NFTs. Cryptocurrency. What is the metaverse? Assets in the ‘digital world’ suddenly have real-world value. Here’s what it could mean for artists.
Blockchain technology has enabled a new era of ownership that’s exploded in 2021. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a brand new way to market to fans, tied with direct ownership of a collectible asset. It’s like digital baseball cards with a library card that proves ownership forever. In this case, the ‘library card of ownership’ is the blockchain, which keeps track of all owners of an NFT from the moment it was minted — or created by the original owner.
Unlike certificates of authenticity, which are easy to forge, it’s impossible to forge ownership of NFT assets. NFTs can have real-world benefits attached to them. For example, one of the limited-edition Kings of Leon NFTs comes with a golden ticket. That golden ticket guarantees the NFT owner front-row seats and VIP treatment at future Kings of Leon concerts.
Here’s how the second-hand NFT market works. The original owner can opt to transfer his rights the ‘golden ticket’ grants to another person by selling the NFT. These ‘golden ticket‘ NFTs sold for around $160,000. But it could fetch far more on the secondary market if the original owner decides to sell it to another fan.
What is the metaverse?
The metaverse is the term used to refer to these digital transactions. But it will explode as more traditional game vendors start exploring options with blockchain technology. Atari (yes, that one) is one such company, hoping to spur its comeback with new technology.
In collaboration with Bondly, Atari is planning to release a collection of dedicated NFTs. The release will cover “gaming, music, and more areas,” the press release says. Bondly’s NFT gaming brands include PolkaPets and BCCG, which achieved $4 million in revenue in the first three months.
“The objective will be then to roll out the Atari Metaverse gaming platform which will combine the best aspects of the legacy gaming properties and the most current entertainment creators in music and gaming, using Digital Collectibles and NFTs as a core component of the entire Metaverse experience,” according to Atari.
To translate that corporate-speak, Atari wants to create a Fortnite competitor and a platform for artists to engage fans. “Music artists, sports stars, and all creators can engage fans in new, unique ways. Creators can mint their own NFTs in-metaverse and distribute to fans, which then become access passes to new superfan experiences.”
That keyword there – superfan experiences – is the marketing potential for NFTs. It’s still a nascent technology, as evidenced by the troubles Kings of Leon fans ran into when auctioning their NFTs. Atari has launched their own cryptocurrency, Atari Token, to kickstart its metaverse experience. Think of it like Fortnite’s V-Bucks, but with real-world value beyond lining Epic Games’ pockets.
What are new experiences?
The earliest appearance of the word ‘metaverse’ is in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 book, Snow Crash. It defines a metaverse as a virtual simulation where people can interact together. The internet in itself is real-life’s metaverse. But smaller experiences are cropping up to bring the social experiences back to the metaverse.
Ever wondered what track your favorite DJ is mixing on his digital set before he goes live? EarBuds is an app that’s designed to answer that question. Jason Fox, CEO and former NFL player, says it brings the social back to music streaming.
“Listening to and discovering new music has always been a social activity, but with streaming, it has become more of a personal experience often driven by an algorithm. With EarBuds, we are making music a social experience again,” Fox told Forbes.
With the app, anyone can connect their paid Apple Music or Spotify account and broadcast to other users their music in real-time. If you’re old (like me) and from the Internet before 2010, you might recall Last.fm and scrobbling. EarBuds is a modern take on that old platform – designed to fit into the metaverse economy.
All of these new opportunities present artists and musicians with new revenue opportunities.
Some may eventually drive the future of the music industry in entirely new directions. At the same time, others may fade into obscurity as a ‘fad’ of 2021. What’s undeniable is that the metaverse is here – and it’s evolving as quickly as we understand it.