NFT Music Company Royal Raises $55-Million Series A Funding From A16Z, Major Artists

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Non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) have seen a massive adoption spike across the realms of art and video games. On-chain music platform Royal has now announced that the company has managed to raise $55 million (roughly Rs. 409.7 crore) in Series A funding led by venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz, also known as a16z. The startup collaborates with musicians and allows users to purchase NFTs, which represent a collective ownership in works by these artists. The Chainsmokers, Nas, Logic, and Kygo are among the musicians who chose to back the project along with a16z crypto.

The project is led by Justin Blau, an EDM artist performing under the stage name 3LAU, and JD Ross, a co-founder of home-buying startup Opendoor. Royal had managed to bring in $16 million (roughly Rs. 119.18 crore) during its seed round in August led by Founders Fund and Paradigm.

Over the past couple of months, Blau ran a test project during which he distributed 333 NFTs to fans through the platform which owned 50 percent of the streaming rights to a new single titled “Worst Case.” The startup claims there have already been nearly $600,000 (roughly Rs. 4.46 crore) in secondary sales for these tokens, giving “Worst Case” an implied valuation of $6 million (roughly Rs. 44.69 crore). Crypto-forward musicians like Blau have already cashed in millions of crypto holders looking to diversify their holdings through NFTs while supporting projects that expand blockchain market opportunities.

“We believe blockchain technology has the ability to transform music ownership the same way the internet has transformed the way music is listened to,” added electronic duo The Chainsmokers in a joint statement.

While Royal's premise of letting fans fund their favourite artist and receive a portion of the royalties in return is promising. It needs to be seen if the company's ability to scale its initial success. Music copyright is complicated and has been the subject of costly lawsuits in the past, that have gone on for decades. Royal's model of cutting out middlemen and using blockchain technology to raise money directly from fans could make the royalty process less problematic, but there are pertinent questions that remain.

The biggest one is: how does Royal dictate the percentage of control owners will retain over their songs? This may prove a little difficult especially with third-party use and advertising while staying on the right side of the law.

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.


Cryptocurrency Will Continue to Face Ransomware, Botnet Attacks in 2021: Sophos Cybersecurity Threat Report

Cybersecurity form Sophos says that attacks such as ransomware will continue to make use of cryptocurrency. Over the past year and a half, ransomware attacks constituted 79 percent of all global cybersecurity breaches, it said. These incidents, investigated and remediated by Sophos' rapid response team, reveal that some of these attacks target crypto investors through fake app login screens.

The Sophos' 2022 Threat Report which was published over the weekend, aims to provide perspective on security threats and trends facing organisations in 2022 and the threat landscape in 2021, with additional insights on possible loopholes that could be breached in the future. The study talks about a mobile malware family that ran riot in 2021 known as Flubot as one of the predominant banking trojans affecting the Android platform.

The malware presents users with fake bank and cryptocurrency app login screens to steal the user's passwords for those services. In addition to robbing bank details, it also steals data like the contact list, which it then uses to spam the victim's friends and associates with messages that can lead to additional Flubot infections.

The malware spreads primarily through SMS text messages and mimics popular shipment tracking services from major international parcel shipment services like DHL, FedEx and UPS. The victim receives SMS alerts with a URL link, and occasionally an SMS that pretends to be a voicemail message – also with a web link.

Sophos also warns that automated botnet attacks like Mirai have gained in prominence too over the years, becoming the vehicle of choice to deliver crypto-mining malware. These bits of code infect various corporate assets such as servers and IoT devices, cyber-criminals can use the collective processing power of hundreds – or thousands – of machines to mine cryptocurrency and spread it to further devices.

“As a method of evading sanctions, cryptocurrencies are well suited to the task, which may be why criminals based in regions of the world that remain under traditional economic sanctions exclusively deal in cryptocurrency. Beyond that, because cryptocurrency is anonymous, it can be difficult to determine where the money ends up,” states the report.

“Sophos believes that the illicit use of cryptocurrency, both to evade sanctions and to obfuscate involvement in criminal activity, will continue to increase in 2022, with ransomware and crypto-jacking being the two most prominent ways that criminals can directly receive cryptocurrency payments from their victims,” the report adds.

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.