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How the $4M Wu-Tang Clan album was sold onchain

PleasrDAO sells 250K album NFTs with 1 in 3 buyers paying with credit card

How the $4M Wu-Tang Clan album was sold onchain

The world’s most expensive album is now onchain

Even better, it's accessible to anyone, even if they’ve never touched crypto before. Here’s how it happened.


Ten years ago, The Wu-Tang Clan produced a single physical copy of their album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. The album came with strict terms stating it could not be streamed or downloaded for 88 years, until 2103. This was done to make a statement on how streaming had reduced music’s intrinsic value to zero.

The album became akin to a piece of fine art, and sold at auction for $2 million to Martin Shkreli. When Shkreli was eventually jailed for securities fraud, the album was seized and auctioned off by the Department of Justice. 

At this point, it was purchased by PleasrDAO - a digital art collective - for $4 million. 

Wu-Tang onchain 

For the next few years, only a select number of people got to listen to it in person. But then, PleasrDAO came up with an experiment that could only happen onchain. 

PleasrDAO cut a deal with Wu-Tang stipulating that if they sold $28 million album NFTs, the full album would be released to NFT holders. With each $1 NFT purchase, the release clock moves forward by 88 seconds. Wu-Tang receives a share of the proceeds, however, the exact terms are unclear.

Once purchased, buyers can listen to a specially mixed sample of the album. 

They also receive their own Wu-Tang style nickname and a spot on a leaderboard that tracks how much time each purchaser has knocked off the 88-year countdown. 

But perhaps most importantly, buyers get to participate in a unique cultural experiment; one whose ending is uncertain. 

Opening up access 

Historically, a sale like this would only be accessible to the small percentage of people who already owned crypto. Since the PleasrDAO team integrated Crossmint checkout, this wasn’t the case.   

In a few clicks, anyone could buy the album with a credit card or Apple Pay. The process was as easy as buying something on Amazon. 

At the time of this writing, almost 250,000 NFTs were minted, with roughly 1 in 3 buyers doing so with a credit card.

Music’s onchain future 

This initiative shows how onchain music can help artists forge new kinds of relationships with fans and bypass value-extracting middlemen. In this case, Wu-Tang’s work is being sold directly to fans, all without a streaming service or distribution company earning a dime. 

Experiments around crypto and music date back to 2014, however the major barriers to entry have now eroded. Blockchains have scaled, and with simpler onboarding, everyday people can participate. 

The combination has set the stage for the next thousand experiments and, eventually, mainstream adoption. We’ve already helped fuel onchain music projects with Snoop Dogg, Jack Harlow, and The Jackson 5, with many more to follow in their footsteps.

The saga continues 

As far as the Wu-Tang album is concerned, the future is unclear. 

Even after ~250,000 sales, the clock still stands at 78+ years. That said, the Pleasr team has made it clear that the experiment is just getting started.

Whatever comes next, Crossmint’s suite of tools will be there to help more people participate.

Building to bring music onchain?

Contact our sales team, or learn more about Crossmint wallets, minting, and payments