Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are still a bit head-scratchy for some. While there’s a lot of excitement around NFTs within the media and entertainment industries, there’s also a lot of skepticism and criticism. Some critics discredit NFTs as nothing more than expensive jpegs that are bought and sold online. Even the skeptics who take a more subdued stance often describe NFTs as if they are synonymous with the NFT art or the digital art file.
But when we dive deeper and understand the unique capabilities of NFTs, it’s clear that NFTs are far more than mere jpegs. NFTs are “the golden promise of Web3” and are especially poised to disrupt the media and entertainment industries. Some of the most exciting possibilities of NFTs lie in their ability to unlock lucrative access for NFT holders—including access to benefits, access to experiences, and access to community.
Unlocking Access to Benefits
A big part of the allure of NFTs relates to the unique access to benefits that they afford their holders. More and more, we’re seeing NFTs leveraged as part of subscription models or membership clubs that provide subscribers and members with unique benefits. By leveraging a subscription model, media and entertainment companies can grant NFT holders access to benefits such as premier access to products, limited edition products, or other scarce and valuable benefits. Companies can also create access passes similar to digital tickets that grant holders access to different gated benefits. World-renowned DJ, Steve Aoki, for example, has created an NFT membership club called A0K1VERSE where NFTs holders receive exclusive access to physical and digital rewards like free concert tickets.
Media and entertainment companies will likely follow in the footsteps of companies like Starbucks
While NFTs leverage the latest digital technology, the benefits that they afford are not limited to the digital world. NFTs can also offer benefits in the form of physical items like collectibles, apparel, and more. We’ve seen NFT collaborations from the likes of Adidas and Bored Ape Yacht Club, as well as GAP and Frank Ape. Gap, for example, partnered with Frank Ape to launch a gamified NFT experience that transforms physical hoodies into digital collectibles. This type of gamified NFT experience is also primed to disrupt media and entertainment.
Granting Access to Experiences
NFTs also empower holders with access to unique, valuable, and scarce experiences. These experiences span the gamut and range from in-person to virtual experiences. Flyfish Club is a private dining club set to open in 2023 where entry is purchased as an NFT. Holders are afforded unlimited access to a private 10,000-plus square feet dining room in New York City, as well as other culinary experiences. Flyfish is one of a collection of NFT “social clubs” that are popping up amid the rise of NFTs and making a mark within the entertainment industry.
NFT-powered experiences are also emerging in the form of event-based experiences. For example, early this year, Coachella announced a set of collectible NFTs, in the form of a digital “Coachella Key.” Coachella Key holders receive lifetime passes to the festival every year forever, as well as various other experiences such as a celebrity-cooked dinner at Coachella’s Rose Garden, and front and center-stage views at the Coachella Stage.
We’re also seeing some more traditional NFTs be combined with new experiential-based ones. For example, when serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuck launched his NFT collection called Vee Friends, he gave holders access to the Vee Con experience, an annual conference, in addition to giving them access to digital art.
Unlocking Access to Community
In addition to providing access to benefits and experiences, NFTs also create and provide access to community. This has been on full display during the Ukraine crisis as the country and its supporters around the world have rallied together through NFTs. Ukraine’s government has raised money from NFTs that have been used as war bonds. Ukrainian NFT artist Artem Humilevskiy (along with many others) has developed a strong following by creating self-portraits that have become a powerful collective symbol of resistance from Ukraine and its people. And TIMEpieces, a Web3 NFT community from TIME magazine, created an exhibition called “Make art not war,” where proceeds are directed towards Ukrainian humanitarian and relief efforts.
In addition to unlocking access to community, NFTs can also be coupled with an exciting ownership component. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are communities that are collectively owned and managed by their members and allow members to invest in NFTs and NFT collections. Even apart from DAOs, NFTs can have powerful ownership components. Bud Light is one of the numerous companies that have capitalized on this ownership piece. Corey Brown, senior digital director at Bud Light, has explained that “NFTs are continuing to redefine how we think about community and ownership, technology, all of those things“. Bud Light recently announced NFTs as part of the launch of its zero-carb Bud Light Next beer. Purchase of the NFTs gives holders access to merchandise, brand and partner events, as well as certain voting rights on brand decisions like the design of merchandise.
More Than Jpegs
There are reasons to be skeptical about NFTs. There will inevitably be roadblocks ahead. And some NFTs will continue to be heady-scratching—like the nearly $400,000 low-resolution cartoon whale created by a 12-year-old. But NFTs are here to stay and are slated to continue to disrupt the media and entertainment industries. One key driver of their value and likely longevity is the lucrative access they provide —in the form of access to benefits, experiences, and community.