Culture3 had boots on the ground to capture NFT.NYC and witness how the world's biggest NFT conference was holding up in the bear market.
Bringing together over 15,000 NFT collectors, artists, developers, and creatives, NFT.NYC kicked off to huge excitement last month. The inaugural conference began on June 20th, spanning five venues and featuring hundreds of speakers and thousands of satellite events across the city.
While it’s impossible to catch everything, we’ve tried our best to capture the top stories, news, and presentations from across the week. Fashion, gaming, and film had a particularly strong conference.
Kicking off the digital fashion track on a high note, we visited the Edison Ballroom to hear from an influential panel of digital fashion experts in every relevant field. Fashion was covered by Marco Marchesi, CTO of The Fabricant, and Natalie Johnson, Founder of Nueno, both digital fashion houses. Consultancy executives Nico Fara, founder of Chief Metaverse Officer, and Jessica Greenwalt, Creative Director at VaynerNFT, covered the metaverse. Ashli Weiss, founder of Weiss Law, brought the legal perspective, whilst Nelly Mensah, VP of Digital Innovation at LVMH, explained how the biggest fashion brands in the space are thinking about web3.
Use NFTs to enhance your existing brand and product, but don’t try to be something you’re not. People love Coach because they make quality bags and shoes, not because they build immersive tech products. Fashion NFTs like digital twins and exclusive collectibles can be used to reward your superfans with limited edition products, exclusive shopping events, or creative direction in future design processes. These are the experiences that many ‘web2’ customers really want.
Many brands missed the boat on social media and ecommerce, and now feel compelled to jump headfirst into the next new thing. Before hastily launching a Web3 strategy, always consider the why. Why do you want to create a metaverse store? Why do you want to launch a Discord? Why would your customer want this offering? Amidst the hype, it’s easy to forget the reason these technologies matter to fashion brands: to create value for customers.
Mensah encouraged Web2 brands to take what works for them in Web2 and apply it to Web3. In luxury fashion, the brightest minds in the industry are responsible for throwing fashion shows where every detail is considered. The LVMH executive explained that the same standards should apply to minting experiences and NFT rollouts.
Marchesi argued that the beauty of The Fabricant lies not in the garments that are created, but in the evolution of an ecosystem where people can co-create, trade, and make a living fromtheir creativity. In the traditional fashion industry, with major companies profit significantly from the creative work of designers. With their new Studio, The Fabricant's overarching mission is to disrupt the creative fashion economy and unlock new income streams for independent designers.
Next, we jumped over to Radio City Music Hall to catch Polygon Studios CEO Ryan Wyatt dive into the world of blockchain gaming. Polygon is one of the largest scaling protocols on Ethereum, whilst Polygon Studios is working to make it easy for developers to integrate web3 elements into their games.
To kick off his presentation, Ryan discussed his jump from web2 to web3. As the Head of Gaming at YouTube for eight years, Ryan noticed an undeniable shift in the industry. After years of spending billions of dollars on non-transferable in-game digital items, users are craving digital ownership. With the rise of blockchain gaming, users now receive genuine, verifiable ownership of their downloadable content, the ability to carry it across worlds, and resell it in secondary markets.
Building the technology and infrastructure needed to scale such demands is easier said than done. Complex tokenomics, janky onboarding processes, and the pressure of delivering timely roadmaps all play a large role in attracting and retaining a user's attention - and ultimately, the user experience in web3 is not a great one.
While still early in the journey, Wyatt recapped their top learnings so far. Making games is already difficult, but adding tokenomics makes it harder, not least because gamers have historically resisted structural change. High-quality game develop and unique products need to be brought to market to remove the sceptism around blockchain in gaming. Partly because of this, web3 game developers want to work with gaming industry veterans as well as crypto-natives; you need both to get far in this sector. That said, there are plenty of ways to get far. With a diverse range of technologies from internet protocols like supernetworks, to consensus mechanisms like proof of stake, to other blockchain innovations like zero-knowledge proofs and the Ethereum Virtual Machine, there are many ways to build and a wealth of new opportunities.
In the afternoon session, legendary filmmaker and She’s Gotta Have It director Spike Lee graced the stage to discuss how NFTs are changing the way films are made.
“Don’t bet the house.”
Spike Lee, filmmaker
Spike kicked off the conversation by acknowledging the importance of IP ownership within your creative work. With full ownership of his IP from She’s Gotta Have It, Lee shared his plans to release over 3,000 NFTs of the original 35mm film prints of the famous character, Mars Blackmon. To further illustrate his point on the importance of ownership, Spike referenced Quentin Tarantino’s planned NFT drop, using Pulp Fiction IP: Miramax have decided to sue, because they want some of the cut.
Historically, many filmmakers lacked access to the resources, equipment, or funding needed to bring their ideas to life. Now, through NFTs, filmmakers can receive the necessary funding to jumpstart their careers, and then bring their communities along for the ride. Spike announced that he would be re-investing the proceeds from his first NFT drop into funding short films by directors from underserved communities.
Throughout the presentation, Spike encouraged listeners to play the long game and not chase the money. He acknowledged that NFTs are still in their infancy and that many people are overextended financially.
“You can’t pick up the paper today and read about what’s happening in crypto,” he said. “Do your due diligence and don’t bet the house.”
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