Kings of Leon Makes History with Auction of First Music NFT to Go Into Space with Inspiration4

The auction for St. Jude, going live Thursday, includes a meet-and-greet with the civilian SpaceX crew and band, plus seeing Kings of Leon perform in Los Angeles

kings of leon
Kings of Leon. Photo: courtesy kings of leon

Kings of Leon is preparing for a first in space — and supporting charity along the way.

As the all-civilian Inspiration4 crew prepares to blast off to space for a three-day, history-making mission beginning Sept. 15, the band is teaming up with SpaceX for an auction to help raise $200 million for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The auction, which opens Thursday and runs until Sept. 20 at 12 p.m. ET, will feature several fun items, including an AG7 Apollo 11 Limited Edition Space Pen, Space Racers toys and customized jackets featuring artwork from St. Jude patients.

However, the most notable item is a new NFT [non-fungible token] song by Kings of Leon from the group's recent album When You See Yourself.

The all-new live recording of "Time in Disguise" will become the first minted music NFT to go up in space, marking a major milestone not only for the band but also the music industry.

"It means so much to us to be a part of this historic moment," Kings of Leon exclusively tells PEOPLE. "When we wrote and recorded 'Time in Disguise' in the studio, we always thought it had a spacy feel to it and then the visuals from our live show have that vibe, as well."

"To now have that song and those images be a part of something as historic as this is really cool, and having it raise money for a cause we've always cared so much about, makes it even better," the band adds.

The Inspiration4 crew: Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor and Christopher Sembroski. JOHN KRAUS/netflix

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as "a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership (as of a specific digital asset and specific rights relating to it)."

In recent months, the NFT space has taken off across industries, with stars including Grimes, Shawn Mendes, Tom Brady, Tony Hawk, Wayne Gretzky and Derek Jeter all getting involved with the burgeoning content.

With this particular project, Kings of Leon — who have long supported St. Jude and have created music NFTs before — will be providing an iPhone to civilian astronaut Hayley Arceneaux.

A physician assistant at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she beat cancer at the age of 10, Arceneaux is one of four people who will be on the first all-civilian mission into outer space. She will be joined by billionaire Jared Isaacman (the Shift4 Payments CEO who is sponsoring the SpaceX flight), Christopher Sembroski and Dr. Sian Proctor.

Hayley Arceneaux
Hayley Arceneaux. John Kraus/Inspiration4

On the iPhone that Arceneaux, 29, brings to space will be the King's NFT song, additional original artwork and footage of the band performing the tune at a concert in Nashville two weeks ago.

Arceneaux will then play the song in orbit for the Inspiration4 crew — a moment made possible by music NFT pioneer Yellowheart, and one that the Kings hope will change the future of music.

"As many know, this is our second music NFT. Big visible moments like this continue to make people aware of this idea," Kings of Leon tells PEOPLE. "We see a more direct relationship with fans as the key to artists of all kinds making a living in this business."

"NFTs are a huge part of that better future for music. We believe doing things like participating in this massive moment, not only generates money but generates awareness for the charity and the role NFTs can play in the future of raising money and restructuring the music industry," the band adds.

The phone will later be auctioned for an opening bid of $50,000, along with a bundle that includes a meet-and-greet with the band and the SpaceX crew and a chance to see Kings of Leon perform in Los Angeles.

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The funds raised by the auction will contribute to the more than $128 million already committed toward the Inspiration4 fundraising campaign, St. Jude tells PEOPLE.

With so much to look forward to, the Kings say it's hard to pinpoint one thing they're most excited about.

"There's so much," the band says. "Seeing blastoff, getting to meet the Inspiration4 crew when they return from orbit. We're excited to meet the auction winner. They will also get to meet the crew and tour SpaceX, as well as come to one of our festival dates — it should be a good time!"

And, the band jokingly adds, "Maybe we'll get some new fans from another planet!"

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