Steve Jenner’s new venture, Metafests, builds on years of international experience supplying event technology and cashless payment services, and is preparing to announce signing the company’s first UK Festival. He shares insights on why festivals are ideally positioned to thrive as a transformative new era of business, entertainment and life dawns, propelled by the seismic shift to Blockchain technology…
Hindsight leaves no question that live entertainment, as a business and consumer experience, has been heavily reformatted each time the connected world has taken a new stride forward.
Anyone that was around back in 1999 will recall how the internet’s domestic arrival (‘Web 1’) swiftly disrupted a business model unchanged in over four decades, by allowing event organisers to talk to their audiences for the first time and sell them tickets through their computer screens. Social media then empowered fans to talk back (‘Web 2.0’), and it’s no coincidence that the festival boom of the 2000’s erupted as they were now able to demand events vibrant and comfortable enough to attract mainstream visitors across multiple generations.
Placing a connected device in the hands of the masses set the stage for the next technological leap, now in progress – the shift to blockchain technology (Web3), with NFTs staking centre-stage for revenue generation.
This transition is on course to profoundly transform the live events industry, due to its capacity to eradicate a number of its biggest challenges, from seasonal cash flow and low margins to secondary ticketing. Yet, the industry’s current understanding of how, why and what to do about it remains clouded by an information overload with over-complicated terminology, unfocused talk of ‘infinite possibilities’ and erroneous associations with crypto. It’s news to many promoters I speak with that there’s more to NFT’s than pictures of cartoon primates.
To grasp the opportunities, we need to cut through the noise and isolate the specific relevance for live events.
Let’s start by clarifying that an NFT is, in this context, a digital asset to represent ownership of an item, from intellectual property such as artwork to physical memorabilia and can be used to control access rights. It is 100% secure, because it lives on a public ledger, called the blockchain, distributed across multiple computers around the world to prevent hacking, an NFT can never be copied or modified by anyone once it has been created.
What’s more, its creator can govern the rules around its future resale forever, including who gets a cut and any restrictions on transaction value. At once, the ticket resale market switches from an industry parasite to a $16 Billion windfall for the event organisers actually taking the risk. And that’s just a secondary benefit, no pun…
“Every primary ticket will be an NFT by 2024”, predicts Josh Katz, founder of Web 3 service provider Yellow Heart, and this is not just down to resale control. Other NFT superpowers for event owners include the ability to attach items and utilities to a ticket, ranging from collectible artwork and digital content that can be added before, during and after an event, to ‘utilities’ that can be used onsite (like VIP perks), in the wider-world (high street redeemable) and even in the Metaverse, such as digital merch and access to live-streamed content and other events (real or virtual).
This means an NFT ticket retains – or potentially increases – in value long after the event has passed and can even be re-sold again and again, with the event owner receiving a commission every time, for the rest of time. The smartphone becomes the fan’s living interface with the event – their ticket, NFT collection, utilities, media library and cashless wallet.
The good news for event owners is that all you need to thrive in this new world is an engaged audience, some tickets and access to IP like artwork and photos, ie. nothing they don’t already have.
This was demonstrated masterfully in February by early movers Coachella, raking in $1.5 Million simply by dipping their toes in the water and selling a few tickets and photos attached to NFT’s – a basic approach that paid dividends.
It gets even more interesting and lucrative when you start to apply creativity – collaborating with artists and brand partners as well as using NFTs to gamify the live event. For example, this year’s Tomorrowland Winter offered attendees the opportunity to win 1,500 NFTs by completing a treasure-hunt experience on-site, whilst elrowtown Madrid recently became the world’s first festival to incorporate an NFT wallet into its official mobile app, distributing 50,000 NFTs to attendees and building the most NFT-engaged festival audience in the world in one super-smart move.
Don’t be fooled into seeing Web 3 as a distant dream; it is an opportunity right now for events all over the planet to capitalise on significant new revenue streams, as many already are, heralding a future where event producers are finally liberated from the traditional cashflow binds and headaches of seasonal ticketing income.
Festival organisers in need of more information about Web 3 and NFTs, and the opportunities they offer right now, can contact Steve on firstname.lastname@example.org.