The Rundown: Why CES panelists believe the blockchain will benefit the creator economy

It only makes sense that the Consumer Electronics Show would add in a few sessions about the blockchain after the year this emerging technology had in 2021. A large surge of people bought their first NFTs or invested in cryptocurrencies, while brands, publications, celebrities and sports organizations started thinking about how these assets could fit into their business models and goals. 

But many questions still remain in the early days of the blockchain, such as how to get more mass adoption from consumers, whose audiences are most likely to engage with blockchain products and what else can be done with NFTs and smart contracts. Those are some of the inquiries that the sessions “NFT, WTF” and “Creator Economy in the Context of Crypto” sought to answer during the first day of programming at CES. 

A big theme that came out of these conversations was that in 2022 there will be a significant focus on transforming fan bases into active consumers and participants of the blockchain, who are not solely investing their money and time for the monetary payout, but for the utility of being closer to the artists and celebrities that they love. And as that happens, a mutually beneficial relationship between the two parties. 

The key details: 

Utility vs. value 

While Blockchain Creative Labs is a revenue-focused business, Greenberg said that the primary focus for his team is less on monetary value and more on rewarding fans with utility. By giving avid viewers bonus content or access to private discussion boards with other fans or the talent themselves, the utility of the NFT becomes more than a digital asset you look at. 

“It’s really important that a project that’s released in the NFT space has intrinsic artistic value, intrinsic community value — both, if you’re lucky — and we’re still trying to identify what those markers of value [for] driving value in this space,” Lesley Silverman, head of digital assets at United Talent Agency, told Digiday after her session “NFT, WTF” wrapped on Wednesday. 

‘Support the ecosystem before you take from the ecosystem’ 

When brands and celebrities decide to take part in the blockchain, Silverman said their first instinct cannot be “about coming in and grabbing a quick bag of cash.” Rather, she said there needs to be organic and authentic approaches to demonstrating that they belong in this community of crypto-native consumers. 

“We’ve seen brands come in and take tremendous chunks of liquidity out of the environment, without ever having done anything to put into the environment. The gold standard will evolve rapidly and is going to be, ‘Support the ecosystem first before you take from the ecosystem,’” Silverman told Digiday. 

L’Oréal was one of Silverman’s recent clients that she said executed this golden standard well when it launched its first NFT collection. The artists the company collaborated with were able to keep 100% of the profits of the first sale, and then subsequent sales made in the secondary markets were donated in part to charity, ensuring that the beauty company only earned revenue after that point. 

L’Oréal “demonstrated that they’re here to support the community of artists,” said Silverman. “And what the brand gains from that is relevance in a space [that’s] highly competitive.”

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