Sometimes new technologies open up possibilities in surprising places. The expansion of digital and virtual options in the past couple years has broadened the ways we can experience events: it’s become normal to meet virtually with people across the country, we can make appearances at gatherings by unprecedented means, and there are a variety of ways to enjoy a performance beyond being physically present there. Creators and their fans can interact and share in new ways, too, with connections between them more accessible than ever before. From this dynamic setting comes the Broadway Exchange, an NFT platform for live theater performers and fans to connect in new and mutually beneficial ways.
Innovation in Theater
MuseWorks founders Ron Guirguis and Tim Rich love theater—its artistic expression, the one-of-a-kind nature of live performance, the space for different stories to be told and played out. But they were seeing too many actors, writers and other theater professionals working side jobs and struggling to make ends meet—we all know the common stereotype of the starving artist, which is too often true. Ron, Tim, and their team thought that such a reality was a shame for talented people who put passion and hard work into what they did. They wanted to create a financial model to fund the arts in a modern and continuous way. And with new technologies emerging, they saw an opportunity.
Their idea was to build a platform for Broadway-related digital collectibles to be bought and traded using non-fungible tokens (NFTs)—with creators automatically getting a cut each time. When theater professionals took part in this NFT platform, they would be able to create digital assets based on their shows that they could continue to earn royalties from. The folks at MuseWorks were determined to make this platform happen, and they worked with us at Infused Innovations to solidify their plan and create this entirely new space.
Building an NFT Platform for Live Theater
In order to help bring life to a project like this, MuseWorks needed strategic guidance from our Innovation Lab that wound up manifesting in terms of people, process, and product:
- People: Our team helped MuseWorks identify and vet additional specialists that would be the right fit for the project. Bringing people with the appropriate skill sets together was a key part of the project’s foundation and success.
- Process: When they started out with their idea, they had no knowledge of the building blocks that would be necessary to create this ecosystem. We helped them gain a strong understanding of agile development and optimal cost management, guiding them on the best platforms to build on.
- Product: After about six months, MuseWorks had a custom and leading edge digital product with a strong cybersecurity posture throughout the entire ecosystem.
Expanding Theater Experience
What MuseWorks ultimately built with us is a flexible platform that has become a game-changer for a growing number of Broadway shows: they called it the Broadway Exchange. Non-fungible tokens, which are essentially digital certificates of authenticity recorded on a public blockchain, allow for new kinds of engagement that expand and enrich fans’ theater experience while supporting the industry’s creators. Since NFTs create a sort of digital scarcity, all kinds of theatrical moments and experiences can be bought and sold like other fan collectibles. These are some of the ways that theater lovers from all sides can explore new avenues of both financial gain and creative fulfillment:
For theater creators:
- Those who work in theater can share with fans in new ways, such as “minting” special moments and creating digital collectibles out of them for their fans to enjoy.
- Creators can monetize their creativity to earn continuing royalties as collectibles are resold.
- MuseWorks’ platform aggregates NFT purchase royalties for all workers involved: actors, writers, producers, costume designers, sound & lighting technicians…everyone who plays a part gets to share in the revenue. This is set up to happen automatically when transactions take place in the Broadway Exchange, so that creators get paid without having to worry about managing those transactions themselves.
- Fans can purchase and trade digital collectibles, showcasing their collections in personalized ways.
- Buying and selling theater NFTs gives them investment opportunities in shows they love.
- Participation gives them access to special content that digitally enhances theater shows, as well as backstage passes to exclusive content and experiences.
- The whole platform creates a place of membership and connection for the fan community, where they can engage with each other and their favorite actors & creators.
Creating, Sharing, and Experiencing Stories
As Tim Rich of MuseWorks says, we need art and we need stories—and not just those of the big, massive storytellers (think Disney), but those of creative writers and performers at every stage of the journey. The Broadway Exchange was designed to allow for a great variety of creative expression, supporting those who bring us these diverse gems. It’s “building tools to emancipate thought,” as Rich put it, and that’s something we love to see going live.