar sites like Napster, quickly upended the music business following a decade of massive growth. Hosting a myriad of free, pirated music and other files, LimeWire and others are often cited for causing recorded music sales to plummet from their all-time high of $14.6 billion in 1999 to just $7 billion by the time LimeWire shuttered its business in 2010 — a result of a 4 year-long legal battle against the record labels and the RIAA.
In March 2022, however, LimeWire reemerged under new ownership — namely tech entrepreneurs Paul and Julian Zehetmayr — and announced plans to revamp the brand into a curated marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The announcement, interestingly, repositions LimeWire’s reputation from a platform of limitless file sharing to one of limited purchases. Unlike under its previous owners, LimeWire is no longer fighting against the recorded music industry but working in conjunction with it.
In April, LimeWire announced it had raised $10.4 million in a private sale of its LMWR token, led by several large VC firms. Also participating were Deadmau5’s 720Mau5 venture fund and DAO Jones, a group of music industry investors that includes Steve Aoki.
In a statement, UMG executive vp of digital business development & strategy Jonathan Dworkin noted his appreciation for LimeWire’s focus on “guiding everyday users into this expansive arena.” He added, “Universal Music Group has always prioritized its artists’ creativity and valued fans’ desire to engage in innovative new ways. Now, NFTs are providing an exciting vehicle to enhance this connection between artists and audiences. This is why we are delighted to have partnered with LimeWire.”
Paul and Julian Zehetmayr added, “We see this partnership as a true demonstration of the pace at which the music industry is embracing Web3. We’re thrilled to open up the LimeWire NFT ecosystem to Universal Music Group artists and fans and can’t wait to see the first creative projects being launched on the marketplace.”