On April 15th, 2021, it was announced that an NFT (non-fungible token) featuring Los Angeles Lakers star, Lebron James, had sold for $387,600. This set a record for the highest sale on NBA Topshot, a digital marketplace where fans of the NBA can buy, sell, and collect digital assets in the form of highlights and cards.
While the sports industry, with its history of cards and collectibles may seem like a perfect match for NFTs, which are exploding in popularity, other industries have adopted, or are in the process of adopting NFTs as well. Artists like Banksy, known for his subversive and cutting-edge style,, sold a piece for $380,000. Electronic music artist, Tycho, announced that he would be offering his audio and visual products as NFTs. Even non-artists are realizing the long-term value of NFTs, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for a whooping $2.9 million.
The gaming industry, too, is beginning to take note of NFTs. Some companies are considering offering NFTs as in-game purchases, allowing players to buy unique, one of a kind skins (think costumes) for their characters. Along with offering in-game NFTs, some people are even trying to make games themselves NFTs. One of the creators of Vine (RIP), Dom Hoffman, is currently working on a new company called Supdive which would create unique, one of a kind games, selling them to video game fans all over the world who seek to own a piece of gaming history.
As NFTs become more mainstream, it seems that the theatre industry may be the next big frontier in this new and exciting digital space.
Theatre is the perfect industry to adopt the use of NFTs because of the prevalence of fans and collectors (one thing drama kids and jocks have in common). Theatre fans all over the world attend shows and line up during intermission or after the curtains fall to purchase items like souvenir cups, shirts, and posters. And surely every theatre fan has waited outside the stage doors to get a glimpse of (and maybe even take a picture with) the stars of the show.
Clothes purchased at a show, and pictures taken with actors, are unique items that theatre fans love to collect. NFTs are pretty much the same thing, only instead of hanging in your closet or being added to a beloved collection of signed Playbills, they live online.
theatre fans are unique, and therefore crave not only unique experiences, but unique memorabilia. And that’s what NFTs provide. Remember the Lebron James token that sold for all that money? Imagine replacing Lebron’s dunk with the Chicago cell block tango or when purchasing a ticket to a show, you have an option to also receive a one-of-one autographed digital version of that same ticket.
Original music is also an untapped market in the digital memorabilia space. According to an Adweek/Harris Ballot survey, 81% of respondents said they were “conscious” of NFTs. And out of those respondents, 36% said they would purchase a track over art (35%) and movies (33%). Think of the potential for original cast recordings to be auctioned off as NFTs, with a portion of the proceeds being distributed as revenue to the production’s cast and crew.
The theatre world has some of the most passionate and committed fans of any art form. Acolytes fly in from all corners of the world to that mecca of theatre, Broadway, for a chance to witness a show. Imagine a world where instead of flying from California to New York, you log on to your computer and watch a theatre performance in a digital space, then afterwards purchase a portion of the show as a digital artifact, allowing you to relive your favorite parts of the performance over and over again.
Digital collectibles in the form of NFTs are a booming business. Marketplaces like Third Act Digital are bringing to life this new opportunity for theatre fans to own a part of history. And it’s not all about buying and selling either. Just like NBA Topshot, theatre fans are able to connect through a company like Third Act’s various platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Discord to discuss all things on and off Broadway.
Along with other industries, theatre is slowly but surely beginning to adopt NFTs as both an alternative source of revenue for artists and craftspeople and a way to connect with fans and give them a memory they won’t soon forget. Theatre fans are not only on the lookout for that next great piece to add to their collection, they’re also some of the most devoted fans in the world who care passionately about supporting the art form. As a theatre fan, keeping an eye out on NFT marketplaces not only gives you an opportunity to add one-of-a-kind pieces to your collection, but also to create lasting value for the industry you love.