Heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold have long been Web3 enthusiasts, launching their own line of Deathbats NFTs and building out token-gated ticket sales with Ticketmaster.

Now, in what the band’s calling the “culmination” of its Web3 efforts, it’s launched Season Pass, a decentralized fan rewards platform that lets Avenged Sevenfold followers collect rewards for participating in activities linked to the band. It's like the battle pass in popular video game Fortnite, but focused on the band.

Frontman Matt Sanders (aka M. Shadows) told Decrypt that by slowly introducing fans to the benefits of Web3, “they become evangelists for it, because they then go to other concerts or other communities of artists that they enjoy.”

“They can compare, ‘Which fandom do I enjoy participating in?’ if you show them all the positive aspects,” he said, adding that they can balance those against Web3 challenges like crypto wallet security. “If you take all the good and the bad, and you kind of weigh them together, you just play the long game and let them be the ones that explain it to other people,” he added.

Season Pass. Image: Avenged Sevenfold

Built on Ethereum scaling network Polygon, Season Pass rewards fans for redeeming digital stubs for concert tickets, streaming the band’s music, and buying NFC-chipped merchandise. Those points unlock tiered rewards, which can range from digital collectibles to merch discounts and previously unreleased demo tracks. For the band’s most dedicated fans, the top tier of rewards includes free concert tickets and meet-and-greets.

Season Pass. Image: Avenged Sevenfold

Because they’re distributed on a decentralized platform, fans have true ownership of those rewards and can trade them on third-party marketplaces. Avenged Sevenfold had the advantage of working with an already established fanbase, Sanders said.

“We had 20 years of goodwill with them, and they knew we weren't doing something funky to ruin our reputation with them,” he said, adding that the band “parlayed that goodwill we had with them and brought them into something that we think is even cooler.”

A lot of bands have been “sitting on the sidelines” waiting to see how Avenged Sevenfold’s Web3 gamble plays out, Sanders said. Two years on from the launch of its Deathbats Club NFT collection, and with the band playing the second leg of their LIBAD tour, the benefits are starting to become apparent, in what he calls the “true come to Jesus moment.”


Now, he said, “the fans are going to speak and artists are going to have to listen.”

Sanders expects Web3 adoption in the music industry to be driven by established bands like Avenged Sevenfold, in parallel with emerging artists whose fans have grown up with crypto. “The fact that we’re in our 40s and we’re trying to do this almost breaks the Matrix,” he said, adding that, “The way this should normally happen is these young kids coming up create a completely different music industry—the music industry that we’re trying to create 25 years into our career.”

Where Avenged Sevenfold has had to invest a lot of time and effort into educating their fanbase about Web3, he said, the next generation of musicians and fans will have grown up with the technology. “It’s going to be harder for us to convert our audience into this than it will be for the kid coming up that’s going to build his audience through this, in a way that’s very Web3-native,” he said.

For the time being, Sanders said, negative press around NFTs and Web3 has made some artists cautious about adopting the technology. “You just have to use it and man up and go through it,” he said. “If not, then you’re a slave to your fans, and I don’t think that’s a healthy relationship.”

He added that Avenged Sevenfold is “kind of an anomaly,” given that at this stage of their career, the band is “willing to shake the tree, and kind of ruffle our fanbase’s feathers.”

“We could literally ride off into the sunset, keep writing the same sort of records and just play arenas for the rest of our days, and call it a day,” Sanders said. Instead, he added, the band wants to prove that Web3 has real utility for musicians and fans.

“We want to lead by example," he said, "that you can create a better internet, you can create a better future for artists.”

Edited by Andrew Hayward


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