Within Web3 communities, NFTs have been used as access passes for digital spaces and live events alike, serving up perks for holders. Now ticketing giant Ticketmaster may bring token-gating to a much larger audience with the launch of a feature that lets artists offer up special access to concert and event tickets for eligible NFT owners.
Ticketmaster announced today that the Ethereum NFT token-gating feature is live for artists, and it was developed in partnership with popular metal band Avenged Sevenfold, which has its own Deathbats Club NFT collection and tested the token-gating feature ahead of the full rollout.
In Avenged Sevenfold’s case, owners of the 10,000 Deathbats Club Ethereum NFTs were offered early access to buy tickets to the band’s upcoming New York City and Los Angeles arena shows in June. Frontman Matt Sanders—who goes by M. Shadows—said that about 1,000 total tickets were purchased between the two shows with the NFT-gating feature.
“It went incredible,” Sanders told Decrypt of the ticketing trial.
During the purchasing process, Sanders said, Ticketmaster will prompt users to connect a wallet to verify ownership of one of the eligible NFTs. After that, it’s effectively the same buying process as usual, but with less competition fighting for a small pool of tickets.
“It’s a normal process after that,” he said, “except without the 1,000-person queue and without the scalpers and the bots getting in there and taking everything right away.”
Since I am a @DeathbatsClub holder, I was able to get two tickets in Section 1 (LA, Kia Forum) for $250 which included a $25 service fee/ticket.
Those same two (2) tickets are now close to $755 total which includes $61 service fee/ticket.
I can’t speak for eveyone but for me… pic.twitter.com/BjtHcOVobQ
— EvryDayBetter (☀️,☀️)| bgonzo.eth/sol (@bgonzo00) March 26, 2023
Today, Avenged Sevenfold announced the first North American leg of its “Life is But a Dream…” tour, with another 13 shows in Chicago, Montreal, Minneapolis, and beyond. For all 13 shows, Deathbats Club NFT holders will have an exclusive presale that runs from now until Tuesday afternoon, with certain sections reserved in each venue for club members.
Ticketmaster developed the feature in partnership with the band and its Web3 team, Bitflips, which creates artist-centric NFT projects. Sanders told Decrypt that he first connected with David Marcus, Ticketmaster’s EVP of Global Music, at last year’s NFT LA conference, and that the discussion led to the creation of the token-gating feature.
“Linking to live shows creates a unique value, and we developed our token-gating capabilities based on how artists want to connect their community to their concerts,” Marcus told Decrypt.
He added that Ticketmaster has minted almost 15 million digital collectibles tied to events, including NFL games, via the Flow blockchain and Ethereum scaling network Polygon. The token-gating feature is now available to any artist with its own NFT collection or that has partnered with an NFT community, and the functionality can unlock other benefits for fans, as well.
“Avenged Sevenfold used the capability to offer first access to tickets, but there are a variety of ways it can be used by artists in the future from unlocking premier seats to special experiences like sitting in on soundcheck,” Marcus said. “It's really a blank slate for the artist to decide.”
Deathbats Club prices have shot up in recent weeks as Avenged Sevenfold began the ticketing trial and also held an alternate reality game (ARG) tied to its new album reveal that included an NFT mint.
According to data from NFTgo, the floor price—or price of the cheapest-listed NFT on a marketplace—more than doubled over the last month to an all-time high of 0.17 ETH ($300).
To Deathbats and beyond
Sanders is deeply immersed in Web3. Beyond launching the band’s own NFT collection in December 2021, he also owns high-value CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, among others.
He told Decrypt that he “still dabbles with being a degen,” but that the club was ultimately started with a vision to better connect fans to the group.
Beyond creating a tokenized community of like-minded fans, he envisioned NFTs being pivotal for reimagining fan engagement and loyalty rewards. But that was only going to work at scale, he said, if major, entrenched companies got involved too—firms like Spotify, which has been experimenting with token-gating features, and indeed Ticketmaster too.
“One thing I always told people is that we needed other players to get involved,” Sanders said. “But you're dealing with all these legacy companies with old code competing with new code, and things that want to break, and so you’ve kinda gotta take things slowly,” he said.
But even with 10,000 NFTs, Deathbats Club is a relatively small club for a band as popular as Avenged Sevenfold, which has sold over 8 million albums and plays arena-sized venues like Madison Square Garden and the Kia Forum. Also, not every die-hard fan is going to want to buy a $300-or-more digital membership pass.
Question for fans NOT in the @DeathbatsClub . If I can figure out a way to get the best concert tickets in the hands of REAL fans at the best prices, but it involves downloading a digital wallet (free of charge), would you be open to that?
— M. Shadows (@shadows_eth) March 23, 2023
That’s why the band will soon launch an NFT-based loyalty program on Polygon that will let fans plug in a wallet and claim a free ticket pass. That pass will let fans tap into certain NFT-gated presales and other potential benefits, but anyone (even scalpers) can grab the free “Tier 1” pass. It’s just a starting point, however.
Sanders said that the band will offer numerous ways for fans of the band to unlock additional NFTs that can be used to upgrade that pass for even more exclusive access and benefits.
“Shook” holders… your package is on the way. These NFC tags will be available on most @TheOfficialA7X merch moving forward. We will explain it all later… but for now, enjoy! Make sure you redeem your digital version of this jacket! @DeathbatsClub pic.twitter.com/jiRzEH6GBU
— M. Shadows (@shadows_eth) February 21, 2023
Avenged Sevenfold will tie claimable NFTs to merchandise, as seen in the tweet above, as well as CDs and vinyl releases, plus it will give out POAPs—akin to digital ticket stubs—at shows.
It also plans to airdrop passes to top listeners on Spotify, for example. The goal is to reward the band’s die-hard fans for what they’re already doing, rather than make them buy anything extra.
“I think it's a pretty cool thing that scanning those things actually means something,” Sanders said of tokenized merch and event POAPs. “That proves that you are very dedicated or involved in the band. And I think these are the people that we should be making sure get tickets.”
Sanders and the band have, however, faced resistance from some fans for experimenting with NFTs, and he knows not everyone will be keen on participating.
He said rather than argue with them—"I tried that, but there’s no winning,” he admitted—the band simply aims to show “by example” that the feature has tangible benefits worth grabbing a crypto wallet for.
“We’re trying to make it easy for them,” he said. “My whole thing is that the more wallets we can get to people, the more things we can do for free, and the more people will understand it.”