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Onchain Fandom

How fans and artists benefit from bringing fandom onchain.

Key Takeaways

  • Onchain fandom unifies and measures fan engagement across platforms, enhancing value creation.

  • Direct access to comprehensive fan data reshapes personalized artist-fan interactions.

  • Data fragmentation is eliminated, creating a more cohesive and actionable fandom graph.

  • Onchain fandom enables unique opportunities for cross-industry collaborations and marketing.

  • Transitioning to onchain fandom requires time and collaboration between new web3 platforms and traditional data holders.

Fandoms drive the entertainment industry. Strong fandoms are easy to observe but hard to measure.

How do you measure Taylor Swift's “fandom energy” aggregate value?

The concept of fandom is interesting because it exists abstractly. It’s comprised of data, actions, and engagements that’s highly fragmented.

Bringing fandom onchain can enable better experiences for all involved, more value creation, and ultimately better value capture.

Let’s explore how.

What is Fandom?

Fandom refers to the collective group of fans enthusiastic and supportive of a particular subject (books, TV shows, movies, celebrities, artists, etc.).

"Fandom” is a blend of two words:

  1. **Fan: “**fanatic”, indicating intense, enthusiastic devotion to something.

  2. -dom: Old English term indicating a state or condition, often collective, like "kingdom."

To have a fandom, you need fans and a means for them to belong to a collective based on shared enthusiasm.

There’s more to it, though. You’re a fan of something, right? You likely have a favorite artist, or several. Perhaps you enjoy a sport, like soccer or hockey, and have a favorite team and players.

Being a fan of one thing does not exclude other interests.

Multiplying Fandom

Consider one fan's total “fandom energy," often distributed across their various interests. Let’s consider this the levels and dimensions of fandom.

We can go further and illustrate a fan's belonging to different fandoms like this:

It resembles a graph, a network with nodes—the fandom graph.

We could add complexity by considering different levels of fandom, too. But let’s keep it simple for now.

This fandom graph is theoretical, not practical.

The Fragmentation of Fandom

The actions fans take and the engagements they show for their fandom produce data. Data that, in aggregate, paints a clear picture of fandom.

However, this data is fragmented and scattered across the internet.Take a music artist, for example:

  • Music streaming data on Spotify

  • Tour and ticketing data on Ticketmaster

  • Merchandise sales data on Shopify

  • Social media data across Instagram and TikTok

  • Fan club data from Discord or other community tool

The only person who fully understands their fandom is the fan herself. And even she may not have the complete picture.

If Beyoncé tours, she can't provide pre-sale access to top fans based on data from the whole graph. Instead, it might occur through proxies like "fan club members," but fandom and fan clubs differ.

We can create similar “fragmentation-stacks” for movies, actors, sports, and players.

Artists and fans would benefit from organic and accessible proof-of-fandom.

Bringing Fandom Onchain

Instead of the above data fragmentation, imagine this:

A fan creates data by interacting with her favorite artist through streaming, ticket purchases, and social media engagement. This data is stored onchain and it accumulates to her wallet. Where she goes, her data goes.

Since it’s onchain, it’s accessible and aggregable.

Let’s say their favorite artist is Beyonce, and she’s touring.

Beyoncé (or likely her team :-) can segment and identify fans within the entire fandom graph.

  • Create an exclusive fan club accessible only with proper proof-of-fandom.

  • Grant superfans access to ticket presales based on a set of criteria

  • Gift the top 1% of ticket-buying fans an NFT redeemable for free tour merchandise.

Creating a living, evolving, accessible fandom graph enables new fan experiences and unlocks value for artists and fans.

Taking It Further

Bringing fandom onchain solves the data fragmentation problem, transforming the abstract fandom graph into existence and creating new opportunities in the artist-fan relationship.

But, it doesn’t have to stop there.

A person can be a fan of multiple subjects simultaneously, such as various artists or both artists and sports teams. The onchain fandom graph enables exploration and creation of value in overlaps and intersections of the graph.

This can yield interesting opportunities: an artist identifying an overlap in their fanbase to utilize, for cross-promotion for inbstance.

And it’s not just fans and artists who can use this it. Third parties can access the data and get involved. Starbucks could offer free drinks to top Beyoncé fans on concert day as a marketing stunt.

The first-degree and third-party opportunities to evolve the fandom experience through onchain methods represent an entirely new design space. I expect these opportunities to be far more extensive and exciting than the basic examples I've provided.

Getting There

The Onchain Fandom thesis is just that—a thesis. Currently, most fandom graph data isn't onchain. It’s not in a public ledger but in private company databases like Spotify, Meta, Ticketmaster, and others.

Bringing fandom onchain will take time. All three companies are exploring web3 and blockchain technologies, but it doesn’t mean they’re interested in “setting the fandom data free”. Most likely not.

On the other end of the spectrum, new companies native to this new chapter of the internet exists.

Sound.xyz is a platform for streaming and collecting music. Medallion aims to bring the fan-artist relationship onchain. Others are working in this space as well.

This thesis requires patience, but I’m convinced we’ll gradually move in this direction. It will accelerate when artists, players, and fandom subjects see the value unlocked by bringing fandom onchain.


You can follow me on Twitter / LinkedIn or signup to the newsletter here. 

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