An NFT Roadmap is the big picture plan for an NFT project or a NFT drop. The NFT Roadmap signals to the fan community what is being planned for the artist’s drop.
We had a chance to sit down with Stevie Hopkins, the founder and head-honcho over at Dropolis and the undisputed expert on merchandizing in the world of Web3, to do a deep dive into everything artists, producers, and performers can do to capitalize on NFT Roadmaps today.
Before roadmaps, NFTs were images and other media files attached to blockchain, with organic communities built around ownership. NFT roadmaps developed and became prominent as a way to supercharge a community and build trust and outline communicated objectives for a project, making the NFT more than a jpeg or music file and organic community around art/concept. Roadmaps helped pave the way for marketing and communicating what web3 and NFTs could be in the future with empowered communities and large-scale development and funding. It also serves as a way to onboard existing fans.
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As an owner of a music NFT, roadmaps matter because you can measure the growth and successes/setbacks of a project based on completion of objectives and they keep the fans engaged in a project. Without a roadmap, NFTs are just jpegs and micro-communities, which are an important part of the history of web3, but not enough for sustainability or mass adoption.
An amazing strategy, when executed properly, is to show subsequent steps with if/then logic. For example, if an artist’s project sells out, then XYZ happens. Or if discord hits X community members, then Y happens. While this can be extremely basic and is often overdone, if the THEN activity is substantial and is highly sought after by the fan community, then it can be extremely powerful.
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In the early days of web3, high value physical items were being gifted and while that is no longer as appealing and is often a sign of a cash grab or a project with the wrong intentions. Now I think there’s an opportunity to build subsequential stepped roadmaps that have built in “level ups” of major platform developments and real life activations and events. This is a sort of gamification within a roadmap to supercharge a community. This strategy isn’t great for all projects but works for some.
R&B Entertainer Chris Brown is providing fans who purchase his Breezyverse NFT with changes to win real world utility.
Popular Multi-media brand, Lyrical Lemonade, who specializes in music videos, live events, exclusive content and merch recently released their web3 arm, L3mon World Wide and dropped their initial NFT “The Carton”. Holders of “The Carton” have already received complimentary passes to the Lyrical Lemonade “Summer Smash” Festival and opportunities for their Carton to be featured at the end of popular music video releases like Justin Bieber’s “I feel funny”
The team behind Spirit Bomb has launched a web3 native record label for Decentralized Virtual Beings. Whether it’s music releases, virtual being assets such as PFP collectibles, 1/1 Editions, the Spirit Bomb Universe is ready to give fans new degrees of control in an NFT-driven ecosystem. They create virtual beings who create and release music, interact with fans, and tour the world IRL at unprecedented scale and efficiency.
I would then recommend that the artist have a simple roadmap with exclusive content, IRL access, and physical goods that they can easily execute with existing resources.
They should spend most of their time/resources on building a fan community in web3 and creating exclusive content for their community. Once they have access to more budget they can release a 2.0 roadmap to grow their community and increase the value of their tokens. I am very wary of any smaller projects that have large and sophisticated roadmaps. They almost never work out and there’s too much room for failure or perceived failure. Smaller projects should put 90% of their energy into community building and networking, and not a roadmap.
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For example, in the early days Bored Ape Yacht Club/Yuga Labs focused on community building and creating relationships that provide exclusive access. They nurtured their project into a highly sought after community. Smaller artists need to start with the basics and focus on community engagement and community building.
Artists often approach NFT drops as a one-time project to promote a single, an album or a tour, they don’t consider the long term opportunity for community building around a token drop, therefore, they do not plan a roadmap for the project.
They may not have the experience with web3 to understand that successful projects and long term value are driven by community engagement and future perks for token holders. What I think artists need to consider before launching a project and developing a Roadmap, is how they want to nurture and sustain the community of token holders.
Some of my favorite NFT projects started without a roadmap in an effort to not overpromise/underdeliver and instead focused on the fundamentals of community building and technological development. With this approach, you don’t promise anything, just show consistent results and value to the community. Then you can offer a roadmap later in life when you have a larger team.
First, before an NFT drop or a Roadmap are developed, an artist needs to make the commitment to developing a community and rewarding the community for staying engaged. If an artist is not committed to nurturing a community in web3, then the drop will be a cash grab and not offer long-term benefits.
Traditionally NFT communities are built on Twitter and in Discord and an artist needs to have someone on their team who is well versed in community development and engagement in order to build a successful drop and to deliver on a Roadmap.
An artist needs to explore their intention for getting into Web3, if it is just another income stream then they are doing it for the wrong reasons.
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Artists should embrace web3 with the intention to build a community and focus on creating unique rewards and experiences. Selling NFT’s to fans allows creators to unlock an entirely new way of interacting with fans in a way that has not previously been possible.
Imagine if you were an early fan of Billie Eilish long before she was selling out arenas. Collectors of her early NFT’s would be considered to be in a different tier of fandom. Early fans are more likely to promote your music to their friends or on their socials, buy merchandise, and buy concert tickets. NFT ownership builds a stronger personal connection that isn’t currently accessible.
Selling NFTs allows creators to focus on the 1,000 true fans theory and to focus on building a strong community of die-hard fans rather than just focusing on streaming numbers and charts.
I am not sure that anyone is “crushing it” yet when it comes to long term NFT roadmaps. There have been several artists who were able to generate a lot of revenue with drops during the height of the market, 3LAU and Doja Cat come to mind. However, I think there is lots of opportunity for artists to utilize community building and roadmaps to build long term, engaged, communities. I think that a few festivals have done a good job of creating drops with roadmaps, or utility, that will keep fans engaged.
Some platforms or projects that have been successful have been:
Led by DJ and Producer 3LAU (Justin Blau), The Royal provides utility to NFT holders in the form of shared royalties from Spotify/Apple Music streaming revenue. The Chainsmokers gave away 5,000 free NTfs to fans in their Discord Community. Collectively they gave away 1% of royalties from their newest album “So Far So Good”. Three lucky holders were awarded a VIP fan experience that includes a meet and greet and backstage passes to any show of their choice. I expect they will continue to provide perks to token holders in addition to the promise of royalties.
This one is released by Doja Cat, through the Oneof platform.
Her NFT drop welcomed Kittizen Founders to Planet Doja. Tokens had a variety of benefits including: special access to the OneOf Planet Doja Discord channel, exclusive rewards only for Kittizen Founders, and for one lucky owner, a coveted Golden Ticket in your OneOf Vault, unlocking a pair of concert tickets to Doja Cat's upcoming tour!
Purchase of multiple tickets would increase the odds of unlocking exclusive experiences and benefits. I am not sure how they have continued to add value to the tokens since the drop last year.
Daniel Allan is growing a fanbase and is seen as a “Web3 Native” artist.
He is constantly experimenting with different platforms and different ways to engage with his fans. He is currently minting his new EP “Glass House”
Festivals have also been offering NFTs to fans with multiple year benefits. In addition to Lyrical Lemonade, mentioned above, Coachella also launched NFT tokens to raise money for a non-for-profit and offer fans a chance to purchase lifetime access to tickets and experiences.
Superf3st is a new web3 festival from the founders of Bonnaroo and Outside Lands that allows holders to vote on festival location, lineup, etc. It will be interesting to see how their roadmap unfolds.
Most Music NFT Projects lack a roadmap and IRL utility, we are building Dropolis to address this issue and build a closer connection between artists and their fans.
Dropolis is designed to release NFTs with utility from day one through exclusive merchandise bundles or access to IRL experiences. These fan and creator communities will find a home in Dropolis that allows them to do what they were already doing without NFTs, but by adding the NFTs/web3 technology, so much more is possible to manage and build the collections around their favorite artists and communities!
Most NFT projects in the music space are selling the idea of something NEW, completely foreign to 99% of possible buyers and users and that has a very high learning curve and will slow down the adoption rate.
At Dropolis we are going to focus on a lower learning curve around web3 and NFTs and focus on bringing NFTs to them instead of the other way around.
Managing Editor at Magnetic Magazine – Former Marketing Manager at the Hyperbits Masterclass – Writer, Content Strategist, Music Producer, and Record Label Manager