Art, design and other creative and cultural spheres have already spilled over from the physical to the digital world, with streaming smartphones, social media, podcasts, online gaming and sports-betting and ebooks, audiobooks and digital newspapers and magazines have all become a part of accepted everyday life. In light of this, creators and marketers in all venues have been seeking new ways to monetize creativity and culture, and investors have followed, seeking ways to continue making money off of the products of that creativity and culture.
NFTs or non-fungible tokens do just that, creating value out of digital assets by making them unique and trackable. Like any other investable asset, from real estate to stocks, they’re all about scarcity and demand. Thanks to blockchain technology and our increasingly digital world, NFTs have managed to achieve both.
Lately, NFTs have penetrated so many key areas of pop culture, including sports, music and gaming. Creators have already produced NFTs of music album cover art, online avatars, virtual replicas of real monuments, panels of comic books, sports athletes and more.
IRL vs. Digital
Society has already accepted physical, tangible assets, or IRL assets (for “in real life”), so, the NFT community asks, what’s the difference between digital assets? If an investor can own a piece of artwork they can hang on a wall or store in a vault, why can’t that investor own a piece of digital art, like an avatar or a gif, and use that unique art to represent him or herself online or just keep it stored securely on the blockchain? NFT investors argue there is no difference.
The real difference between IRL assets and digital assets like NFTs appears to be in the type of investors each attracts. It may be, as society moves ever further into a digital world (AI, AR, VR, the metaverse) the generations growing up in that world would have an easier time recognizing the value of digital assets, and the flow of investment capital may shift ever further from traditional to digital assets as the older generations decline and the younger ones rise.
As people start streaming more sports than they watch on TV; as emails, texts and social apps, each with its avatar and/or signature, become ever more inculcated into modern culture; as musicians and artists find new ways to capture lost audiences and revenue from streaming and live tours; as metaverses start expanding the real estate market into the digital realm: NFTs will continue to proliferate pop culture.
The latest in the NFT infusion into pop culture are NFTs that sell with IRL bonuses. Like in the near future, we’ll see musical artists, sports teams, video game makers and others start selling NFTs that come with exclusive access to various kinds of real-life content with the purchase.
The Future of NFTs
So, what’s the future hold for NFTs? Whether digital collectibles are a gold rush or a legitimate long-term investment, ultimately only time will tell. Either way, as the constant influx of NFT-related headlines show, they’ve already infused themselves into many corners of popular culture and integrated themselves into the regular lives of fans and collectors.
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