In an oversaturated media market, one dominated by streaming services and major blockbusters being released straight to viewer’s living rooms, the competition for customer attention is fierce. The live theatre industry is going to have to enter the digital space in order to compete with the film and television industries, especially in a post-COVID world.
There is an emerging technology that may prove to be a somewhat unlikely answer to the marketing problem facing the theatre industry.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are digital assets that are growing in popularity. Industries like fine art, sports and gaming have already adopted these digital collectibles as a form of additional revenue. When it comes to the theatre industry, companies like Third Act are bridging the gap between theatre and emerging tech by providing productions with the service of creating and promoting NFTs related to their show or IP, supporting creators with an alternative revenue stream.
But while NFTs can certainly aid in supplying productions with additional revenue to help recoup investments, they can also be a healthy part of a show’s marketing diet.
The fashion and theatre industries are somewhat comparable when it comes to the emerging NFT market. Customers in both markets aren’t necessarily invested in technologies like cryptocurrency and blockchain. Yet, the fashion industry’s use of NFTs can reveal ways in which the theatre industry can utilize this emerging industry, specifically when it comes to marketing.
Natalie Johnson, the CEO of Australian-based startup called Neuno, which works with fashion houses to launch NFTs, spoke to Vogue in April 2021 regarding how NFTs would interact with the fashion industry.
Johnson told Vogue Business, “We are working with a social media platform that specializes in filters so the owner will be able to post a photo of themselves ‘wearing’ the [digital] dress… The buyer only needs to buy the NFT once and they’ll be able to use it in multiple different ways.”
Having theatre fans purchase and then share a show’s NFTs would not only provide the show with additional revenue from the purchase of said NFT, but would also provide free marketing for the show. High net-worth individuals tweeting and instagramming the NFT they purchased is a great way to advertise a show that may not otherwise breach the digital universe. Think about it almost like digital street-teaming. You create an NFT, put it on a marketplace like Third Act, and once it’s purchased the customer shares it with friends and family, creating free marketing and additional value outside of the initial purchase.
Adopting NFTs could also open your show up to a previously untapped audience. NFTs have a following of their own. “Crypto bros” and “tech nerds” have a passion for NFTs of all varieties, regardless of the industry. Creating NFTs for your show could result in your show being exposed to an entirely fresh audience of non-theatre goers. While everyone zigs by marketing strictly to theatre fans, those who adopt the use of NFTs are zagging by introducing non-theatre fans to their production.
Another way NFTs could benefit a show’s marketing is by creating demand. Every business would love to generate demand for their product out of thin air. And while NFTs aren’t a magic bullet, they’re certainly close.
The very nature of NFTs is non-fungibility. This means you’re creating a limited supply of products that cannot be found anywhere else. So when opening a show, using the inherent limited availability of NFTs is a great way to drum up excitement and demand for a production. Turning tickets into NFTs is a great way to market your show and draw interest. And while tickets for live shows are, by their very nature, limited, as live-streaming becomes more popular within the theatre industry, and shows branch out into video-on-demand, creating limited tickets for an unlimited product like a VOD gives producers one more way to offer value to their audience.
The theatre industry has always been looking for new and innovative ways to put people in seats. In a post-COVID world, where audience members may be hesitant to leave their homes, and are being offered entertainment right in the comfort of their living room, the theatre industry is going to have to find ways to market to their fanbases and discover new innovative strategies for drumming up interest in productions. Luckily, with the rise of NFTs, it seems the industry has a new, powerful tool in its corner.