The Content Creator’s NFT Playbook (v 1.1, Pop Warner Edition)
Since starting Brovember Rain earlier this year, our little web3 team has become very busy developing NFT projects for influencers, content creators and media entities. A lot of our clients are new to the space (because everyone is), and we hear a lot of the same questions in every RFP or exploration call. So I thought it would be a good idea to write a brief post about the benefits of creating your first NFT or NFT set as a content creator or IP owner. More specifically, I thought it would be a good idea to write a brief post to answer “should I get on this wave or skip it?”
Disclaimer: of course I hope you’ll get on this wave if the timing is right and there is a good fit and use case. And I hope you’ll hire us to help. But if it’s wrong for you, it’s wrong for you.
More often than not, the first question I hear when exploring a potential project is: what is an NFT? Is it a meme? An MLM? A JPG? A way for finance bros to dodge taxes or clean money? An evolving piece of art? A lawless medium that has gotten ahead of oversight? An upgradeable gaming skin? Well, it can be any or all of these things and more, but here is the real deal. An NFT is a secure token. It is an agreement. It is the future of authentication, and therefore the future of assembling and organizing communities.
I’ve been writing for years about using blockchain technology, which saw its first proof of viability in finance, to create better, more equitable and decent social media experiences. And I use social media here in a futuristic sense. We ain’t talking Facebook and Snapchat scraping and selling your digital identity, buddy. We’re talking about using blockchain technology in a way that improves fan experience and utility and provides long term, sustainable value for creators. To quote myself, quoting IBM:
“Interacting with the world around us using identity instruments is part of our daily lives, but today’s digital representations of our identity are far from secure. However, the world of self-sovereign identity now presents us with the ability to have a simpler, safer and more intuitive digital existence.”
Blockchain technology will, in time, make your fans safer and more identifiable, will connect you directly to them and (thanks to public ledger) make it easier to protect your IP.
The second question, ALWAYS, is: what can I do with an initial NFT or NFT set? Below is my current answer to that question. Of course, this is by no means an all-encompassing answer, and it is, by nature, always evolving and becoming more interoperable, but hell, it’s a free read, so LFG.
Let me in.
One of the key requests we get on nearly every project is the creation of some sort of token-authenticated (tokengated) social network. Right now we’re doing this primarily with private Discord channels, because that’s where the community is and there are some decent tools to handle the nuts and bolts. And of course, blockchain gaming is fundamentally based around this function. But in the grander scheme, we want to be able to authenticate a fan anywhere your community meets online. We want this same functionality to apply with equal viability to a subscription service or to an owned-and-operated fansite for a creator or media company.
No, really let me in.
Token-authentication for networks is a great start, but let’s follow that thread to its logical conclusion: tokengating for everything. Again, NFTs, within the context of entertainment, are simply the future of agreements. So you, as a content creator, can say to your fans: “Tell me a fair rate for membership to my club, and what benefits you would like as a member. Then I will create a smart contract (that we can all see) and give or sell you a really cool digital item that can instantly and securely authenticate your identity anywhere you go in the metaverse or in meatspace. That way, you can get all of the benefits to which you are entitled as a member-in-good-STANing of my club :).
We’re talking token auth for events, meet and greets, loyalty programs, live streams, merch drops, premieres, etc. If you want an easier way to think of it, the first NFT you give or sell to your fans is like a really secure and (non-fungible…eh…see?) spot on your guestlist. And once they are on that list, you can airdrop them, transfer them, sell them or admit them to any manner of things.
I want equity.
Something we have to tackle on every web3 project is ownership and equity. We all want to give fans additional affinity incentives, but we all want to protect our IP at the same time. In NFT world, ownership and equity comes into play on various levels, and is as broad as you might imagine. On a very basic level, an NFT is simply proof of ownership and authenticity. So, for example, if I own a digital collectible (or a fraction of a digital collectible) or a digital collectible that is the twin of a physical collectible (a meta-Birkin that looks like the IRL one I keep in a temperature-controlled vault), my token tells the world it is irrefutably and inimitably mine.
This level of ownership is enough for collectibles or for existing IP. But there is another world of fan-equity that comes into play for new, community-driven IP. In the case of purely financial (or art) NFTs, this world includes some pretty complex tokenomics. But more often than not, our clients are creating original worlds, characters and stories that are sold to fans on a piece by piece basis. And in this case, it is typical for the creator to own the brand, but to allow fans to own (and be able to monetize) their particular token.
So for example, if I am the creator of the Smurfs, and I create a PFP set of 10,000 new Smurfs, and sell them to fans, I can decide that I own the Smurfs brand, but I want to allow each fan to create merchandise featuring their own individual Smurf. They could sign their individual Smurf to a fake band. They could name their Smurf and give it an identity and make it a celebrity. If their Smurf is used in the new Smurfs movie, I could offer them an EP credit (as they DID help fund the film), even residuals if I want. Or, of course, I could do none of these things, and my fans just own 1/1 Smurf art that they will cherish.
In this way, your brand’s first NFT can also be viewed as a new sort of crowdfunding or co-op funding. This is a whole other post, but y’all get it.
I have ideas.
And now for the part that will scare a lot of you. In the same way that your first NFT is a vehicle for crowdfunding, it is also a vehicle for crowdsourcing creative. If you have a passionate fandom, or if you are starting from scratch and building a new creative property, you probably hear a lot of ideas and opinions about your work. Well, now that you have a way to perfectly authenticate and organize your most passionate and (emotionally/financially) invested fans/stakeholders, you can also quantify, distill, and even solicit those ideas and opinions. Now, this could be as narrow as hosting a a highly invested focus group or table read on your Twitch or Discord. But it could also be as broad as having fans help to decide character direction, song lyrics, story points… You could go as far as creating virtual writers rooms and sourcing fanfic, community lore and fan art in the development of a property that is owned by everyone who invested.
And I’m not being hyperbolic here. I predict that within a couple years, an army of fans with emotional, creative and financial skin in the game will crowdfund and crowdsource an original feature film based on an NFT project. And once that film is released, that army of fans will become the most rabid, enthusiastic P2P marketers the world has ever seen. They will AMC the sh*t out of that film. And somewhere above us, our patron saint, Andy Warhol will smile down upon us and nod his blessing.