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A website claimed to sell popular songs as NFTs. Some artists say the site never got their permission.

Following the backlash, the website HitPiece on Wednesday displayed a seven-word statement on its homepage: “We Started The Conversation And We’re Listening.”
Image: Max Collins and Jon Siebels of Eve 6 perform in Los Angeles on on July 19, 2015.
Max Collins and Jon Siebels of Eve 6 perform in Los Angeles in July 2015. The band wrote in a tweet that "this site ‘hitpiece’ is selling nft’s of our band and MANY others without permission."Jeff Golden / Getty Images file

A website called HitPiece garnered backlash this week after some artists pointed out that the site was claiming to sell iconic songs as NFTs without their permission.

NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, of legendary music, including songs by Britney Spears and BTS, were up for grabs on HitPiece. But, as a handful of artists said Tuesday on Twitter, the platform doesn't own any of the music, nor does it have permission to sell the work as NFTs.

Following the backlash, the site displayed a seven-word statement on its homepage Wednesday: "We Started The Conversation And We’re Listening."

HitPiece was launched by former Sony employee and music label owner Rory Felton and music executive and former rapper Michael Berrin, and it is backed by venture capitalists Ryan Singer and Blake Modersitzki.

In a statement on its Twitter account, HitPiece said it was "committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels, and fans alike."

"Clearly we have struck a nerve and are very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans," the website wrote in its tweet.

Singer did not directly address the backlash when he was asked for comment.

“NFT’s aren’t immune to bad actors using them to scam people,” he wrote in a statement. “That said, just like verified channels on youtube reduced copyright fraud, so will artists minting their own NFT’s preemptively and building out their metaverse identity and brand.”

Felton and Modersitzki did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Reached by email, Berrin directed NBC News to contact The Rose Group, a reputation management company. The Rose Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An archived version of HitPiece’s website says artists who created the music being sold would receive royalties from the sales.

“Each time an artist’s NFT is purchased or sold, a royalty from each transaction is accounted to the rights holders account,” the website reads.

Although the website is defunct, HitPiece’s LinkedIn page remains up. It describes the platform as a community where "you, the music fan, can purchase one-of-one unique music NFT’s from your favorite artists."

"Our one-of-one music NFT’s include either the original release artwork or bespoke generative cover art and can consist of access to experiences, exclusives, and additional utility found nowhere else," it says.

HitPiece's archived website described "one-of-one" NFTs as "one-of-a-kind NFT’s,” adding: “Other NFTs may be serialized or one of many copies. HitPiece NFT’s are one-of-ones and are the only NFTs for that unique recording in HitPiece."

The archived site shows NFTs of songs like "Killing Floor" by Jimi Hendrix, "Money" by the singer LiSA and "Jammin' (Live At The Pavillon De Paris)" by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

What artists are saying

As the site took off, artists on Twitter called out HitPiece for selling their music as NFTs without permission.

"apparently a lot of my music’s been stolen and put up as NF*s on this platform called hitpiece," artist Louie Zong tweeted.

The musician CZARINA tweeted that while she had hoped to focus on her coming album, she is now preoccupied with her music’s being listed on HitPiece.

The singer Ted Leo tweeted that he hadn’t approved HitPiece to list his music as NFTs.

"Bottom feeding scavengers of late capitalism sucking the last marrow from our bones and/or running a scam on me, you, or everyone, because obviously, I didn’t approve this, and apparently neither did anyone else you’ll see on the site," Leo wrote.

The singer Nat Puff, better known as Left at London, tweeted that HitPiece owed her money, specifying that she did not want cryptocurrency from it.

"I have a lawyer @joinhitpiece. do you want to meet her?" she wrote.

The rock band Eve 6 described the NFTs being sold on HitPiece as "fraud."

"this site ‘hitpiece’ is selling nft’s of our band and MANY others without permission," the band wrote in a tweet, adding that "nft’s are fraud."

The hip-hop band Clipping tweeted that it wanted its music removed from the site.

"Thanks for the heads up," the band tweeted. "We’re looking into what we can do to get it taken down."