The Future Of Live? How NFTs Can Benefit Artists

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 20: A billboard by gDEX Metaverse reads, “unlock the metaverse” in Times Square during the 4th annual NFT.NYC conference on June 20, 2022 in New York City. The four-day event will feature 1,500 speakers from the crypto and NFT space and will host over 14,000 attendees. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Streaming services and lingering effects from the pandemic-induced shutdown of live music have left artists struggling to make money. Yet the time society was shut indoors and forced to communicate almost exclusively online allowed a new iteration of the web to bloom. Web3, a new iteration of the world wide web that incorporates the blockchain and crypto, started taking off, and NFTs created a new avenue for artists to make money. Sold online as exclusive tokens fans can purchase, the potential to create not just songs, but also show tickets as NFTs, may be a game-changer.

The secondary ticketing market has often evaded artists. Scalpers hike up the show price, sell tickets to fans and pocket the rest. Web3 and NFTs offer artists the ability to vet who’s buying and get a cut from the secondary ticket market. The technology has only existed for a few years. Right now, the idea is in its earlier stages, but those working with Web3 believe it will eventually run dominant.

Numerous agencies quickly adopted Web3, creating departments specializing in it. CAA has started signing NFT artists, and is paying close attention to the possibility of ticketing expanding into the space.

“There are platforms that are now presenting themselves as options for ticketing on the blockchain, which will help prevent scalping,” says CAA music and Web3 agent Phil Quist. “And gouging has been a problem in the music industry for a while. I think using NFT for ticketing and the live side of things also essentially becomes an artist CRM [Customer Relationship Management], where they can see who their most loyal fans are over time. With everything on the chain, it makes it pretty easy to delineate who is a rapid super fan versus who is a capital fan, which we think is ultimately beneficial as artists strive to understand their true fans more and how to super-serve them.” 

CAA Executive Adam Friedman adds, “Blockchain technology is really sort of adapted from a ticketing perspective. If someone has a ticket to a show, the NFT itself is proof that they were there. You could date any experience, and that experience could be the ability to even purchase a ticket to another show down the line.” 

Last year, deadmau5 dipped a toe into NFT ticketing by becoming one of the first artists to sell a show ticket via blockchain technology during his October 2021 shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The electronic musician was one of the first to adopt NFTs early last year, his show presenting a new opportunity for them. Speaking about the matter when deadmau5 appeared on the Jan. 5 cover of Pollstar, the artist’s manager, Dean Wilson, pointed out that artists are the only ones who don’t get a cut of traditional secondary ticketing. 

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MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 30: Deadmau5 is seen performing onstage during the 2021 Day Of The Deadmau5 at Island Gardens on October 30, 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

French-based tech company Billy is proving to be a leader when it comes to ticketing NFTs. Founded by Robin Champseix earlier this year, the company’s vision promises a brighter future involving Web3 technology.

“Our strong conviction at Billy is that because of COVID, artists, organizers and the live event industry must reinvent ourselves,” Champseix says. “That’s why we are a strong pillar around engagements, giving exclusive content and digital experiences that you can have access to. For example, you can access a clip you can listen before everyone else, or a new album, or access some videos after an event. We want to see ticketing as a partner, not only as a base fee. We really want to make a creative ticketing solution to benefit the artist and organizer.”

NFTs also bring excitement to ticketing. In the past, physical show stubs became memorabilia, allowing fans to have a token of the night. Through the utilization of blockchain technology, “If you have virtual tickets, it’s worth something,” Billy’s Head of Sales, Charles Baldet, says. “You can keep connected with your community. If you had physical tickets, it wouldn’t mean anything; or a QR code, it’s a bit boring.” 

Medallion is also pushing boundaries in digital spaces. The company aims to strengthen the connection between artists and fans, allowing those who are most supportive to have more personalized experiences. Within that includes digital events and specialized NFT tokens providing exclusive content. 

“Medallion is a technology that essentially helps artists build owned and operated digital worlds; digital communities that drive participation, drive insight, and drive economic opportunity for artists,” Medallions’s Chief Strategy Officer. Stephen Vallimarescu, tells Pollstar. “Our goal is to allow artists to bring their global fanbases that exist across intermediary social platforms into an environment where they control the terms of content commerce and communication.” 

While the technology is still developing, it provides promise to continue opening doors. As more artists continue adopting NFTs to sell songs, albums (such as Kings of Leon did last year), tickets and more, the opportunity to take advantage of money made from streaming or ticketing help support those affected by the pandemic shutdowns.