Why is it essential for you, as an artist, filmmaker, musician, editor, 3D animator, or marketer, to know about NFTs?
Before diving in, it's helpful to know what a Non-Fungible Token—a.k.a. NFT—is. An NFT is similar to a certificate or deed to the ownership of a digital asset. Can that digital asset be copied and distributed to the entire world? Yes, except in cases where bonuses like lifetime front row seats or other real-world experiences or assets are included when purchasing an NFT. However, the certificate, or "smart contract," cannot be copied. So you own the transferable, non-copyable contract that says you own the digital asset.
The "Non" part of the Non-Fungible Token is what defines an NFT as being unique. For example, a fungible asset is a dollar. If I lend you a dollar, and then you pay me back with a different dollar, that's not exactly the same dollar, but it is a perfect value replacement. A dollar is a dollar, regardless of its serial number. A non-fungible asset is my 1975 Fender Precision bass guitar. If I let you borrow my bass, then you returned a 1975 reissue of a Fender Precision bass guitar built in 1990, I would not be pleased.
The most common question I receive regarding NFTs is: If I can have an exact digital copy of your digital asset, why would I place value on an NFT?
Simply put, humans like to own and collect things, even if those things have value only to a particular group.
Above: Taco Bell's NFT, available for sale on Rarity
Another benefit to NFTs is that, like the art on your wall, if you have an NFT associated with your hardware wallet, and it’s not living on an exchange like Nifty Gateway, you are the owner. Besides being physically robbed (which happens), no one can take the NFT from you or freeze your account because the transaction is on the blockchain, which is decentralized. Unlike the physical art on your wall, you can transfer ownership without the hassle of shipping. Check out this article regarding the security of NFTs on one of the most popular hardware wallets for crypto, the Ledger wallet, if you’re interested in knowing more.
More importantly, you can exchange NFTs for goods, services, and currency. Therefore, they have value, and that's the key concept to understanding NFTs.
Here are three items marketers and creators should consider when looking into NFTs;
A New Medium
NFTs are, in a sense, a new medium. As a content creator of any medium, you should understand why and how this new medium has been created.
Conceptually, one should understand that with NFTs, you're not limited to a still or animated digital image. You can literally combine every known medium and sell it as a single NFT, including experiences. An interview with the NFT’s artist or even a dinner date can be included as part of the contract associated with the art. Backstage passes, a personal letter, exclusively commissioned additional pieces, a song's publishing rights, sections of films, and on and on, can all be incorporated.
NFTs are not conceptually a new medium. Companies like Async.art have created programmable art (which includes music) since 2016, though they made a big name for themselves in February 2020. They describe programmable art as: "Art that can evolve over time, react to its owners, or follow a stock price"
As a marketer, understanding the power of NFTs as a new medium is crucial to auctioning off a successful piece. Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, McDonald's (as a giveaway contest), and Gucci are just some major brands that are jumping in already. With NFTs, it’s necessary to think beyond a copy of what's already been done. If you can push the NFT space forward in fundamental ways while adopting cryptocurrency, you can have the potential to become a brand leader in NFTs.
Above: McDonald's NFTs, five of each available on Open Sea
Musically Immersive NFTs
I remember the first time I saw Kandinsky’s ‘Intersecting Lines’ and spontaneously began to compose. That piece has a ton of movement for a still painting. Writing music for NFTs brings me back to that Kandinsky moment.
Many NFTs have no sound. There's nothing particularly wrong with that; however, I'll ask the visually-minded to consider the lost opportunity. First, there's the visceral reaction. Music evokes emotion more quickly than words ever could. The person considering purchasing your cool 3D rendered piece of digital art clicks on it, and then: it gets bigger. There's no sound. Music adds a fourth dimension to your NFT.
If touching your audience emotionally is your goal, or even if you're just in it for the money, consider Neilson's study on advertising with music vs. advertising without music.
"The research indicated that commercials with some form of music performed better across four key metrics—creativity, empathy, emotive power, and information power—than those that didn’t.”
It may sound basic to many of those who are reading this, but you should seriously consider the power of music. If you don't want to pay for music, then don't! Simply augment your selling price, and offer that extra percentage to the musician or music publisher. Your collectors will enjoy your work, and its value will increase that much more.
Your NFT can provide much beyond the art on offer.
Attaching utility to products is a marketer's field of expertise. Still, I'll do my best to name the low-hanging fruit of what NFTs can include:
- Future discounts and exclusive offers
- Unique experiences
- Carbon off-set and reforestation
- Joint promotion with other artists
- Contest entries for prizes
- Producer credits, cameos, or other participation in your film
- Unlock in-game features
These are just a handful of ways to build utility into your NFT. It's a step beyond the artwork itself, but these aspects can be highly creative aspects of your vision.
Personally, after working on two NFTs, I'm looking forward to considering the utility aspect a lot more. I want to make sure there's more time to collaborate with the visual artists involved, come up with unexpected bonuses for buyers, and make something profound.
I, for one, am excited to create more music and sound for NFTs. Though there are still many bumps in the road, (such as where to store the actual digital assets, forgeries, the stealing of someone else's art and minting NFTs, or how to contractually obligate someone to deliver that digitally-promised, physical item included with an NFT) the development and adoption of this new medium is becoming cemented into our digital futures.
A new medium and way of monetizing all forms of art and experiences have become popularized. I believe NFTs are here to stay. It’s up to you to decide whether or not to embrace it.