by: Blake Robbins
Video essays are my favorite medium for storytelling and I'm incredibly excited to start my own channel. This channel will primarily be a place for me to document my learnings from hanging out on the edges of the internet. Incredibly thankful to have the talented Aleks Meiusi helping me with editing and motion graphics.
I also included the blog post below, if you prefer written content.
Fans are an essential part of every business, but they rarely see any economic (or social) upside for their contributions.
That is starting to change.
Everyone is a fan of something. You might be a fan of a musician, product, creator, or a sports team.
The definition of a fan has evolved dramatically over the past few decades.
For context, the Oxford dictionary defines a 'fan’ as:
a person who admires somebody/something or enjoys watching or listening to somebody/something very much
Before the invention of the Internet, fandom was primarily expressed through physical goods and in-person events. For example, an avid fan of The Beatles likely bought merchandise, went to concerts, and joined physical mailing lists.
The Internet transformed what it meant to be a fan. Social media broke down the walled gardens and enabled us to feel closer to our favorite celebrities. Our favorite celebrities started to invite us into their lives.
Over the past year, fandom has started to evolve again. Web3, or the decentralized Internet, has fundamentally changed what it means to be a fan of something or someone.
Let me take a step back and give a bit more context...I have spent the past few years studying and participating in Web3 communities. This post is an attempt to summarize why and how Web3 can fundamentally change what it means to be a 'fan.'
For the sake of simplicity, I will primarily focus on NFTs in this post, but this thesis applies to several other crypto-native primitives.
To start, it is important to break down what an NFT is.
At the highest level, NFTs "make the internet ownable" — they are a digitally native property rights system.
Today, most people associate NFTs with digital art; however, we will see NFTs proliferate into all forms of content. NFTs will soon be digital art, videos, text, songs, etc. The utility and purpose of owning an NFT are largely derived from the artists, collectors, and fans.
For some artists or projects, an NFT might grant access to a gated community. For others, the NFT might simply be a collectible that signals you were early.
To help illustrate this further, let’s assume there is an up and coming artist named: Kanye East.
Kanye East doesn’t want to sign with a record label.
Instead he explores ways to stay independent. After talking with countless artists and advisors, he decides that he is going to sell NFTs for each song on his mixtape.
Kanye East has total freedom to decide what utility these NFTs can provide. For example, fans might be able to redeem a VIP experience at any Kanye East concert. Alternatively, Kanye East might share a percentage of streaming royalties to NFT holders.
The utility is less important than the fact that this is a clear direct-to-fan monetization strategy.
A critical note is that most NFTs are able to capture a royalty of secondary sales in perpetuity. This encourages the minter of NFTs (Kanye East) to continue to drive value to their NFTs.
True fans and early supporters of Kanye East can help him chase his dream of becoming a musician while also owning a critical relic from his journey.
In the upside scenario where Kanye East becomes one of the biggest musicians of all-time, you are able to prove via the blockchain that you were one of his earliest supporters. You also own a piece of history.
In the same way that people collect rare memorabilia from concerts, Kanye East fans will covet these NFTs.
We can only assume that this can be incredibly lucrative for early fans and supporters.
Kanye East is now able to directly align with his fans and early supporters.
This will radically change the relationship between fans and their favorite brands, creators, and musicians.
As I mentioned before, the internet brought fans closer to their favorite brands, creators, and celebrities.
Web3 takes that one step further by enabling fans and their favorite brands, creators, and celebrities to be a part of the same team.
Fans will now have real skin in the game, which will incentivize them to be vocal supporters and active contributors. Everyone's incentives are closely aligned so it's win-win for both parties.
Fans become core contributors.
In Web2, fans were passively supporting somebody or something. Most of the value accrued to major third party platforms.
In Web3, fans have the opportunity to realize economic and social upside for contributing to the success of somebody or something. Fans are fully aligned socially and economically.
We are finally getting to a point where people might be able to make sustainable lives as full-time fans.
To take this one step further...
There is a very clear path for fans to become curators and tastemakers. Ultimately, the best fans and curators will become celebrities themselves.