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Picture this: you walk beneath a lighted marquee into a vibe-heavy room and blend into a building crowd. Drink in hand, you and your friends exchange stories of the performer’s previous shows and who was first to discover them. The house music seeds the subtle rise in energy as the stage techs ensure the musical mise-en-scene is set. As the lights fade, all of the individuals in the room become one entity caught in the small beat between the darkness and the explosion of the first chord. This is live music.

Throughout the pandemic, many have tried to harness this experience with live streamed events, and while some have been successful, most would say the code has yet to be cracked on delivering a compelling remote music experience. Web3 is a collective capability rooted in blockchain technology and decentralization that is often linked to VR, AR, NFTs, Tokens, Cryptocurrency, DAOs and the Metaverse. It has held space for its future partnership with live music, but a majority of its current experiments have been rooted in bringing music to existing digital experiences. Epic Games brought Travis Scott and Ariana Grande into Fortnite, while Roblox created in-game events with Twenty One Pilots and Lil Nas X. Whether success is measured in digital merchandise sales or the number of live event players, it would seem that these early experiments made an impact. But what will it take to transform these virtual experiences into Web3 experiences?

One strategy harnesses the visceral connection music fans have to a physical concert event. What if these new experiences looked to meet music fans at this powerful intersection? What if the strategy was to extend the physical world into the Metaverse, rather than convincing the current audience to adopt an entirely new format? What if certain components of the existing format helped to inform the future format?

To that end, Autograph, a Web3 brand co-founded by Tom Brady, today announced a partnership with AEG Presents, a leader in live entertainment and events. The multi-year alliance will officially kick off on March 25 at BUKU Music + Art Project in New Orleans (pictured). BUKU continues its successful run with this year’s line-up featuring Alison Wonderland, Porter Robinson, Tame Impala and others.

The Autograph live experience at BUKU will include a graffiti artist auction featuring eight artists’ works as NFTs, as well as offering the attendees the ability to mint their own NFT festival posters onsite. The poster NFTs will be linked to ongoing utility through the 2023 festival. After BUKU, Autograph will focus on similar activations for AEG Presents properties like Electric Forest, Hangout Music Festival, and Firefly.

“Festival culture creates an opportunity to build and curate communities at scale using Web3,” said Dillon Rosenblatt, CEO of Autograph. “Our goal is to create an experience that lives digitally and physically to enhance the festival attendees’ overall experience. We are thrilled to kick-off our partnership with AEG Presents through an interactive experience at BUKU defined by celebrating the connection between art and technology.”

AEG Presents is an established fixture in the music and entertainment industries known for its tent-pole events like Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. “This partnership offers our festival-goers a new, innovative format to commemorate their experiences and create custom NFT collections,” added Andrew Klein, managing director, AEG Global Partnerships. “There is such excitement about BUKU’s return. Autograph will help amplify that special feeling of the festival to a broader community and drive a deeper engagement with the audience.”

Venues and festivals are vehicles for connection between artist and fan, and, paired with Web3, are poised for experimentation and innovation in the realm of music experiences. The most exciting aspect of Web3 is that it is being built collectively in real time, and live music will surely be an epicenter of activity.

Bridges are key constructs within Web3, whether they connect different protocols or blockchains for interoperability or they offer a link between the physical (IRL) and digital (URL) worlds. The concept of the Metaverse is complex, but if you break it down to relatable elements, it can appear more accessible. Using bridges to connect a known and familiar reality to an extended and amplified version could bring more users into virtual concert experiences.

One bridge could be a blockchain-based commerce engine like an NFT marketplace to power these interconnected experiences that deliver participatory access for music fans and provide domain transportability of unique digital assets through multiple instances of the Metaverse. What if we met music fans at established venues and festivals and provided a bridge to extended instances of that physical experience?  Things would get really interesting…

Jeremy Gilbertson is a metaverse methodologist and Web3 strategist.