Bringing Digital Collectibles to the $1B Global Vinyl Record Market

By Anastasia Samaras

This week we announced that the world-renowned Hip-hop music and merchandising company Ruffnation Entertainment has joined Upstream to bring blockchain authenticity and Web 3.0 experiences to the resurging vinyl record community.

Ruffnation aims to integrate digital collectibles (NFTs) into their vinyl sales strategies by creating a vinyl collectors’ storefront to bridge the physical collectors’ community with the digital collectors’ community using Upstream’s carbon-neutral, user-friendly exchange.

By partnering with Upstream, Ruffnation aims to bring blockchain-enforced authenticity to the vinyl record collector community. Through Ruffnation’s existing collection and their recently signed deal with independent music company MNRK Entertainment, Upstream gains access to world-class music creators who now have access to Upstream’s NFT creator tools.

Welcome Ruffnation

“The global market for vinyl sales is showing no sign of slowing down, the trajectory will keep building momentum as more pressing plants come online,” says Ruffnation CEO and Founder Chris Schwartz.

Ruffnation Records, founded in 1999 by Chris Schwartz, is the pioneering hip-hop label that discovered Cypress Hill, Nas, the Fugees, Lauryn Hill, and other major hip-hop artists.

Ruffnation has sold over 189 million records worldwide generating over a billion dollars in sales and a multitude of Grammy Awards.

Schwartz, CEO, and Founder is the recipient of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Science Governor’s Award, The Dyana S. Williams Lifetime Achievement Award, and The Wyclef Jean Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

The company’s current focus is on its surging vinyl service and storefronts.

Modern Authentication for a Market in High Demand

Vinyl records have been on the rise for years and are currently trending across multiple generations of music lovers who crave an authentic, nostalgic experience.

While it’s incredible that we’re seeing such a resurgence of a facet of music listening dating back to the 1800s, it doesn’t hurt to modernize the approach.

NFTs, a newer facet of the collectors’ community, can offer a certification of authenticity and an immutable record of ownership as a record changes hands.

According to Schwartz, “Authenticity and Chain of Title will entice collectors to keep their transactions recorded on the blockchain as it enhances the value of the actual vinyl collectible. Blockchains are irrefutable, tamper-proof, and incorruptible. From the initial offering verified on the blockchain to the commissioned transactions every time a registered vinyl collectible is sold, the real world applications of the blockchain provide an entirely new distribution revenue channel for the artist and label outside of traditional physical and online sales.”

The marketing and distribution offered by the blockchain integration are part and parcel of Ruffnation’s Vinyl Subscription and Specialty Interest Retail initiative set to launch this fall.

As a leading supplier of vinyl records as well as having partnered with a State-of-the-Art vinyl pressing plant specializing in audiophile-grade records, Schwartz knows the importance of authentication and is thrilled to work with Upstream to introduce immutable ownership records along with a unique way for collectors to engage with their records through digital collectible NFTs.

Simplifying NFTs on Upstream

Vinyl collectors can expect to experience Upstream’s unique NFT integrations including geofenced NFTs available within a certain digital boundary, promotional NFTs, and commemorative audio NFTs to collect alongside physical vinyl records.

Vinyl Records are widely known for their visual characteristics. The jacket usually has artwork on both the front and back. Some album covers even become timeless cultural icons.

Upstream will work collaboratively with Ruffnation to introduce a new way for collectors to interact with their records through the use of digital collectible NFTs.

Fans on Upstream may seamlessly purchase NFTs using PayPal, debit, credit, USDC digital currency, and traditional bank payments. Upstream is 100% carbon neutral and doesn’t charge users gas fees.

Interested parties can learn more at or reach the team at

About Ruffnation:

Ruffnation Entertainment is a Philadelphia-based Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales & Distribution company selling Vinyl Records, Apparel, and Merchandising. The company is an offshoot of the legendary Ruffhouse Records, a Hip-Hop label founded in the late ’80s that went on to become one of Hip-hop’s foundational record labels with artists such as Ms. Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, Cypress Hill, Nas, DMX, Kris Kross, and others. Learn more at

About Upstream:

Upstream, a MERJ Exchange Market, is a fully regulated global stock exchange for digital securities. Powered by Horizon’s proprietary matching engine technology, the exchange will enable investors to trade NFTs, shares in IPOs, crowdfunded companies, U.S. & Int’l. equities, and celebrity ventures directly from the app: Interested issuers can reach the team at

About MERJ:

MERJ Exchange (MERJ) operates Upstream as a fully regulated and licensed integrated securities exchange, clearing system and depository for digital and non-digital securities. MERJ is an affiliate of the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), recognized by HM Revenue and Customs UK, a full member of the Association of National Numbering Agencies (ANNA) and a Qualifying Foreign Exchange for OTC Markets in the US. MERJ is also a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative. Visit to learn more.

About Horizon:

Horizon is a fintech company that builds and powers global securities exchanges with an integrated suite of software for compliant issuance, management, and secondary trading of securities. Our in-house solutions combine Wall Street and Silicon Valley to power the next generation of securities offerings and trading in the U.S. and globally. Learn more at




*NFTs received have no economic value, royalties, equity ownership, or dividends. NFTs are for utility, collection, and display only.

*U.S. investors are not permitted to trade in upstream listed securities. U.S. and Canadian citizens will only be able to trade in a security they currently own that has listed on upstream for liquidation only.

Upstream is a MERJ Exchange market. MERJ Exchange is a licensed Securities Exchange, an affiliate of the World Federation of Exchanges and full member of ANNA. MERJ supports global issuers of traditional and digital securities through the entire asset life cycle from issuance to trading, clearing, settlement and registry. It operates a fair and transparent marketplace in line with international best practice and principles of operations of financial markets. Upstream does not endorse or recommend any public or private securities bought or sold on its app. Upstream does not offer investment advice or recommendations of any kind. All services offered by Upstream are intended for self-directed clients who make their own investment decisions without aid or assistance from Upstream. All customers are subject to the rules and regulations of their jurisdiction. By accessing the site or app, you agreed to be bound by its terms of use and privacy policy. Company and security listings on Upstream are only suitable for investors who are familiar with and willing to accept the high risk associated with speculative investments, often in early and development stage companies. There can be no assurance the valuation of any particular company’s securities is accurate or in agreement with the market or industry comparative valuations. Investors must be able to afford market volatility and afford the loss of their investment. Companies listed on Upstream are subject to significant ongoing corporate obligations including, but not limited to disclosure, filings and notification requirements, as well compliance with applicable quantitative and qualitative listing standards.

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