Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
The phrase “deeper connection with fans” is probably one of the most overused expressions touted on nearly every creator or artist platform. The notion is well-intended, but it’s mostly an empty promise that’s rooted in transactional commerce rather than true connection or intimacy.
Is there any true connection between fans and artists right now?
Before the mainstream adoption of social media platforms, fans were often kept at an arm’s length from megastars like Michael Jackson and even Beyoncé — encouraging an almost idolized worship that even promoted royal epithets like “King” and “Queen.” Looking at today’s landscape, social media native artists like Harry Styles, Drake and Lady Gaga have embraced the use of these platforms to shift the paradigm. This new generation of artists understands the importance of creating a symbiotic relationship with their fans, tapping into the human desire for bond and connection.
This notion that artists want to be on the same level as their fans is paving the way for a massive shift in the industry. While social media platforms appear to be a great equalizer, in actuality, they are profiting off the interaction, arguably at the expense of the artist. However, as new platforms and technologies emerge, this strained relationship between creator and social media platform is becoming less necessary.
Cryptocurrency opens up an opportunity for community participation.
The quest for a deeper fan connection is missing one crucial element: direct fan participation. Crypto offers fans the opportunity to lock arms with an artist to build their digital economy and, for the first time, potentially earn together.
These innovative communities and new technologies and management systems currently exist in the form of social tokens. Creators can use this technology to build their personal cryptocurrency, a token to demonstrate their fandom. These tokens can be used as a method of purchasing perks from the artists like exclusive content, NFTs, personal experiences and even one-on-one conversations with fans. This two-way exchange allows for both the fans and the artist to actively participate in the growth and success of their community and economy, building upon the relationship previously established on social media without third-party intrusion or oversight.
Portugal. The Man, for instance, became the first Grammy-Award-winning rock band to launch their cryptocurrency community token PTM Coin. (Full disclosure: PTM is a Rally project.) Through the token, the band’s fans are now part owners of the band and earn rewards for being active participants of the community. Portugal. The Man looked to social tokens as a way to facilitate engagement with their fans amid a pandemic when typical channels like concerts or backstage meet-and-greets were not an option.
Other artists are testing crypto’s waters; Post Malone launched a celebrity beer pong league powered by NFTs, while Kings of Leon’s album was the first released as an NFT. The album’s token unlocks future concert tickets and limited-edition vinyl releases. Other artists are diving in headfirst; EDM artist RAC launched his own community cryptocurrency that unlocks access to a private Discord chat and future merch drops.
Crypto could facilitate the future of fan-artist connection.
We are just beginning to see how cryptocurrencies can be used by artists and creators. In the next few years, I truly believe that we will see this technology become a core part of artists’ marketing strategy as both a fan engagement tool and alternative revenue source. We will likely also see artists leverage blockchain-backed emerging technologies like NFTs in securing ticketing offerings and digital content and merchandise.
These artists have the opportunity to build entire empires on top of the blockchain, with album releases, music videos, merchandise and more, all powered by their community’s social token. The new creator economy is upon us and I believe it will only deepen the fan-artist connection, ushering in a new era where artists and fans create their economy together.