Dear Web3 Academy DOers, NFT NYC is the Superbowl of NFTs. This is what I learned.
NFT NYC took place from June 20-23 in New York. A record setting 15,000 people attended the conference with 1500 speakers, 7 stages across multiple venues and hundreds of projects shilling throughout the halls.
You never would have known we’re in a bear market. Not to mention thousands of Apes, Doodles, Moonbirds, Cryptopunks, Clones, etc. that travelled to NYC to attend the 300+ non-conference events. Sleep was optional and the hype was next level.
Top 8 Takeaways from NFT NYC
- We’re soooo sooo sooo early
- Tokengated this, that & the other
- NFTs are so much more than jpegs
- PFP projects are social clubs
- NFT brands are going mainstream
- Bear market? Who cares?
- Web3 knows a lot about friendship
- Half conference, half music festival
Let’s go through them all.
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We Are Sooo Sooo Sooo Early
I bought my first NFT (a llama for 0.02e) in February this year. Just 5 months ago. And I felt like I was late to the party.
Soon after I aped into a couple of projects cause you know FOMO. I learned the hard way that making money on NFTs is harder than it looks. While this was my first lesson in NFTs, the lessons I’ve learned since then are so much more valuable. Prices go up, down and sideways. But technology is inevitable.
Programmable blockchains and smart contracts are going to disrupt every industry. But we’re just in the first inning. Scratch that we’re still in practice before the game. Five years from now everyone will be using NFTs whether they realise it or not.
But right now no one has figured this out. Most panels were called “The Future of…” with experts and top leaders using lots of if and when statements. So the lesson is to participate. Play and build. It’s the only way to figure it out. Don’t wait for the playbook. There is none yet. Get into the game.
There’s 100 million crypto wallets today and around 1% of those own NFTs. Estimates are that by 2031 there will be 1 billion wallets. Just by being in web3 right now you’re setting yourself up to be an expert in 10 years when the rest of the world joins in the fun.
In order to be part of this massive opportunity to build a decentralized, permissionless, immutable world we all must learn the tech. We must take the time to learn the foundations of web3. Spend less time focused on speculation. Thanks to the bear market for helping with that.
Tokengated This, That & The Other
Tokengated or Token-Gated (web3 invents new words weekly) is fast becoming one of the hottest trends in NFTs and for good reason. It cannot be understated enough how much we as humans care about access. It makes us feel special. Ownership is the most discussed aspect of web3 and rightfully so but I would argue that many people (especially those without wallets) value access as much if not more than ownership.
In order for me to access Moonbirds and Zen Academy (proud hodlr) I used Tokenproof to obtain token verified tickets for events. Moonbirds had multiple events, some led by the project team and others led by holders with funding from the project (point for community building in web3). There was a hot wing eating contest for the Fireheads and a David Blaine performance for the Wizard Hats. Moonbirds was tokengating based on rarities! NFT NYC shockingly did not use NFTs or tokengating. Just boring old conference badges. So lame.
During NFT NYC Shopify launched their new product offering tokengated commerce. It’s just in beta so the activation of this was elementary in NYC but the future is very bright here. This enables NFT holders to connect their wallet and access member-only merch. This has huge potential to recognize and reward loyalty. Imagine getting early access to a merch drop or exclusive access to limited edition merch just for NFT holders. Shopify’s tokengated commerce is currently in beta with some of the largest NFT projects including Doodles, WOW, Invisible Friends and Cool Cats.
My advice to business owners and creators: Get an NFT into the hands of 100-1000 of your fans now.
Give it away for free. Perhaps even make it valueless in order to remove speculation. Once in their hands is where the fun begins. Use tokengating to offer them access to:
- Physical or digital event
- Merch even just a sticker, a t-shirt or hat
- Private discord channel
- Area of your website with discounts from partners and affiliates
- Unlockable content – song, pdf guide, podcast, etc.
- A calendly to book a call 1-on-1 or join a group call
Remember that you will offer many NFTs to your fans over the next decade. Don’t get stuck on perfect for your first one. You just need to play in the web3 sandbox.
Need help launching an NFT for your fans? Or tokengating your community? You don’t need Shopify. Reply to this email if you need help and Web3 Academy DAO leaders will guide you. 👊
NFTs Are So Much More Than Jpegs
To most people, NFTs are just jpegs of ‘insert animal’. You wouldn’t think this after walking through the hundreds of booths repping projects in sports, fashion, music, real estate and so much more.
There’s a belief in the transformative power of NFTs to empower creators, connect them to their collectors, foster communities, rethink existing power structures, change how cultural creation and ownership work, and bring people with shared goals together while giving them the tools to achieve those goals.
It’s important to remember that NFTs are not a business. They are a tool for your business. A music panel with French Montana and other top level execs reminded me of this. With smart contracts an artist can deliver a lot more than an mp3, like:
- Create new copyright licences enabling the use of their music in a film
- Offer unique access to their most loyal fans
- Share royalties with those who purchased their first album when they had no fans
- Reward people who attend multiple shows for their loyalty
All the while providing long term value which builds stronger communities.
At the end of this panel one artist predicted that within the next 5 years a community would write a grammy winning song. How? Through NFTs which give access to fans to collaborate and be part of the song writing process.
Think this is crazy? I’ll bet 1ETH to anyone who replies to this email. 🤝
PFP Projects Are Social Clubs
Humans are social creatures. One of our greatest needs is belonging. As we move towards spending more time online we are starving to find our tribe. While many web2 platforms (reddit and facebook groups) have enabled us to build online communities, they’ve been lacking in many ways. Ownership and recognition for contribution being at the forefront.
But also the ability to recognize fellow members across other online platforms and the ability to recognize fellow members IRL. NFTs changes that.
We’ve seen this with the explosion of NFTs being used as avatars in Twitter, Discord, Instagram, Reddit, etc. Now, because you belong to a particular NFT community you are able to DM pretty much anyone within that community and get a response. You can make connections and network with people that you would never have had a connection to before.
NFT NYC showed how much this expands beyond avatars and into real life. On the first day I met a fellow lil noun owner because he had a noun sticker on his badge. We connected instantly. He gave me a lil noun sticker which I put on my badge leading multiple people to approach me.
I printed my moonbird on a t-shirt which I wore around the second day and I can’t tell you how many fellow moonbirds I met. Think about how proudly American college graduates wear their merch. The same is happening with NFTs. The transition of NFT communities into real life is just beginning. There’s massive opportunities here for community members and experiential/events companies to get involved.
NFT Brands Are Going Mainstream
It’s time to talk about all the events outside of the actual conference. Honestly, this was where all the cool shit was.
My first stop was the Cool Cats experience and wow was I impressed. They took a 30,000sq ft warehouse in central Manhattan and turned it into an immersive family friendly carnival-like experience.
We spent 3 hours there and it was pure joy the entire time. We collected points using RFID bracelets which you could trade in for merch. While there was exclusive merch for NFT holders what really stood out to me about this experience was that it was clearly targeting the general public and the response was impressive. The non-holder line was over 30 mins long pretty much the whole week.
Illuminati (Truth Labs) had one of the most unique and notable events of the week. Imagine a Cirque du Soleil like experience with multiple creative performances. And of course lots of goblins trudging around making goblin noises. But definitely what stood out most about this event was the PERMANENT tattoo station. Yes, people we’re getting permanent tattoos of Illuminati art. Probably the best marketing you could ever get for your brand!
Nouns DAO which is one of the leading projects in terms of decentralisation had dozens of activations and events happening throughout the week. All created by community members who got funding from the DAO. The only one I attended was put on by Gnars DAO on June 21, which happens to be Go Skateboarding Day. They took over a skatepark in Manhattan with a couple pro skaters, videographers and loads of non-NFT people getting in on the fun.
It’s clear that NFT projects have the potential to become leading global brands. In order to do so they will need to tap into an audience beyond just owners of their 10k NFT collections. While it remains to be seen how big of an impact they can make beyond web3-native consumers, there were some big steps taken in NYC.
Bear Market? Who Cares?
A big question surrounding NFT NYC this year was the sentiment around the conference considering ETH has been down 70%+ from the highs in late 2021.
Mainstream media headlines said that NFTs were over. If anything, the bear market made it better as the speculators were washed out. This was a week focused on community-building, networking and growing relationships. It comforted me to know how many smart, capable and powerful figures are backing the tech.
While many wondered how many people would show up in NYC? There was a clear response from the tens of thousands of builders and DOers.
Web3 Knows A Lot About Friendship
I haven’t been to any crypto conferences but I’d say it’s pretty clear that NFTs are onboarding a new audience of users including those that stayed away from crypto.
There were artists, collectors, crypto natives, corp execs, gamers, beginners, entrepreneurs and everything in between. Everyone and I mean everyone was friendly AF. Literally the most approachable and accessible people I’ve ever met.
No doubt that part of this is due to the amount of blue ocean in web3 right now as we are so early. But it’s also part of the culture of web3 which aims to remove the hierarchical structures built by the web2 corp giants and tear down the walled gardens that control our data and sell it for profit.
The culture of web3 was apparent in every interaction. This cannot be understated as in order to build a decentralised, permissionless and trustless future we must work together. The term building with strangers is one that I heard many times while in NYC.
The foundational trust that exists in web3 is special and we must continue to foster that. Usually at these events there’s the experts and influencers behind a VIP rope. Not here. In web3 we’re all equal.
Shout out to all the people I met at NFT NYC.
But more importantly shout out to all the DOers navigating discord, welcoming new members and sharing this space so approachable. While it may seem cheesy I’ve always believed that friendship has the power to change the world. I wasn’t sure how the online communities of web3 would translate to IRL. There is a desire to help, support and build together in a way I have never experienced before in my 20 year career.
Half Conference, Half Music Festival
I thought I was going to a conference. Turns out what went down in NYC was much more fun! While we all know NFTs are building communities online (most in discord) of which I am part of an overwhelming amount. I didn’t know the extent to which NFTs are building communities in person. And doing it with the biggest celebrities and artists in the world. Jimmy Fallon was spotted at ApeFest and not behind some VIP area. Just out in the open. Here’s a list of just a few of the artists that performed during the week:
- World of Women: Madonna
- Doodles: Chainsmokers and a pre-recorded Pharrell cameo
- Moonbirds: David Blaine and Tame Impala
- Bored Ape Yacht Club: Snoop Dogg, Eminem, The Roots, Questlove, LCD Soundsystem, HAIM, Lil Baby, Future, Timbaland (probably missing a few)
- Azuki: Zhu and Lupe Fiasco
- Adam Bomb Squad: Pusha T
- Other sightings/performances: Sia (otherwise known as Bianca Medici for her NFT activities), Miguel, Diplo, Chromeo, Deadmau5, and many more.
Now it should be mentioned that all of these performances were outside of the conference. There’s a legitimate question as to what is the real NFT NYC.
The conference in Times Square? Or all the events hosted by companies or NFT projects? Both have their place in my mind. As I’m not sure one can exist without the other. And the conference serves an important purpose to educate and onboard new people to web3.
But it’s clear that the real fun and networking happened outside of the conference. One thing is for sure, I’ll be back next year!
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