Technology / 02.03.22
Are NFTs the Ticket of the Future?
I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard or seen the term “NFT,” which stands for non-fungible token. If you are not tech-savvy, knowing what it stands for probably doesn’t help you much. But ticketing and live event professionals are having to get at least a little NFT-savvy because these digital tokens are making inroads into seat sales. NFTs have the potential to make tickets more functional, but they might also be able make them more memorable. It wasn’t that long ago that many people collected physical tickets of all types — tickets to ballgames, to concerts, to Broadway shows and so forth. Each ticket was unique. You could put it in a scrapbook or a frame and revive memories of past entertainments.
But even an old-school, paper-based ticket could get wet and ruined. You could lose it or accidentally toss it in the trash. And, quite frankly, organizers never were able to get enough security with paper-based tickets, as they were so often faked. With NFTs, the technology has the potential to benefit both organizers and guests.
NFTs are unique digital tokens stored on the blockchain, a type of distributed ledger that is decentralized so that there is no specific owner of the database (which is what you usually have with tickets issued via the primary ticketing provider). Ticketing info is held in the centralized database and controlled by the ticketing platform. Once created on the blockchain, NFTs can be sold to customers digitally, who can then store them in a secure wallet accessible on any mobile device.
Tom Knight, Vice President of Product Development & Strategy at Weldon, Williams & Lick Inc. (WW&L Inc.), says, “It’s a new era of how tickets interact with fans and patrons. The movement of digital during COVID-19 has really amplified the commemorative digital ticket. Our goal is to coincide with the mobile ticket and still have a commemorative piece as well, whether that’s a physical ticket or a digital NFT. Because, really, right now, the mobile ticket is just a bar code on a phone. What the NFT does is it interacts with the fans and patrons as a bridge between a physical stub and a digital representation of that ticket.”
Emmy Gengler, CEO of the software development company Softjourn, has thoughts on NFTs as well. “An NFT ticket is issued via a ticketing service that uses blockchain technology. When the ticket is purchased and issued, a ‘token’ is written to the blockchain database, which represents the digital asset, or the ticket in this case. NFTs, as related to ticketing, are also now referring to the offering of other types of digital assets or even experiences that can be issued when a ticket is purchased, issued to fans of an artist before or after they attend an event, or issued to fan clubs … or others as unique experiences.”
NFTs can potentially improve the ticketing experience for both attendees and organizers. For one, they can prevent fake tickets and scams. There’s also the speed factor. An NFT can be minted and ready to sell in less than a minute. Also, because programmable NFTs can have built-in rules for everything from content to resales to royalty splits, the organizer can analyze profit sharing percentages for future resales or creative content on secondary markets and receive funds knowing they’re unalterable within the NFT’s coding.
One industry professional who has been following the progression of NFTs closely is Derek Palmer, Chief Revenue Officer for Project Admission, a platform that works directly with the live event industry to expand ticket distribution channels. “Like any new technology, NFTs do have a future,” he says. “It’s just a question of what you are expecting out of them. There are folks who look at whatever comes out as a possible ‘silver bullet,’ but they don’t necessarily know what they are shooting at. We think there is a huge opportunity in creating a digital asset to work in partnership with that physical ticket. You can have the ticket stub displayed in a frame or up on a corkboard, but you can also have a very nice looking asset in your digital wallet that can serve as a form of memorabilia as well.”
Project Admission announced at the recent INTIX 2022 in Orlando, Florida, that it has partnered with WW&L to offer digital commemorative tickets to new and existing clients. The longtime global leader in commemorative ticketing, WW&L welcomes Project Admission’s help in seamlessly expanding their offerings into the digital realm.
Gengler does urge caution and patience with the emerging NFT market, however. “If we talk about some of the reasons that are being given as to the ticketing industry problems that are being solved by NFT tickets, such as: ‘My fans can’t buy tickets,’ ‘Patrons are trying to come in with what turns out to be fake tickets,’ ‘Artists are losing out on revenue when tickets to their shows are resold,’ or ‘We don’t really know who is at our events,’ then right now issuing NFT tickets can’t solve all of these problems fully … or without some workarounds that then defeat the purpose of issuing NFT tickets. If a ticketing platform has a fully digital ticketing solution (i.e., they never issue a representation of the ticket that could be copied; they only issue a confirmation of ticket purchase and then make the ticket itself ‘valid’ right before the event including changing its scan code frequently), then all of these issues can be solved just as well right now.”
She continues, “Of course, this technology and the processes and infrastructure around it are relatively new and continually changing. So, of course, you have to keep a watch on the technology and the industry.”
And there are indeed obstacles the technology still needs to overcome to achieve full implementation. “The main obstacle is defining what problems you’re looking to solve,” Palmer says. “There is a tremendous amount of incumbency in the ticketing space. I can easily see NFTs and the blockchain augmenting an offering for a primary ticketing company. That’s being done today. I think people who say, ‘I want to create an entirely blockchain primary ticketing company’ are going to struggle and face an uphill battle. But if we can define the scope of what we’re hoping to solve, augment or improve, then there’s certainly a space for it, as with any technology. But if you think that is the panacea or the thing that’s going to change everything in ticketing, I think they are going to be mistaken.”
Gengler adds that “stability” may become an issue. “Volatility in crypto currency is well known,” she says. Each currency is specific to a blockchain. What happens when that blockchain and currency is no longer the latest and greatest?”
Nevertheless, there does appear to be a future for NFTs in ticketing. Will there be mass adoption? “The use of a public blockchain for NFTs for collectibles and different types of digital assets will continue to grow, as an upsell or additional giveaway where a buyer can convert their regular ticket into a NFT with maybe some additional digital offering,” Gengler says. “This can be done today without too many changes to the ticketing platform. We are already seeing a lot of buzz around this, and it probably won’t take too long before most events will offer some type of NFT. How long the buzz around this will last though is not clear.”
Palmer concurs, concluding, “If you want to use NFTs to gain access to events, it’s already being done today. Is it a massive amount? No. Does it need to be? No. I think whether it’s events going forward or events that meant a lot to you in the past, people are going to want to engage and be a part of this very soon. There is tremendous opportunity as long as we make it easy on the fan, easy on the consumer.”
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Tags: Paperless , NFT