For decades, readers have come to love many of the covers of the Georgia Straight and its sister publication, NOW magazine in Toronto.
In a few instances, some of Canada’s most famous musical artists, writers, and actors have been delighted to autograph individual copies of themselves on the cover of the Straight.
Back in 1992, singer-songwriter k. d. lang was one such example. In her message on the cover, she expressed her appreciation for all the years of support that she had received from the Straight.
Also in 1992, the late Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler signed the 25th-anniversary cover of the Straight, which featured him with a cigarette in his mouth.
All the members of Blue Rodeo signed a 1989 cover of the Straight; nine years later, it was Sarah McLachlan’s turn—the same year that she launched her landmark Lilith Fair tour showcasing female musicians.
Now the company that owns the Straight and NOW, Media Central Corporation, is making digital versions of these and five other covers available as one-of-a-kind digital non-fungible tokens, also known as NFTs.
Buyers who purchase Georgia Straight or NOW magazine NFTs will have a record and a hashtag code proving their ownership of these unique assets. In the future, the owners can sell these NFTs if they choose to do so.
What’s are NFTs, you may ask?
They are unique digital assets that are part of the Ethereum blockchain. And they are an extension of the types of investments that people have traditionally made in other collectibles, such as baseball cards, Beanie Babies, and vintage comic books.
One of the largest sales came in March when Mike Winkelmann—the digital artist known as Beeple—sold an NFT through Christie’s for US$69 million. This price was paid for Beeple’s purely digital work of art, Everydays: The First 5000 Days.
Media Central board chair Manos Pavlakis pointed out in a company news release that there’s a growing understanding of the investment value of NFTs and how they can become appreciating assets.
“As we track the rapid evolution of media, it is evident that crypto as a currency and the blockchain as a secure place to record and store transactions will play a role in the future of media and the purchasing habits of consumers,” Pavlakis said.
The other Straight autographed cover that’s available as an NFT features actor, writer, director, and producer Seth Rogen, who has become one of Vancouver’s most beloved entertainment icons.
The NOW covers available as NFTs include pop artist Grimes, who hails from Vancouver, as well as Drake, Arcade Fire, and Daniel Caesar.
“The generational popularity of the Georgia Straight and NOW magazine, spanning nearly 100 years…is our first attempt to take advantage of the opportunity that NFTs provide for diversified revenue growth,” Pavlakis said.
Media Central’s decision to market NFTs aligns with its overall strategy to develop new digital revenue models while still showcasing the quality of its print and digital products.
Another innovation came earlier this year when the company launched its Creatornews.com arts and entertainment aggregation site. It features articles from the Georgia Straight and NOW magazine, as well as pieces from other publications and websites from around the world.
Media Central stated that its NFTs are stored in digital wallets, which can be found at MetaMask.io. People bid for the NFTs and the company decides whether to accept them after they’ve been placed.
“We have no illusions that future NFT sales, for us, will be akin to winning the lottery,” Media Central president Kirk MacDonald said in the company’s news release. “That said, we do have confidence that we have novel digital assets that will appeal to NFT buyers and allow them to own a slice of history in our communities.”