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Photo Credit: Andrey Metelev

Berlin-based non-fungible token (NFT) startup Fuel has closed a $1.66 million funding round and outlined its ambitious goal of “building the ‘Shopify for NFTs.’”

Music- and creator-focused Fuel took to social media to unveil its €1.5 million ($1.66 million at the present exchange rate) raise and to tout its emphasis on accessibility and simplicity. The round’s participants include OpenSea backer FintechCollective and London’s Seedcamp.

“At FUEL we have one principle that guides all our product and technology choices: make the complex simple and accessible. We use this principle to lower the barriers of entry for our creators and their fans and fuel NFTs into the mainstream,” Fuel wrote on social media, noting also that its team is preparing a drop with German DJ duo Mat.Joe.

On the latter front, the company’s chief technology officer, former Weezy head of engineering Csongor Barabasi, discussed music NFTs in an interview. The remainder of Fuel’s executive roster features co-founding investors Patrice Deckert (also the founder of Berlin VC Black Eagle Ventures) and Stefan Tietze, owner of the namesake Tietze Capital, as well as former Moonshot Mission CEO Thanh Binh Tran, who co-founded Fuel and serves as chief commercial officer.

“At the same time music NFTs are still in their infancy, which we’re very much surprised about, since music fandom is very strong and brings people together,” Barabasi said in the above-highlighted discussion. “We expect 2022 to be the year of music NFTs.”

Then, addressing the well-documented tendency of internet users to “right click and save” NFT images, Barabasi indicated: “If you think about music, when you buy a vinyl and listen to it at home it just hits differently compared to listening to it on Spotify, because you know you own that vinyl. Now imagine going to a concert and hearing a song that only you, and maybe 30 other people own in the world.

“I guarantee that all those who ‘just right-click-saved’ that song won’t feel the same excitement as you do. Now what if the artist invites everyone who owns the NFT of that song to backstage? Those who just copy-pasted it won’t get in, for sure, because they don’t have proof of ownership,” he concluded.

Fuel is hardly the only non-fungible token platform that’s secured capital in 2022, with music-centered Pianity, the aforementioned OpenSea, and others having closed rounds during the year’s opening quarter.

Similarly, companies and professionals like Universal Music, YouTube, Instagram, Snoop Dogg and his Death Row Records, Coachella, Warner Music, and the Recording Academy are working to cash in on the craze – which hasn’t been free of criticism, setbacks, and lawsuits.