In Part 1 of this column for The NFT Creator, I discussed the concept of utility for NFTs, including the sometimes negative response from crypto artists. I also interviewed artist Second Realm who takes a broad view of the concept of utility while pointing out that different approaches to NFTs, such as 10k/PFP collections versus 1 of 1 crypto art, attract different collectors. For artists exploring the concept of utility, strengthening the relationship between artists and relevant collectors should always be the core focus.
In Crypto Artists and the Utility Dilemma, Part 1, Second Realm points out that collectors are not a homogeneous group. Most collectors dealing in 10k/PFP trading are focused on short-term returns and quick flips of NFTs as they rise in value. On the other hand, collectors focused on crypto art tend to take a longer-term approach.
Second Realm maintains that “if you’re collecting NFT art, you should be investing in the person. If you’re collecting NFT 10k’s, you should be investing in the project.” Whether or not collectors consciously follow such advice, artists would do well to look for collectors with long-term interest in their art and their trajectories as artists and to build ongoing relationships with them. The concept of utility can then be seen from the perspective of strengthening the artist/collector relationship.
Providing Utility as Access Through NFTs
When we step back from utility as an increasingly standardized array of perks and privileges expected from 10k/PFP collections, we can see utility as a broader range of options and approaches one can take to strengthen the artist/collector relationship. These options and approaches most often focus on the concept of ‘Access’ and use NFTs as tickets or passes of participation in a community, contact with the creator(s), and/or free giveaways.
Access, whether to the artist’s time, special events, or other perks, is not a new concept. Visual artists have long allowed studio visits and the chance to see works-in-progress to important collectors. Gallery openings and fundraisers are well-established forms of special events. Artists will sometimes give their collectors and supporters special gifts such as unique seasonal artist cards or special editions of prints.
Utility as access has been a large part of social money, crypto communities, and DAOS, and artists have participated in many of these experiments directly. William M. Peaster compiled examples of how NFTs are being used for access in a variety of settings. Unlock Protocol, which provides tools for NFT-permissioned memberships, took a look at how musicians have put such ideas to work. MyCrypto shares examples of access used by 10k/PFP collections and corporate marketers, which are also applicable to artists.
Examples of Artists Using NFTs for Access
Artists are building Access-based NFT-enabled relationships with their collectors in a variety of ways.
Options include giveaways to the collectors identified by previous purchases:
If you're ALREADY holding one or more of my works on @hicetnunc2000, you're about to get dropped another work for every edition you own. To manage expectations, if you own more than 1 of a given edition you won't get multiples. Not everyone will receive the same works. 🌈
— Kevin Abosch (@kevinabosch) September 14, 2021
The development of private communities accessible to those holding NFT art:
Secondary 🥀🔥 https://t.co/Le7Tp1N5hr
I have received some messages about getting into @Elysium_C_Guild which is a bountiful place. Holding multiple pieces from me, will get you in.
Below is a thread of early works that just popped up on the secondarypic.twitter.com/15Bs9SFK2J
— Laurence Fuller (@LaurenceFuller) August 12, 2021
And the creation of complicated schemes quite similar to 10k/PFP roadmaps:
I want to put together a great big group of collection holders & have a wonderful invest utility for everyone.
That's why I do it and enjoy it. LFG 🔥🚀✨@OpenSea #OpenSeaNFT 💎📸💎
Giveaway and else on schedule.😼👌
Road map updated https://t.co/qZ8LMfu3bP Please take a look 🙏 pic.twitter.com/bnyQPfkEvx
— KireevArt.eth (@KireevArt_NFT) September 10, 2021
This artist used Unlock Protocol to create an ongoing connection to his collectors:
We don't know what the next 3 years looks like in NFT world, so we can't always build something that will be relevant in the future. By creating an @UnlockProtocol social token for my collectors, I will have a direct link to my collectors for 100 yrs. That's so amazing! 6/6
— cstreet.eth (@crystaldstreet) August 27, 2021
Others, such as NFTS WTF DAO member Bryan Brinkman, are using Discord as a key collector community tool:
Speaking of which, here is a reminder that owning *ANY* NFT of mine grants you access to collectors-only sections of my discord and enters you to win future giveaways:https://t.co/SszP9EZH6h
— Bryan Brinkman (@bryanbrinkman) May 5, 2021
Access, or any other form of utility, can be as complicated or as straightforward a proposition as the artist wishes to put forth. Artists can take inspiration from such examples as art traditions, DAOs and social money. But ultimately, you, the artist, must decide the best way forward based on your needs/interests and those of your collectors.
Take Your Own Approach
As you explore the possibilities for providing utility to your collectors, consider how to deepen connections once access is established. For example, Second Realm’s NFT Impact Report takes an approach one might see from a nonprofit organization attempting to communicate the impact of its work and, by extension, the impact of donor dollars. In this case, it serves to communicate the impact of his work as an NFT creator not only to his current collectors but to possible future collectors as well.
Second Realm’s NFT Impact Report reveals his desire to connect with collectors through community tools such as Twitter, Discord and surveys. It notes his accomplishments in the field such as kicking off the Alt-Punks phenomenon and his interest in the field as a whole with such efforts as The Outer Realm podcast. And, of course, it provides insights into the art he’s created and the customer experience of his collectors.
While the form of an Impact Report may seem a bit alien to many artists, the final result draws together his efforts to date with his commitment to making a long-term impact on crypto art. This same information could be communicated in other forms and the specifics will, of course, look different for each artist.
Whatever the Buzz Word, Focus on Relationships with Collectors
At the end of the day, concepts such as utility and access are all possible elements of an artist’s marketing efforts. Each NFT creator has to take their own path in promoting their art and connecting to collectors. For the artist, emphasizing a connection and deepening that relationship should be the emphasis regardless of which concepts or tools are used to support this process.
Featured Image by anncapictures via Pixabay.