The festival went all-in with NFTs and this is what attendees experienced – Orange County Register

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While festival-goers waited in lines for the usual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival services such as food, merchandise, Ferris wheel rides, lockers and bathrooms, there was a new line for people to join: NFT redemptions.

While Coachella has become a pillar of where to catch the next big acts in music worldwide, it’s also embraced the latest tech trends such as augmented reality, gamification and NFTs.

NFT, which stands for a non-fungible token, a unique digital item that can be bought and sold and take many forms.

This year, the festival offered every paying attendee a free In Bloom NFT, a digital image of a flower that bloomed each Friday of the festival’s twin weekends. Six of those NFTs came with special benefits such as VIP upgrades, 2023 weekend passes, Goldenvoice concert tickets, and Ferris wheel rides.

Attendees who downloaded the NFT before or on-site at the festival were able to redeem their standard NFTs for a free T-shirt and a $5 food voucher. Over the course of Weekend 2, there was always a line at the FTX booth, Coachella’s partner in the NFT marketplace.

Alberto Estrada of Colorado said that the In Bloom NFT was his first time interacting with the digital token.

“They’re giving away some free stuff, so why not?” Estrada said. “I like free stuff.”

It was also the first NFT experience for Cosette La Shier of Glendora.

“The line to get this free stuff wasn’t long and we only waited like 15 minutes,” La Shier said. “I don’t think I would ever buy NFT, though, if it was just on its own.”

Sam Schoonover, who runs the festival’s emerging technology programs as Coachella’s Innovation Lead, said that getting people engaged for the first time with NFTs was the primary goal.

“We wanted to provide a variety of NFTs and offer ones to people where they felt like they didn’t have to commit,” Schoonover said.

The festival offered a handful of other NFTs that could be redeemed for tangible items in February that sold out shortly after going on sale. The Sights and Sounds Collection featured 10 photos that came with exclusive soundscapes from the polo fields and could be redeemed for a physical print. The collection was limited to 10,000 NFTs that sold for $60 each. The Desert Reflections Collection, which consisted of digital versions of 10 posters from across Coachella’s history created by the artist Emek could be redeemed for a physical photo book of the festival. The collection was limited to 1,000 NFTs and sold for $180.

The music collective 88rising also partnered with the festival to release several NFTs that guests could redeem for merchandise onsite. Some NFTs also granted access to future 88rising merchandise and early access to tickets for the Head In The Clouds L.A. festival later this year.

The most expensive NFTs were part of the Coachella Keys Collection. The collection included 10 individual NFTs with perks such as lifetime passes to Coachella for one weekend in April every year and varying amenities such as luxury camping and gourmet meals. Each sold in the six figures, with the total coming to $1,474,000.

Schoonover said that the festival plans to offer more NFTs in the future, but the Coachella Keys would stay limited.

“Coachella Key holders own a digital item that will continue to grant them an exclusive experience that nobody else will really get,” Schoonover said.

The festival also offered an NFT scavenger hunt similar to Coachella Coin, the interactive video game the festival offered through its smartphone app in 2019. Its embrace of gamification requires participant engagement that relies on getting people motivated. The easier the task is, the more users are likely to engage but the festival’s number of experiences can make choosing what to do tricky.

“The scavenger hunt was OK, but I really came to check out more of the music,” said Lisa Chen of Anaheim. “There isn’t enough time to do everything or see everything, so you have to be picky.”

Attendees, such as Hanna Li of San Clemente, said that she bought one of the 88rising NFTs for the merchandise and the perks but didn’t understand how the scavenger hunt worked.

Coachella also provided a physical space for NFT art to be experienced. Next to2 the NFT redemption tent was FTX Bloom, created by artist Zach Lieberman, which projected digital art on screens with various sounds made to enhance the experience with a communal component, something that Schoonover said is what’s foundational to building the future of NFTs which he said he is hopeful in seeing expand.

“We want to continue working with NFTs,” Schoonover said. “They’re great for the community, and everyone who has one feels inspired to grow NFTs because they’re a part of it.”

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