Michael Jordan has discovered NFTs. Michael Jordan and his son, Jeffrey Jordan, recently announced the launch of their new venture, Heir Inc. – which plans to be a “community platform for athletes to connect with fans.” The platform aims to take the creator economy to the next level, and will also include other business lines, including a planned entertainment studio and consumer products. Joined by marketing executive Daniel George and Jeron Smith, who has ties to the All-time 3-point scoring record holder Steph Curry – Heir’s leadership looks to be solid as they venture into the crypto world.
Michael Jordan’s foray into NFTs is just one of many increasing signs that NFTs have a very interesting and promising future. More than just the digital art pieces which are popularizing NFT sales today, NFT technologies allow for multiple dynamic use-cases, many of which appear to be on Heir’s roadmap as they roll out their platform.
Heir Looks to Capitalize on the Promise of NFTs
Today, NFTs are most well known for the digital art pieces or avatars which get shilled by the minute on Twitter. With Cryptopunks and Beeple’s art works selling for hundreds of thousands (or millions) of USD, it seems that everyone is suddenly a “creator.” The number of NFTs available for purchase continue to climb daily, with no end in sight. In fact, the numbers speak for themselves. At the end of 2020, the NFT industry was a sub-billion USD space. In just 12, short months, the category has exploded – with sales this year crossing the $22 billion USD mark. With a growth of more than 22,000% - the NFT space was the hottest industry of 2021.
But while the majority of people these days associate NFTs with Bored Apes or interesting art pieces (HUMAN ONE – anyone?), these digital assets can become, and will become, so much more than what they have so far been made famous for.
In particular, NFTs will be an integral part in taking the creator economy into the next phase of growth. Last reported at more than 50 million creators strong, NFTs provide the tools for creators to take their business to the next stage of growth.
For entertainers and professional athletes, NFTs enable a next-level fandom for users to participate in. Most fans today are only able to follow their favorite players through Twitter, Instagram, or other social media platforms – however, NFTs will allow the most devoted of fans to hold digital assets which not only represent their fandom, but also reward them for it.
In the case of Heir, the Company looks to be releasing “behind-the-scenes” content, as well as Q&A sessions with the athletes who join their platform.
More than just signing up via a link today, this content and this access will be controlled and governed by an issued NFT. Thereby ensuring that only the most interested of fans will have access, and that the experience will not be diluted by having millions of people also flooding the experience.
The Start of a New Trend – How Heir and its Creator NFTs will be Leveraged in the Creator Economy
As the creator economy continues to evolve, it is clear that NFTs will become this generation’s loyalty rewards program. Effectively aiming to be the equivalent of a Starbucks rewards card today, NFTs will allow creators to establish various promotions and rewards for its holders.
As can be seen with Heir, NFTs are being used to “gate” content and access – something that will become increasingly mainstream as NFT adoption continues and its issuers become savvier with how to leverage the digital asset.
In today’s world, Tweets, Instagram posts, and YouTube video uploads by celebrities and athletes are available to view for free by anyone with an internet connection. In the future, such content access will be limited – made possible by gating access via NFTs.
Sure, select content will continue to be made available for free on such Web2 (and soon, Web3) platforms (this will likely always be necessary, to tease and attract new fans and subscribers), but eventually, a paywall will arise in the form of an NFT.
Imagine in the future that Michael Jordan sells 10,000 Jordan NFTs. Holders of these NFTs receive exclusive content and access that has never been made available before. Perhaps these token holders will receive first access to the next iteration of Air Jordan sneakers. Or MJ Q&A sessions with NFT holders spanning a gamut of topics – from his playing days as a Chicago Bull, to questions about how he wants to continue to develop his current Charlotte Hornets team.
For a lucky group of NFT holders, perhaps once per year they can even get an opportunity to fly out and meet his Airness for a one-hour lunch.
The only limit to how to engage NFTs in the evolving creator economy is the creator’s imagination.
Naysayers will argue that all of this can be done in today’s world – via other social media platforms and channels, and that the creator economy is doing fine without NFTs. While there is an element of truth to that, the infrastructure that NFTs provides makes doing this so much easier than trying to arrange something similar utilizing today’s methods. Quite simply, NFTs enable every creator to issue their own “Starbucks card” equivalent, to begin rewarding fans in their own unique ways.
Heir and Creator NFTs – Things to Watch in the Following Months
The inflow of fans from social media platforms today to NFTs will be a gradual one. Besides understanding what NFTs are, fans will need to learn the basics of blockchain and cryptocurrencies – which involves downloading and setting up their own crypto wallets. This, while not an overwhelming barrier – is also not yet as easy as signing up for a new email address. Therefore, it will take some time.
However, make no mistake – the creator economy shift to creator issued NFTs is a likely one.
Companies like Heir will soon be appearing with increasing regularity, as companies look to supply the infrastructure which makes issuing and utilizing NFTs easier for its participants.
Creators, realizing that there is an untapped revenue stream here – will begin reviewing their libraries of content to see how they can begin monetizing them using the infrastructure which NFTs provide. From archived footage to masterclass-oriented sessions, the creator economy and the sporting world are about to see an evolution in social media and how the public interacts with its favorite stars.
Michael Jordan has not yet announced that he will be directly launching anything on Heir – only time will tell. However, given the promises of NFTs, it will be very surprising to not eventually see Jordan, or his Charlotte Hornets, release NFTs in an effort to take advantage of all that this new digital asset has to offer.