Web3 folks are tokenizing themselves on the blockchain. These tokens, minted with the name of the individual who created them, are being pitched as stakes in their tokenizers’ brands or “digital communities”.

When they do not promise a dividend from the tokenizer’s salary, these tokens can be redeemed not for a share in their life; instead for services like talking to the tokenizer, accessing their content, or renting out their professional time.

It’s more of a social currency but only to engage with them. The practise stemmed from the idea that artists or specifically famous people with some sort of air around that that that might be up to something exciting and would do well in life can let others bet on them and, by doing this, do raise not only everyone’s stake in the success but also create some financial runway to pursue projects that will bring about the positive indent in the price of their tokens.

Social tokens for creators and communities

Social tokens, sometimes also called fan tokens, are blockchain-based tokens launched by creators and issued to their fans. In the current early stage, most projects take slightly different approaches to how this works and what creators and fans can do with their tokens. Common themes are:

  • fans can use tokens to unlock unique content or experiences such as AMAs (solving micropayments in the process btw)
  • fans can use tokens to have a stake in the creator’s work, e.g. by getting to vote on new projects
  • fan tokens are used to create micro-economies around creators and communities

Besides these commonalities, some projects, like Rally, focus on the investment angle and tradeability. In contrast, like our company’s LT Fan Platform, others focus on creating a gamified fan experience and empowering communities.

Tokenization Platforms

Rally.io - Rally.io is a blockchain-based content platform for innovative brands and artists to interact with communities in novel ways. The Rally crypto ecosystem operates on the RLY Network, in conjunction with the native Rally token (RLY). Creators and communities can use the RLY token to purchase Rally Creator Coins to show support for their favourite brands. With a core focus on decentralization and a community-driven direction of growth, the Rally crypto content platform enables creators to form independent, self-governing digital economies surrounding their brands.

BitClout: BitClout is a social media platform where users can buy ‘creator coins’ or ‘tokens’ tied to specific local or international celebrities. As fans of these celebrities buy their tokens, their value rises in price and falls as people sell off tokens. As per the BitClout website, this project aims to allow everyone to monetize their online presence and become a valuable influencers on the internet. So, for instance, if there is a particular musician you like very much, you can support them by buying their coin or token. Eventually, as the price of the token multiplies, you can reap the rewards by selling off the tokens and making a decent profit.

Roll - Roll is a DeFi platform for social token issuance platform with over 40 creator coins trading on Uniswap and over 350 creator communities who minted ERC-20 creator and community coins. Social tokens represent participation and ownership in a particular community or DAO. The platform aims to be a full-stack issuance platform to mint social tokens and bootstrap communities. Branded digital tokens can be designed with attached benefits such as discounts, access to exclusive content and an upside in the value of the community. Social tokens allow creators to monetize their largest moats — their communities.

The Perils

  • Coin prices could swing wildly. Random whales are known to swoop in and drive up prices of obscure tokens. That could leave fans to shut out of their favourite artist’s token.
  • Or the price could abruptly collapse, which could leave fans angry or disappointed.
  • Social tokens may be uniquely vulnerable to the “rug pull” scam — look at the squid token that left “Squid Game” fans high and dry.
  • Social tokens might be seen as traded securities. Typically, the communities or creators don’t use them as legally-binding contracts and instead use tokens as gateways to exclusive content. Anything perceived as an investment contract without any other utility (e.g. a tokenized sports contract, a token-based fundraising mechanism for a company) would be out of the context of a community Roll would support and would be better suited for platforms like Fairmint and Republic that directly work with digital securities.

The Uncharted

What happens after the token creator dies? No one knows. Assuming crypto is as “unstoppable” as claimed, the tokens should still exist and be tradeable. Its possible death spells the end for a community or, as so often the case in the history of art, a new critical awareness of the artist’s work. For artists like Tupac and Juice WRLD, who still have a pretty big fan following even after their demise and music coming out regularly, will only add a financial film to the already existent and thriving twitter argument around the conspiracy theories peddled by specific sections of their fanbase. There is no moral argument that justifies this as of now, or even if there is one, we haven’t entirely made up our mind on that yet.

There’s no single answer to this question, in part because tools like social tokens allow for creating so many different types of communities. There will be as many tokens as ideas, and individuals are willing to strike out independently. That much is new, but the question of death is one for lawyers to work out.