When it was launched 40 years ago on August 1, 1981, MTV marked the start of a new era where artists forged deeper bonds with fans through music videos, live interviews, live performances and contests. While there have been huge changes in all aspects of the music industry since then I would say nothing has sparked the same fan outpouring and reshaped the way artists connect with their followers. , just like MTV did.
So far with cryptocurrency.
We’re just starting to see artists of all skill levels experimenting with their own cryptocurrencies to tap into new revenue streams and deeper fan engagement. Performers are embracing it as an alternative to the big tech-owned social media platforms that have benefited from their work over the past decade. And just like the early years of MTV, cryptocurrency has the same independent game-changing spirit to shake up the system and the potential to massively change pop culture.
From its inception, MTV understood the symbiotic relationship between artists and fans and contributed to a significant shift in the business model of the industry, where fans expected interaction with their favorite artists. During my time at MTV (and net sister CMT) from 2010 to 2018, the brand continued to grow beyond music, but this fundamental understanding was still present in early experiments on digital platforms.
With the O Music Awards, MTV launched new ways for fans and artists to connect online, including the world’s largest digital music festival and the record-breaking Flaming Lips tour in which they gave eight concerts in 24 hours, starting in Memphis and ending in New Orleans. The launch of the MTV Artists platform in 2012 marked an ambitious effort to help artists enter our halls by submitting their own videos to stream on MTV, VH1, and CMT, while also creating a one-stop-shop where fans could listen to and buy music, buy tickets, and more. At the 2013 VMAs, we delivered a new kind of immersive experience, giving viewers the ability to choose camera feeds and chat with fellow fans around the world. And for the past five years, CMT has been pushing for equality with the “Next Women of Country” campaign, which introduces fans to promising female artists who have been largely ignored by country radio.
As MTV innovated during this time, social media startups, music streaming services, and video platforms were taking off and showing tremendous promise in bringing fans closer to their favorite artists like never before. Just as social media was gaining traction in 2013, MTV released a study called ‘Music to the M Power’ which showed how social media was breaking down barriers between artist and fans, creating a ‘zero distance’ effect. “. More than half of millennials said they felt closer to their favorite acts when sharing personal information with them.
Despite a promising start, when we analyze the digital landscape today, there are still factors that are causing disruptions in the artist-fan relationship. While we have the ability to access almost any recorded music from our smartphones, we’ve sacrificed privacy for urgency. Twitter and Instagram allow followers to access their favorite artists with the push of a button, but there’s no real sense of connection. Streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube provide a way for fans to access music quickly and affordably, but there is a lack of engagement and enthusiasm across these mediums. Fans are just a number on a screen, a contributor to the number of listeners.
But crypto has the potential to close this gap. Where fans have always been on the arena floor watching the artist, along with crypto, for the very first time, fans and performers are winning together. Fans are holders of a token demonstrating their super fandom and can use this token as a pass to exclusive content, NFTs, experiences and communities of their favorite artists. Artists can offer goods and services in exchange for their own currency, and fans and creators alike can participate in the growth and success of this economy. Every day with Rally, I work with creators to experience seemingly endless benefits for fans. Rally has collaborated with Portugal The Man, who seeks to reinvent the fan club with crypto, the Grammy-winning producer of Beyoncé! Llmind, who collaborates on new music with fans, and DJ Wax Motif, who will leave you hanging out with him. at a music festival.
Just as music videos existed before MTV, the concept of social tokens and NFT is nothing new. In recent years, there has been a massive investment in building software, networks, and platforms capable of building NFTs and launching social tokens at zero or extremely low cost. This ease of use opened up access to technology and led to experimentation amplified by mostly emerging artists.
Crypto allows artists of all skill levels to own their financial relationship with fans instead of relying on the traditional system of record labels and / or tech giants to mediate. Artists use NFTs to earn years of streaming revenue in a day and unlock unique experiences for fans without relying on a centralized platform to facilitate it. Additionally, crypto gives artists control over their own economic success. Over the next few years, we’ll see crypto become the heart of an artist’s strategy, not only as a fan engagement tool, but as a consistent revenue generator as well. We’ll see artists building their empires around crypto: from album releases to new music videos and merchandise powered by their social tokens. NFTs will be used for secure ticketing, ensuring performers will win even if the ticket is scalped. The power dynamic between fans and artists will change and finally put fans on par with their favorite artists, creating a much needed sense of community where artists and fans together are building a whole new digital economy.
Just as it seemed almost unfathomable that a little upstart on a new medium would forever change the music landscape, crypto offers artists and their fans endless connection points, while taking the business to the next level. with an alternative source of income that brings greater value to the creator-fan relationship.
Kurt Patat is Global Head of Communications at Rally and officially SVP of Communications at MTV / CMT.