LimeWire is coming back, this time as an NFT marketplace for music

9 Mar 2022

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The discontinued file-sharing service will be relaunched this May as an NFT trading platform with a focus on music.

LimeWire is being resuscitated as an NFT marketplace more than a decade after the file-sharing platform was shut down following a lengthy legal battle with the US music industry over piracy claims.

Austrian entrepreneur brothers Paul and Julian Zehetmayr are planning to relaunch the service this May after buying the intellectual property and assets last year.

Future Human

The brothers said LimeWire will relaunch as a marketplace for trading NFTs with a focus on music. It will allow users to buy or trade rare music-related items such as limited editions, unreleased demos and digital merchandise.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital files with ownership recorded and verified using blockchain technology. After a surge in interest last year, the NFT market surpassed an estimated $40bn in value.

Why was LimeWire shut down?

At its peak, LimeWire was one of the most popular platforms for peer-to-peer file-sharing, letting users download music and other content for free.

The only problem was, unlike current subscription-based streaming services such as Spotify and Netflix, LimeWire didn’t pay artists for their work.

This led to the company being heavily criticised by record labels. It was sued in 2006 by the Recording Industry Association of America and a five-year legal battle culminated in the service being shut down indefinitely in 2010.

Now, the Zehetmayr brothers aim to revive LimeWire by jumping on the nascent NFT trend. They plan to give up to 90pc of revenue to the artists and hope to have 1m subscribers within the first year, according to Reuters.

Why NFT?

For a platform that was criticised for damaging the music industry, LimeWire relaunching in the NFT space after more than a decade of inactivity is designed to give artists more control over digital copies of their work, with greater potential for remuneration.

According to CNBC, the company is aiming for an accessible approach towards NFTs, with prices listed in US dollars rather than crypto and users being able to purchase tokens using credit cards.

LimeWire will have an advisory board with representation from the music industry, including names such as Tareef Michael, manager of the rap group Wu-Tang Clan.

Julian Zehetmayr, who is co-CEO along with his brother, told CNBC that the issue with the NFT market the way it is currently is that “most platforms are currently decentralised”.

“If you look at bitcoin, all the exchanges are making it really easy to buy, trade and sell bitcoin. There’s no one really doing the same in the NFT space,” he said.

“We’ve obviously got this great mainstream brand that everybody’s nostalgic about. We thought we needed to build a real mainstream user experience as well.”

The brothers have funded LimeWire with money they raised from their previous ventures. Their software company Apilayer was acquired by US holding company Idera last year.

The new LimeWire team will be based across Austria, Germany and the UK.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com