Times are getting tough in the metaverse. While ripples from the FTX debacle continue to affect even the farthest reaches of the blockchain, the price of ETH — the NFT space’s most prominent crypto — is skirting dangerously close to a sub-$1,000 range. This is in stark contrast to ETH’s all-time high of nearly $4,900 recorded only one year prior in November 2021.
Yet despite the market downturn, creators still find love, support, and even sustainability in the Web3 space. In fact, some, like the Italian Singer-Songwriter Violetta Zironi, are just now experiencing the first fruits of their labor in the NFT space, while others, like the Poet, Artist, and AI-Researcher Sasha Stiles, continue to spearhead innovation, receiving recognition for their excellence by art exhibitions and auction houses.
While the prospect of cashing out ETH for fiat is becoming less and less exciting, events throughout the fall have only served to reinforce the fact that NFTs are about much more than money or art. It’s important to keep an open mind and a broader view of Web3, especially when something unconscionable goes wrong. But artist prosperity is just one reason why there’s still so much to be thankful for when it comes to the niche internet subculture we call the NFT space.
Finding gratitude in Web3
In the early days of 2021, tuning in to Twitter Spaces was an effective way to witness the level of respect and caring among those in the NFT community. And honestly, not much has changed about this ethos in 2022. While heated exchanges happen — especially in the wake of a disastrous project launch, allegations coming to light, or, of course, entire crypto exchanges going under — generally, NFT folks want to look out for each other.
Super unfortunate stuff brother. He promised you a Bored Ape, a Cool Cat and .5 ETH huh? Saw you followed me so figured I’d make it right & restore balance in your wallet myself. Just transferred everything he promised to you. Keep them safe pls, the package ran me 6 ETH. Enjoy❤️ pic.twitter.com/ScGdvRMfBB— FaZe Banks (@Banks) July 14, 2021
Often, influential names step in to aid scam victims, and conversations surrounding mental health are practically staples of town halls. But there are also many benevolent forces at work in Web3 that should not go unrecognized.
Philanthropy via NFTs is possibly one of the most robust use cases for the good that can come out of blockchain technology. It’s quite possibly the one sector of the NFT space that can yield an immediate impact for those in need. There are plenty of advantages when it comes to using NFTs as a fundraising tool, including the way donors are incentivized to give to Web3 fundraising efforts with returns on the horizon.
Through general crypto crowdfunding efforts, or via NFT sales to raise money and awareness, anonymous individuals can give out of the goodness of their hearts, receiving a token of gratitude in the process. Usually, this reward comes in the form of an NFT, and even possibly membership to an exclusive club alongside that NFT.
Plenty of use cases signify growing benefits for NFT-based philanthropy across a broad spectrum, including healthcare, war relief, reproductive rights, prison reform, and more. NFT fundraising efforts aiming to make the world a better place are definitely the signal, and not the noise, of Web3 activity.
From the earliest days of the NFT space, NFTs have remained a crucial way for artists to make money. All other use cases aside, the fact that NFTs enable artists to make sufficient profits for living expenses continues to be a major selling point.
Especially in the case of digital art, NFTs have helped artists, who have anecdotally been undervalued in the traditional art world, to prosper through digital ownership. And, of course, digital ownership in and of itself is a major plus in a digital age where anyone who wills it can right-click and save a piece of digital art.
Similarly, in the vein of profitability and provenance, creator royalties are a huge source of comfort to many. When independent creators receive passive income from their NFTs, it becomes more feasible to sustain themselves than living simple sale to sale. Take XCOPY, for example. The artist, who originally sold pieces for a few hundred dollars each, now has a suite of works worth millions. But before he saw seven figures from his primary sales, collectors trading his pieces peer-to-peer helped his catalog accrue value.
The royalties he received through these secondary sales helped to sustain his career as he continued to create new art. But regardless of the many-sided creator royalties debate, it’s hard to gloss over the fact that artists are the center of the NFT ecosystem, and undoubtedly deserve more than a career characterized by a constant need to make ends meet.
Anyone with a smartphone and a social media account is sure to be well-educated on the topic of fandom. (If not, take a second to read about it here.) Today, many fandoms are full-blown subcultures, with their own way of speaking, dressing, and acting. Yet, while social media helped completely revolutionize fandom and human connectivity, after nearly two decades of stagnancy, the concept of fandom is evolving in Web3.
Specifically, fandoms are manifesting by way of NFTs, bringing new depths to the two-way figure of art and tech fandoms. A lot of people think popular NFTs only have merit because they can make you rich, but this isn’t really the case. While there’s much to be said about the earning potential of NFTs that brings consumers into the space, the community aspect of the non-fungible ecosystem is what provides this aforementioned greater meaning to the blockchain-based microcosm.
In Web3, conventional communication channels have substantially widened. Perfectly exemplified by the music NFT sector, musicians are incentivized to do more than simply drop music and wait for fan feedback. On the blockchain, they can derive real-world value from their fans by selling ownership of their music and reaping the benefits alongside their community.
And in this new media environment, devotees (fandoms) can do more than simply gossip about the greatness and current happenings of an artist with the vain hope of one day getting noticed by their idols. Instead, they have the opportunity to engage directly with their favorite artist as a member of a community with more equal footing — as a partial owner of an artist’s IP.
Facing tough times head on
So, the 2022 holidays are going to be rough for the NFT space. That much is indisputable. In contrast to 2021’s Q4, the vast majority of collectors and traders are undoubtedly in the red, with gift-giving season now looming overhead. But hopefully, the NFT space can take pause, and reflect on why there’s still cause for celebration.
No one should promote toxic positivity, but we also shouldn’t glaze over monumental sales and flabbergasting events. The people who add to important conversations, support their peers, and actively build toward a more economical and accessible Web3 future are still here, and deserve celebration.
Sentiments like WAGMI might have to take a backseat for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean camaraderie in the NFT space is nonexistent. Quite the contrary, it means it’s up to those with the wherewithal to stick it out in Web3, and “zoom out” for the good of the collective. After years of progress, ups and downs included, a slow grind is still a grind.