Last week in collaboration with theCHIVE online community and its branding subsidiary Project Venkman, actor and comedian Bill Murray successfully launched the first drop of his Bill Murray 1000 NFT collection.
The Bill Murray 1000 collection consists of 1,000 NFTs comprising 100 unique stories containing anecdotes, observations, advice, memories, “Murray-isms”, and more. These real-life stories are wide ranging from how Hunter S. Thompson saved Murray’s life to the day Murray met President John F. Kennedy.
The digital artwork depicts a portrait of Bill Murray drawing on qualities that are photo-realistic yet surreal with matching acrylic-on-canvas physical pieces by artist David Grizzle. The team will auction the physical artwork and the Bill Murray NFT #000 next month. Additionally, they will donate the proceeds to multiple charities selected by Murray.
The collection activates Bill Murray fans by also offering specific utility such as in-person events with Bill Murray, rare coins minted for the collection, exclusive merchandise, and membership access to The Shack – a Discord community filled with other NFT holders.
Notably, the collection was the first issuance for Coinbase’s beleaguered NFT marketplace. The initial sale was for 82 of the 1,000 NFTs, fetching 1.5 ETH each (~$4,500) and totaling 121.5 ETH (~$180,000). Sale dates for the remaining assets are yet to be announced. Coinbase reported that they had over 500,000 visits to the Bill Murray NFT drop page over the course of the first week, and nearly 5,000 people had subscribed to the waitlist. Interestingly, over 60% of the purchases were made by wallets not holding any previous NFTs.
As discussed previously, the NFT markets have been soft alongside weakness in the broader crypto and equity landscapes. The performance of celebrity NFT drops has similarly been uninspired, with many projects failing to capture their audience and catalyze them to participate in the sale.
Singer Chris Brown recently launched his Breezyverse NFT collection, a series of 10,000 3D animated NFTs with sound and visual effects implemented on the Ethereum blockchain. Additionally, the project offered NFT holders exclusive utilities including VIP concert tickets, backstage passes, meet & greets with Brown, music video wardrobes, touring wardrobes, and video calls with Brown.
The Breezyverse project launched on June 30th at a public mint price of $420, and despite having 116 million Instagram followers, to date only 748 (7.5%) NFTs of the total collection have been minted. Whereas the project team had hoped to achieve ~$4 million in primary sales, they have only been able to raise ~$300,000.
WWE wrestler and actor John Cena called his own NFT project a “catastrophic failure”. Launched in August 2021 at a price point of $1,000, the NFT kit only sold 37 units of the 500 total supply. The NFT kit included the digital NFT, and physical items such as an autographed canvas picture, belt, hat, shirt, and wristbands.
Bill Murray – popular movie star, writer, and comedian
theCHIVE / Project Venkman – theCHIVE – an online community known for irreverent content and merchandise partnerships with celebrities such as Bill Murray, Chris Farley, Kevin Smith, SuperTroopers, and John Daly. Project Venkman is theCHIVE’s technology and brand subsidiary leading the Bill Murray NFT drop
Coinbase NFT – Coinbase’s NFT platform that launched in April 2022
“Storytelling animates our lives, our businesses, and now it animates our NFTs,” said John Resig, Co-Founder of Project Venkman, theCHIVE, and Atmosphere. “Collaborating with Bill Murray to put the first-ever biography on a blockchain was one of the great honors of my life. But to see this community, especially the younger generation, embracing Bill the way they have has been nothing short of incredible.”
“This first Coinbase NFT drop and theChive’s first members’ program exceeded all our expectations. In order for the web3 industry to move forward, we need to bring new communities on board,” said Gavin Gillas, CEO of Project Venkman.
“The most exciting part of this drop is to see that over 60% of the owners immediately joined the member chat on Discord. Most of the secondary trading stayed on Coinbase NFT, showing that adding drops helped drive secondary trading volume and adoption.”
Up until the launch of its inaugural primary drop, Coinbase’s NFT platform had been floundering, seeing all-time trading volume of just $3.4 million from 9,700 total users. Conversely, over the same time period, leading NFT marketplace OpenSea had done $6.2 billion in trading volume amongst 836,000 users.
Outlook and Implications
Despite failures suffered by many early celebrity NFT projects, the Bill Murray collection, amongst several other successful drops, hint at what a possible playbook might be for celebrities to leverage Web3.
Prerequisites include a compelling public figure with a broad, engaged, and largely digital audience in addition to a combination of tangible benefits such as physical items or experiences (live or virtual). They also must fully commit to building out their Twitter and Discord communities, continuously engaging and growing their communities on Web3-native social platforms.
For instance, EDM artist Steve Aoki and rapper Snoop Dogg found early success through their NFT drops. In partnership with the Sandbox, Snoop Dogg sold out all 10,000 units of his NFT avatar collection “The Doggies”. Doggies represent avatars playable within the Sandbox metaverse. Similarly, Steve Aoki’s A0K1VERSE passport collection provides a blend of real world and metaverse features and utilities. These benefits include pre-sale access to future Aoki NFT drops, metaverse performances and free tickets to Aoki’s shows, and access to exclusive merchandise.
Successfully meeting these criteria could also help the assets maintain their value long after the initial drop. The Bill Murray collection has a floor price of 14 ETH ($21,000), a +900% increase from its sale price of 1.5 ETH. Floor prices represent the cost it would take to acquire the cheapest asset for sale in the collection.
Finally, it is likely that the Bill Murray collection benefited from its drop on Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in the U.S., which had more than 9 million transacting users as of Q1 2022. The choice of venue likely impacted the broad number of first time NFT buyers that participated in the drop.
This phenomenon, known as the ‘Coinbase bump’ is well-known in the crypto industry. It occurs when new tokens surge in the immediate hours after getting listed on the exchange. In fact, the SEC just charged a former Coinbase product manager with insider trading, alleging that he and two accomplices front-ran tokens that were about to get listed by Coinbase to earn profits in excess of $1 million. However, the long-term track record is uneven as most assets eventually settle into a price equilibrium. It remains to be seen what will happen here.
Users seeking to participate in a drop would do well to track activity and engagement on social platforms, as it is the most direct indicator of whether a project will be successful or not. The top two social platforms NFT projects leverage to grow their communities and facilitate discussion are Twitter and Discord. Trading volumes could also be a good factor to consider, as projects with deeper liquidity suggest healthier trading markets than more illiquid assets.
Finally, it will be important to track how the ‘Coinbase bump’ applies to NFTs. There may be times when it is prudent to buy an asset right at launch, but if you are looking to hold long-term it would be worth waiting until the initial hype around a project settles down before purchasing.
Editor’s Note: Nothing in this report should be considered financial advice.