Fort Worth Founders Launch Platform to Tie Concert Tickets to NFTs

Led by co-founders of Fort Worth's annual Fortress Festival, DeFy Tickets contracts with event organizers to offer smart concert tickets sold as NFTs. The blockchain-based tickets provide greater security, can prevent scalping, and enable "augmented experiences and engagement" between fans and artists, the co-founders say.

As the concert and live event industry looks to rebound from the pandemic, a newly launched company aims to make buying tickets more beneficial to all.

Led by the co-founders of Fortress Festival, the annual Fort Worth music event, DeFy Tickets has opened its blockchain-based platform, where tickets are sold as non-fungible tokens. The April 30th Cowtown Crawfish Fest and June performances by rap stars Gucci Mane and Lupe Fiasco will mark the first concerts to go live on the platform.

“Over some period of time, five to 10 years, there won’t be any reason anybody would not use NFT ticketing,” Alec Jhangiani, co-founder of DeFy and Fortress Presents, told Dallas Innovates.

‘A more efficient transfer of value’

Similar to other ticket purchasing platforms, using technology from The Netherlands-based GET Protocol Foundation, DeFy contracts with event organizers to offer smart tickets sold as NFTs. That ticket becomes tied to the individual purchaser, allowing more security and opportunities for fan engagement, Jhangiani said.

For ticket holders, the blockchain-based smart contract behind the ticket means they can be sure the ticket isn’t a fake. Jhangiani said having it tied to an NFT opens the door to augmented experiences and increased engagement between fan and artist. For example, he said the NFTs could be attached to things like a live recording of the performance or tokens issued by the artist, that can only be accessed by the ticket holder as an added memento to the memories of the concert.

Increases security and can prevent scalping

“The idea of the NFT is that you can embed or include other things with that ticket that wouldn’t necessarily come from a typical ticket,” Jhangiani said. “We see here the potential for an improved ecosystem, in terms of the relationship between artists, organizers, and fans, a more efficient transfer of value.”

For the artists and event organizers, Jhangiani said the main benefit of the platform is security and control of the secondary ticket market. Because the ticket is tied to the blockchain, any transfer of that ticket gets recorded, decreasing fraud. It also helps prevent scalping in the secondary market, since Jhangiani said artists and organizers can make it so tickets can’t be transferred for more than the original set price or can add extra fees for transfer.

“The artists and the organizers don’t benefit from that margin at all that scalpers make. What this is aimed at is to basically remove that from the whole process,” Jhangiani said. “Every time that there’s a resale of that ticket, the original selling artists benefit from that.”

Industry leaders helping launch DeFy

Fortress Presents, the company behind Fortress Festival and a co-owner of DeFy, oversees the strategy and operations for the new platform. Its co-founders—Jhangiani and Ramtin Nikzad—were initially brought on as advisors to the DeFy project. But they were later tapped to lead it, given their experience at Fortress Presents—which also operates outdoor music venue Wild Acre Live and creative agency Fortress Creative, the marketer for DeFy. The two have also helped set up the Lone Star Film Festival.

The DeFy team includes other industry veterans who are helping guide and grow its operations. Leading ticket operations is Leif Osbakken, former senior account manager at Eventbrite and senior festival success specialist at Ticketfly. Helping with growth strategy is Zach Pharr, who also worked at Eventbrite and was a director of business development for Front Gate Tickets. In addition, Evan McLaughlin, co-founder of mobile betting app Wayger, has joined the DeFy team as co-founder and chief technology officer.

NFT market cap expected to hit $80 billion by 2025

With investment firm Jefferies expecting the NFT market cap to grow from $35 billion in 2022 to more than $80 billion by 2025, DeFy sees a number of opportunities for its ticketing marketplace to grow. In addition to upcoming concert announcements, Jhangiani said he sees NFT ticketing being used for nearly anything that requires a reservation, including things like restaurant reservations, hotel bookings, and plane tickets.

“Our priority now is to introduce that there’s this very solid use case and the benefits of it, and to spread the word about how many different applications that could have,” Jhangiani said.

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