How Can Cause Artists and Athletes Change the World? - Rolling Stone
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How Can Cause Artists and Athletes Change the World?

Misfits who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

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Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.

Cause artists, cause athletes, spiritual activists, social entrepreneurs and impact investors constantly look at the world around them and imagine possibilities — just like futurists do. You could call them purpose-driven leaders with a true North Star.

While so many may see them as the crazy ones, I see genius. Misfits who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do. They can change things. Cause artists and athletes are misfits who genuinely care for the greater good. They use their talents, skills and network to change the world.

Their weapons of mass affection? Artists can mobilize billions of fans to become a force of good.

Why Are Artists Moving Beyond Big Tech?

Managers and marketers are seeing Big Tech players squeezing artists like lemons. Recording artists often struggle to keep even low percentages of their total income. Players like Apple Music pay mere cents on the dollar per stream — $0.01 to be exact. Or consider Meta, which is planning to take 47.5 percent in its metaverse. Today’s long-term strategic marketing game? Own your IP and own your fan relations. Move beyond the Big Tech syndicate.

How about artistic creativity and free speech? How long will artists accept Big Tech’s approach to content censoring? Speak to your fans directly. Social media are squeezing the organic fan reach of artists. Do artists need to pay for fans on lease (for every fan connection)? In recent years, some brands and artists have acted like race dogs, chasing vanity metrics and likes. Time to think beyond social media tactics and go to communities.

Beyond Big Tech’s long arm is where the magic really happens. Flip the funnel: Use socials to pull your fans into your owned media channels, communities and CRM databases.

Artists Accelerating with Blockchain, NFTs and Social Tokens

Smart artists look at blockchain to fuel smart and transparent contracting. Artist Beeple inspired the world, selling his first NFT art collection for $69 million — and he is not a one-trick pony.

Fans can now move beyond Nike stock and can, in a sense, own a piece of their favorite artist that grows if the value of that specific artist rises. That’s the next level of marketing and loyalty. Certainly, when you compare the power of NFT and social tokens to selling fans old-school paid memberships, martech and adtech are about adding new value, not spamming people in new ways.

Protect your IP. Connect to your fans direct. Consider getting into NFTs or crypto. Soon social tokens could enable artists to reimagine their fan relations and business models.

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Cause Artists and Charitable DJs in Dance Music

Cause artists and athletes combined have billions of fans. Can you imagine if we all mobilize our fans to do good? It would be an army of many.

Modern techno DJs are also giving back. Ida Engberg, Carl Cox, Seth Troxler, Steve Angello and David Guetta are raising awareness for socio-economic gaps and building global communities through music and culture. DJs are sharing their streaming royalties with NGOs, or they ask their fans to help crowdfund a social enterprise. Next levels? NFT to do good and the rise of social tokens.

For instance, artists can auction a backstage photo or an exclusive video. Certified, licensed and IP-owning artists could add 15-20 percent royalties. If the art piece (NFT) is sold again, the royalties go to the artist or to the selected cause. That’s your NFT business case. That’s also your NFT do-good business case.

Inspiring Cause Athletes and Social Entrepreneurs

Get inspired by Serena Williams. The tennis star backs 60 social enterprises, and she has raised $111 million in her fund Serena Ventures. Or look to Novak Djokovic, with his Novak Foundation that helps young kids with education. Remember Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup? He crowdfunded and raised venture capital to drastically reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans. Can you imagine if we would find and fund nine more people like Slat? Our oceans could be plastic-free far sooner.

Private space companies are now flying into space. Just take a look at the evolution of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. In a recent interview, Matrix star Keanu Reeves said, “…the real world is almost ahead of our science fiction.” What happens to us after our Walt Disney age? Society seems to break our imagination and dreams.

The main challenge from my perspective, however, is not about technology. It’s about our mindset and culture. Techoptimists believe in human-inspired social innovation and tech to do good. With exponential technologies, we can move at a massive scale and rapid pace. Exponential means we can move much faster than ever before. I realize that technology can empower or control society. Do we want social credit systems, surveillance societies and totalitarian technocracies?

Becoming a Next-Level Cause Artist

Find your cause or purpose — your true North Star, a concise and universal set of ideals.

Next, find your inner Williams, Djokovic or Slat.

Move beyond social media and own your IP, content, media and fans. Consider translating your IP to NFTs, social tokens and smart contracts. Mobilize your fans to do good.


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