Steve Jenner has worked at the forefront of event technology for many years. Here he tells Access about what he believes will be a transformative new tech-driven era for the industry.

When Coachella added an extra $1.5million to its bottom line this February selling its first NFTs, the live events industry raised a collective eyebrow. Very few people had seen this coming or realised this significant new revenue stream was available to festivals.

Awareness is growing that this potentially valuable new revenue source is available to anyone with an engaged audience, tickets and some IP.

NFTs became a $50billion market in 2021, now turning over $10-$20m weekly. The live entertainment industry is tipped for a leading role in its stratospheric future, due to the technology’s capability to bring benefits around rights ownership, resale and monetising digital assets. Staggering sums are being made: Snoop Dog generating $44m in just five days releasing new music, DJ Steve Aoki reportedly made more money from a single NFT drop than the rest of his 10-year career combined.

My conversations with festival promoters reveal a mood of reserved caution around the hype. I invested time to understand where NFTs sit in the new web-3 world and I believe it is a lack of understanding, coupled with cutting through the sheer amount of noise and jargon, to activate the potential opportunities  – and they are exciting.

At first, I found myself similarly bamboozled by confusing, unnecessary tech-babble, while the ‘infinite possibilities’ on offer only blurred out the real opportunities. The apparent link to Crypto did little to calm my nerves until in-depth research reassured me that Crypto currency has no bearing on the viability of NFTs. They do both make use of blockchain technology which is, by its very nature, extremely robust.

It is important to realise that the $50bn NFT market moves independently of Crypto, unaffected by its erratic dance.

The guiding lights for any event organiser wishing to navigate through the fog to take their first steps into this bold new world are the illuminating case studies of those who have already walked before them.

Coachella kept it simple, and engaged their audience by offering a product that anyone could understand, whether or not they’d heard of NFTs. Coachella’s NFT drop consisted of tickets, VIP perks and photos – all assets they had at their disposal for negligible cost. Elrowtown Madrid took a fun approach, using gamification, resulting in 50,000 NFTs claimed by its attendees, alongside 500 virtual Easter eggs dropped via an on-site AR game. Steve Machin from Vatom, who provided the tech, tells me, “All winners claimed their VIP prizes within one hour of doors opening, which shows what is possible when NFT technology is frictionless and enhances the fan experience.”

This is NFTs’ Wild West period. As a friend of mine remarked recently, if live event organisers know anything, they know how to thrive in the Wild West – they created it. The trick to this one is to move sooner rather than later, but with caution, on an already-trodden path. If you get it right, you might just strike gold.