Token Gating: The Key To “Getting It”
I don’t think it’s a controversial idea that the average music fan has a skeptical view of NFTs - and, honestly, it’s somewhat warranted. They simply cannot wrap their heads around “owning a jpeg” or how that could possibly be valuable to them - especially with the eye-popping price tags touted on social media.
This is why you see so many skeptics chastising blockchain technology and “right-click save” tweeting anyone showing off their recent NFT purchase. They simply don’t see the same future web3 evangelists see.
In order to move past the “early adopter” phase of any new technology, you need to answer the biggest concerns of skeptics head-on rather than dismiss their worries as unfounded. There must be actual value in the technology that moves things forward, rather than change because the tech community wants to.
Over the last few months we have been speaking to hundreds of artists and their teams to get feedback and thoughts on NFTs. What are they excited about? What do they dislike? We’ve also been watching fan reactions when an artist enters this space to see how it’s received and where things fall short.
Aside from environmental concerns - which we’ve hopefully addressed in our “Why Solana?” post - there’s two recurring themes that seem to be most prevalent…
The Money Grab
Because of the mind boggling amount some projects are able to fetch and tout on social media — especially from well-established artists — many fans see NFTs as simply another way for the rich to get richer. Even worse, they often see the entire market as a tech-powered ponzi scheme, and the sticker shock from Ethereum “gas fees” only adds to the problem (another reason we chose Solana).
This leads to trepidation from artists who understand there is more to the technology and want to offer something creative to their fans, but don’t want to alienate the core that supports them in the first place.
Aside from simply offering NFTs at a price point the majority of fans can actually afford (or bundling it with physical merch 😉), it’s even more important that the NFT actually does something.
“It’s just a JPEG”
When I’m describing NFTs to someone I tend to use the analogy of a physical key and a deadbolt lock. The basic idea is - if you were to find a key on the side of the road, the value of that key is basically nothing more than the cost of the metal itself. But if you found out that key unlocked a door (you knew where the door was) and behind that door is a million dollars, how much is that key worth now?
There’s also some useful comparisons in that analogy in that you’d need custody of the key to unlock the door (unlike sharing a code or password) and photocopying the key (right-click save) won’t actually unlock the door either.
All of this is to say that owning an NFT should offer something more to the fan / holder than just being a collectible. There have been many attempts at this, but they are often confusing or add unnecessary friction to actually “claim” the value of their purchase.
From the day we started down the Web3 path at Single our main goal has been to treat NFTs as a key to unlock content and products. As part of that goal it needed to be seamless and intuitive for artists and their fans, while remaining easily editable so artists can add value to past NFT purchases at any time, without altering any code.
Over the next few weeks & months we will begin to roll out our token-gated commerce tools to enable Artists to gate access to exclusive livestreams, video-on-demand, products and hidden pages within their existing Shopify storefront. We’re even taking things a step further by giving the option of “# of uses” so fans could claim a set number of items (free or discounted or full price) based on your preference.
We see this as the building blocks for entirely new opportunities around pre-orders, unique content experiences, and fan clubs. We’re excited to show you what we’ve been working on very soon.
- Tommy Stalknecht
Founder & CEO, Single