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Why Should Celebrities Be Interested in NFTs?

Why Should Celebrities Be Interested in NFTs?

The Non-Fungible Token (NFT) industry can be traced back to the early days of the internet. The first NFTs were digital collectibles created on forums and message boards. These tokens were simply images or text used to represent a unique asset.

However, it wasn't until the development of blockchain technology that NFTs really began to take off. Blockchain provided a way to securely and permanently store data on a decentralized ledger. This made NFTs much more secure and trustworthy than traditional digital collectibles.

Since then, the NFT industry has exploded in popularity. Millions of dollars worth of NFTs have been sold, and the market is only getting bigger. With the help of blockchain, the NFT industry is revolutionizing the way we think about digital ownership.

This article discusses NFTs, including where they came from, important milestones, and what to expect in the future.

The Origin of NFTs

The first-ever known non-fungible token (NFT) was created in 2014 by Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash. It was called Quantum and consisted of a video clip of digital art created by McCoy’s wife, Jennifer. Originally, the technology was called “monetized graphics,” and Quantum was registered on the Namecoin blockchain and sold to Dash for $4. Today, it’s on sale for $7M.

In October of 2015, three months after the launch of the Ethereum blockchain, the first NFT project, Ehteria, was launched and demonstrated at DEVCON 1 in London. Most of the 457 NFTs went unsold for more than five years until March 13, 2021, as interest in NFTs was renewed. These remaining pieces sold out in 24 hours for a total of $1.4M. At the time of their launch in 2015, their cost was only $0.43 each.

Increased public awareness began in 2017 when an online game CryptoKitties monetized cat NFTs. During 2020, the value of the NFT market exploded, tripling to $250M. During the first quarter of 2021, more than $200M was spent on NFTs.

Or Was the Origin in 2012?

There is another origin story out there on NFTs worth discussing, known as Colored Coins. Colored Coins, created in 2012-2013, are made of small bitcoin denominations–known as a single satoshi–which can be used to represent a multitude of assets and have multiple uses, including:

  • Coupons
  • Property
  • Issue shares of a company
  • Ability to issue your own cryptocurrency
  • Digital collectibles
  • Access tokens

Unfortunately, the whole Colored Coin system carries several flaws. But, they played a significant role in laying the groundwork for NFTs. You can learn more about them here in the “Overview of Colored Coins.” 

Counterpoint: “Counterparty”

Another early consideration for the creation of NFTs is Counterparty. Counterparty is a peer-to-peer financial platform and distributed, open-source Internet protocol built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain. It allowed asset creation and even included a trading card game and meme trading, where Rare Pepes originated.

Rare Pepes

In October 2016, “rare pepes” were issued along the Counterparty platform. A rare pepe is a meme featuring a frog character that has developed an intense fanbase. Besides being incredibly quirky, the uniqueness of these images makes them such desirable NFTs. 

How the NFT space has evolved

In simple terms, an NFT is a unit of data stored on a variety of digital ledgers called a blockchain, which can be sold and traded. But, what started as a simple video clip has evolved into many use cases across various industries. But, perhaps none is more compelling than the art industry.

The History of NFT Art

Art is perhaps the most common way to use NFTs, as auctions from high-profile NFTs have made the biggest splash in public attention. Currently, the most expensive NFT ever sold was at an auction price of $91.8M–work by artist Pak, entitled The Merge.

The merge

The Merge is both a single piece of artwork and a series of artworks. When it launched, buyers could purchase an NFT, called a mass, for a set amount of money ($575). However, for buyers who purchased more than one mass, instead of receiving another NFT, their current mass actually increased in size. The price of a mass NFT grew throughout the sale, and buyers who bought a lot of mass were rewarded with free mass. 

It sounds a little confusing, but if you can picture a tiny ball of mercury as one mass, then add other tiny balls of mercury to it, you can see how each comes together to get bigger and bigger. That’s what The Merge is and was before the sale was brought to a close. Now, even though the launch is over, buyers and traders can still sell or trade their NFTs to grow their mass bigger, making their NFT more valuable. 

In the end, more than 28,000 buyers spent over $91M on what has been one of the most compelling NFT art concepts to date.

Everydays: The first 5000 days

The second most expensive (at $69M) was a piece of artwork by Michael Winkelmann–known as Beeple–called Everydays: the First 5000 Days.

Beeple is a graphic designer and motion artist from South Carolina who is well-renowned in the digital art world. However, his rise to fame reached a new height with his NFT collage created from 5,000 images created daily for 13 years. The images were put together and formed one NFT unit that sold for almost $70M making it the third-most-expensive piece of art ever sold.

CryptoPunks

Perhaps, the most well-known NFT digital art pieces are the collection of CryptoPunks, which is credited with starting the NFT craze of 2021.  

CryptoPunks is a series of 10,000 unique collectible characters stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Each character is created using an algorithm and no two are identical. The images are 24x24 pixels and feature some combination of guys, girls, apes, zombies, and aliens. While some of the images share attributes, the rarest ones feature the fewest attributes. For example, on the current marketplace, CryptoPunk 5822 is on sale by the owner for $34.89M. It features one attribute–a bandana–which is only shared by 481 punks. 

Perhaps the wildest part of CryptoPunks is that initially, they were all free. One simply had to claim them. Now they sell for hundreds of thousands to multi-millions of dollars.

CryptoKitties

In the 90s, we had Tomagotchi–a handheld digital pet that you could feed, love, and–if neglected–kill. In the 2020s, we have CryptoKitties! CryptoKitties are digitally created breedable and collectible cats. Each is one-of-a-kind and cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed.

It turns out that breeding digital pets is big business for at least a short period of time. While CryptoKitties was the first widely recognized blockchain game and featured astronomical growth, the popularity was short-lived. In fact, it reached its peak on December 10th, 2017. But, by the beginning of 2018, the game’s popularity fell by 90% of users. However, for those that were fortunate during that short time. One CryptoKitty fetched $1.3M, another $566,000, and the third most expensive CryptoKitty was sold for $107,000.

Bored Ape Yatch Club

Similar to CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a collection of 10,000 unique, algorithm-created images. Except instead of aliens, zombies, and humans, BAYC features images of–you guessed it–apes. In March of 2022, sales of BAYC made up more than a third of total NFT sales. In January of 2022, BAYC surpassed $1B in total sales.

Who Can Create & Purchase NFTs?

The easy answer is that anyone can create or purchase NFTs. Some companies help guide you through the process of creation, connecting your content through blockchain, and getting the proper paperwork done to develop your own NFTs. Purchasing is also as easy as connecting with an online marketplace and working with vendors to purchase or acquire the NFTs you want.

You can launch your NFT collection in seconds with Mantial. We assist everyone, from entrepreneurs to celebrities and large companies throughout the whole process of conception, sales, and management of NFT collections.

In Conclusion

The future is wide-open for the NFT industry. As it becomes more and more popular, creators and even NFT experts are still exploring the possibilities of this technology and how it collides with our everyday lives. While the exact future of NFTs is uncertain, the market is expected to continue growing, and NFTs worth millions of dollars today could be worth billions in the future. 

And, when money like that is involved, everyone will want a piece of the action.

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The Walking Dead

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Rick’s NFT

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The Walking Dead

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Michonne’s NFT

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Celebrities are usually the first ones invited to any party, and wouldn’t you know it, it looks like the wild world of NFTs is no different. Many of us don’t even know what they are, but in January 2022, sales of NFTs soared to a peak record $1 billion in sales per week. That’s right, $1 billion with a “B.” Sales have dropped quite a bit recently but still hundreds of millions of dollars in NFT sales are being reported every week. And just think, a couple of years ago, hardly anyone had even heard of them. Perhaps one reason so many are jumping into NFTs is because of the increasing number of celebrity collections, promotions, and other connections to the stars.

So, why are so many celebrities promoting them? And why are they increasing in value as a branding, engagement, investment, and charity tool which has attracted the likes of Snoop Dogg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Shaquille O’Neal (among others.)

So, let's start talking about recent celebrity NFTs and why celebs love them so much. 

What’s a NFT?

You can’t talk about NFTs without talking about blockchain and cryptocurrency. In addition to being the infrastructure for Bitcoin, blockchain-based platforms are the foundation for other platforms including NFTs (non-fungible tokens) These digital assets are recorded on and tracked using blockchain technology. Because of this tech, any sale or resale of a NFT item is forever authenticated through the platform. 

Most NFTs are sold in digital format as digital illustrations or other graphics, photographs, music files, literature, etc. But they also can be emails, software, animations, visual presentations, Word documents, PDFs, tweets. Technically, NFTs can be created out of anything of value, even real-world items like a deed to a house, as long it’s tracked on blockchain. (Usually, services selling NFTs don’t oversee physical goods sales, however.

NFTs can provide royalties to celebrity sellers

Celebrities may make more money on NFT sales down the road that some NFT sales may include smart contracts that let them and other creators get royalties from their work, even if it’s resold. If the NFT keeps selling, they keep getting paid, since all sales, trades, and resales are tracked using technology. 

One example is EDM musician and DJ, Steve Aoki who launched his NFT collaboration with artist Antoni Tudisco. Within two hours, the pair earned $4.35 million for the effort. Though Aoki, a successful DJ, makes most of his money at live events, after making 888,888.88 on one particular NFT in 2021, he said that he made more money on that particular NFT already, than from any royalties and advances from his recorded musical work so far. Aoki, who has a huge media presence and following, thinks NFTs will change the way musicians are compensated, putting the pressure on labels to do more.

Celebrities can use NFTs to build their brand

Creating NFTs are yet another way for musicians, actors, other entertainers and creators to excite fans while making a little money doing their side hustle. It’s a way for them to create new fans who may become more familiar with their “day job” after purchasing one of their NFTs. It gives them another excuse to put themselves in front of the public and promote other projects that may potentially bring them even more money. The only bad publicity is “no publicity” in many cases. 

NFTs are a perfect fit for musicians, digital-based artists 

Any celebrity can collaborate with an artist or someone else with visual skills to create a customized NFT for them to sell and promote. But NFT sales are especially suitable for musicians, graphic artists, filmmakers and other celebrities who are already creating digital products as part of their art form, creating more avenues of revenue.

These artists often have live performances, Comic-Con and other fan events where they sell collectibles already. Because of this, they excel at NFTs because already attuned to what their fans want because they constantly communicate with them. Though many of these artists may be “celebrities” it is also useful for younger artists who can use these NFT drops for additional publicity.

  • Songwriters may sell a digital PDF or other document of their signed, handwritten music and lyrics
  • Musicians can sell MP4s of previously unreleased works, or music created especially for NFT auction, variations on previous works, etc.
  • Writers can sell unpublished works, or exclusive material written just for auction
  • Illustrators can sell. jpegs of photos, illustrations, and more 
  • Filmmakers can create special short films for NFT auction
  • Comic book artists may sell graphic books, special artwork for fans\
Nft perfect fit for musicians

NFTs can be used to increase fan, consumer engagement

Corporations and savvy marketing-focused celebs are using NFTs as a way to increase engagement. Not surprisingly, one way NFTs are used most is by brands and celebs looking to tap into the gaming community. Gamers, esports fans and other communities that are tech savvy tend to be loyal to brands that can find the right way to communicate to them. What better way than to reach this audience than using NFTs? 

For example, some celeb brands like Coach and Gucci both have started selling “digital” Birkin bags. No, you can’t wear these digital only bags in real life, but in the digital world, you’ll look like a celebrity. 

Meanwhile, others offer NFTs to reward fans for taking certain actions for which they get a prize (gamification), like a NFT. Various eSports brands with strong connection to NFL, NBA, MLB,  and other sports stars, not surprisingly, are among some at the forefront of this engagement strategy. 

Some miscellaneous corporate NFTs

Asics, Estee Lauder, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Pringles, Coca Cola and many other brands now use their own distinct types of NFTs to appeal to younger demographics attuned to this trend. You can’t wear those digital sneakers or eat those digital chips of course but you have major street cred for owning one.

Some recent celebrity NFTS cases

Snoop Dogg, musician/entrepreneur

In February 2022, Snoop Dogg announced that Death Row Records (which he recently purchased) could become the first major NFT record label. The rapper already had various high-profile experiences with the NFT world. Earlier this year, he released a NFT collection publicizing the launch of his new album. The NFT collection alone has already grossed more than $50 million in sales at last report. Purchasers of his collection were given a NFT of a song from his album when it was later released. The rapper also has gone on record stating that he owns an extensive NFT collection worth $17 million.

Lindsay Lohan, actor

Lindsay Lohan was one of the first celebrity NFT sellers, releasing a song called “Lullaby” as a NFT in early 2021. Lohan did the NFT with DJ Manuel. For both, the NFT is great publicity. Because so many celebrity NFTs involve collaborations between famous figures and other artists, they have the opportunity to be seen by other audiences than normal. 

Oleksandra Oliynykova, tennis player

Not everyone has a large fan base before starting their first NFT. Take the case of an up-and-coming WTA tennis player, Oleksandra Oliynykova, who took NFTs to a new level by creating a NFT of her “tennis arm.” No, Oleksandra didn’t actually give up a body part. Instead, one arm was sold as a “human billboard” with the promise she’d tattoo a message or ad (permanent or temporary ink) that could be seen whenever she played. According to Forbes, Oleksandra’s “arm NFT” sold for three ETH (ether.) That was around $5,415 USD (then) and now is worth almost $11,000,00. Though cash is always appreciated,  those write-ups in national magazines will go a long way toward getting her more lucrative sponsorship deals and help with branding.

John Legend, musician

John Legend has been linked to a few high profile NFT collections including one called Man and the Beat with artist Marina Picaso. Their collection was released with a “snip” of a Legend collaboration with the musician Nas. 

Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks/Shark Tank

Billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner and one of the stars of Shark Tank, Mark Cuban has become a fan of NFTs recently. He professes to have invested in several NFT collections as well as technology companies in the NFT space.

Never one to pass up an opportunity on SharkTank or with his real-life portfolio, when speaking to CNBC Cuban revealed the ability to earn royalties on secondary sales of NFTs was a big factor in his decision to create one of his own. The fact that you could take something as simple as a digital file, and earn not only on the initial sale, but get a portion of secondary earnings is big, because “you can’t do that with physical products,” Cuban remarked. 

Grimes, musician

The musician, Grimes, was also early to the celebrity NFT game, releasing several video NFTs the same month as Lindsay Lohan (March 2021.) The NFTs, made from artwork she previously created, raised around $6 million. Though the winning bidderes own the NFT, Grimes did not sell the original artwork, which she still owns and can resell. So not only does the artist get the publicity and cash, but they can also still sell the original artwork, because as is often the case, only rights to the digital token of their work was sold as a NFT. 

LeBron James, basketball star

A video clip of basketball star LeBron James was sold as a NFT by one marketplace. The video of him dunking at the hoop sold for $200,000. Recently, James appeared in a commercial for Crypto.com featuring a raffle of another video NFT, this one made by the company and LeBron especially for the Super Bowl promotion and ad.

NASA

Yes, even NASA is selling NFTs. They auctioned a one-of-a-kind watch designed by the creator of their famous NASA logo. The winning buyer purchased a NFT to get the watch, which came with an autograph from the designer Richard Danne, as well as a secret video and audio.

Beeple artwork

The most expensive digital asset reported to be sold so far is a Beeple NFT. The NFT was a collage of 5000 individual digital pieces of artwork and sold for a whopping $69 million. With an auction that happened at Christies it was the first NFT sold in a real-world auction house. Beeple has sold additional millions in other NFT sales. So, blame Beeple too for the celebrity craze. Because $69 million is a lot of money for a digitally created collage, even if it came with a frame.

Beeple Human One NFT

Some recent high profile celebrity charity NFTs

Using NFTs to raise funds for charity is still in its infancy, but it’s an idea well worth looking at for celebrities. It’s a great way for stars who are genuinely invested in a particular cause to raise funds, create awareness

Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder

The founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, sold an NFT of the social platform’s very first recorded tweet, sent by Dorsey himself in 2006. The winning bid, reportedly over 2.5 million dollars, was earmarked for charity. The tweet is still on Twitter, though the buyer officially owns the NFT version-of the tweet. 

Ellen DeGeneres, talk show host

The comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres raised over $33k for charity after auctioning a NFT for the World Central Kitchen.

Edward Snowden, whistleblower

Now living in an undisclosed Russian location, Edward Snowden auctioned off some original art as a NFT for over $5 million USD. The NFT was artwork made from a photo of Snowden combined with some of the paperwork from the U.S. Court of Appeals decision concerning his whistleblower case. The money raised will go to nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation,

Sir Tim Berners Lee, founder of the World Wide Web

The creator of the internet (yes, someone invented it) took in over $5 million for charity after auctioning off some of the original code for the world wide web (aka the Internet) with the money to be given to charity. The NFT also included an animation and a letter from Lee.

Celebs love NFTs, and the world of NFTs love them back

That’s it for our look at celebrities and NFTs. Hopefully, you learned something from this article. As you can see, the worlds of celebrity and NFTs intersect in a lot of unusual ways, useful not only for their marketing potential, but as a way to genuinely engage with fans and raise funds for worthy causes. As NFTs continue to rise in popularity, celebrities will likely continue their involvement with NFTs.