Fan Tokens

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Maybe you were an early fan of a musician, athlete, or actor before they made it big. Possibly you were listening to Drake before he took over the top of the charts. Did you love LeBron back in high school and believe he would live up to the “Chosen One” accolade? Maybe you saw Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and were sure he was destined to be an Oscar winner. If so, hopefully you at least told a friend or two and earned some bragging rights. However, you don’t have what the kids call the “receipts” to prove it. With fan tokens on the blockchain, there would be no denying your prediction skills and early fandom.

Fan tokens are coins issued by an individual, sports team, or other entity to help them build a community. These are the same as any other Cryptocurrency. They are sold in an initial token offering to fans. They can trade on exchanges, so that when the next Drake goes from unknown to huge star, the price is likely to rise along with his stardom. Stars that issue these fan tokens are exploring creative ways to give value to their communities, much like NFT groups or DAOs. This can include access to virtual or IRL events, exclusive merch, early looks at new content, and much more. In the future, I expect major music artists to offer concert tickets first to fan token holders, and maybe give them sneak peaks into new songs. Athletes could use fan tokens to gate access to locker room or training videos. Movie stars could give their token holders first crack at tickets to hot new films. We are starting to see stars letting their fans vote on what sneakers they wear in a game, what video games they play, and more. Anything is possible here.

Stars can create these coins themselves or can launch their fan tokens on dedicated platforms like Rally. Rally has worked with 150+ creators and organizations such as Grammy-award winner Portugal the Man ($PTM), international soccer star Keisuke Honda ($KSK), Oregon football standout Kayvon Thibodeaux ($JREAM), and global esports organization Gen.G ($GGSC). Rally has raised over $50MM in venture capital to launch its platform to issue and trade these fan tokens. They have their own $RLY token that has a $550MM market cap. They are aggressively courting more stars to their platform.

A fan token platform out of Europe called Socios has partnered with some of the biggest soccer clubs in the world to issue team fan tokens. Their client list includes FC Barcelona, Manchester City, and another 30 top clubs. They have recently partnered with 24 NBA teams and the NFL’s Patriots. They have built this on top of the Chiliz ($CHZ) token, which has a $1.1Bn market cap. Teams are using the tokens to engage their most loyal fans in questions around what uniforms they wear, music in the arena, and a variety of other non-sport areas.

What could the future of team fan tokens look like? My venture group Beyond The Game is an early investor in the Fan Controlled Football (FCF) league. This is a new 7 on 7 arena football league, where fans vote in real time what play the offense runs. It’s like playing the Madden video game with real people. Wild stuff. In the first season, anyone could download the app and participate. For the upcoming second season, they have announced half of the teams will be controlled by NFT communities. While this isn’t fan tokens, it will work in a similar way. FCF hasn’t given all the details yet, but it sounds like NFT holders will have additional voting rights and control over the team’s actions.

Imagine if you held the fan tokens from your favorite NFL team and got to vote on the plays for Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. Or if your NBA fan tokens let you have a say in offensive tactics or substitutions. Does that sound too farfetched? Maybe, but this is the direction the sports market is going. The same idea could apply to popular reality TV shows. Why just vote for your favorite pairing on Dancing with the Stars? In the future, you might be able to buy the fan token and vote on what they wear or their choice of song or dance style. Did you hate the ending of Game of Thrones? Maybe a series in the coming years will let their fan token holders vote who wins the shows biggest plotlines.

Much like NFTs and DAOs, fan tokens will be used to create a new type of experience and big new revenue sources for stars and IP holders. These will disrupt large existing industries and create new winners and losers in the entertainment industry. Keep an eye on this developing technology.

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Writing about Crypto and web3 for business executives

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Brian Zwerner

Brian Zwerner

Writing about Crypto and web3 for business executives

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