About Alec Shankman
Alec Shankman is a Co-Managing Partner at A3 Artists Agency, a literary and talent agency fostering influencers, filmmakers, and performers’ careers. He has been part of the A3 Artists Agency for the majority of the last 20 years.
In 2003, Alec started the unscripted department, which focused on the digital media space, such as MySpace, which was emerging at the time.
Alec shares, “Ever since, it’s really been a big part of our DNA in this group to try to identify new spaces that feel like there’s some solid momentum and enough energy that it’s going to sustain and so on. It’s moved us into fun spaces like podcasting, gaming, and certainly the NFT and metaverse ecosystem.”
The NFT Task Force at A3 Artists Agency
In March 2021, the A3 Artists Agency team was monitoring the NFT and blockchain world and if it would last and lead to something bigger.
“Within a couple of months of monitoring it, we realized in some way, shape, or form this was going to be here to stay, and it was important for us as a top-tier talent agency to be able to recommend and advise the right approaches to our clients in this ecosystem, and there was no better way to do that than to just roll up our own sleeves and form a committee or task force.”
The A3 Artists Agency team started advising their clients on the basics of what was happening in the crypto world, different platforms, and market strategies. They also helped interested clients secure accounts and profiles at the time and get started with NFTs.
“In the metaverse ecosystem, things will evolve at a million miles a second. Things changed, and the world where you could create a really cool piece of digital art and sell it as a one-on-one or a one of 10 on one of these platforms for a substantial amount of money, and [have] those assets maintain value, that’s gone.”
Alec Shankman shares that we are currently in NFT stage 3.0 or 4.0, where the metaverse is being explored, and creating assets that are not just cash grabs but valuable community assets is king.
“It’s going to be laying foundation blocks for something that frankly may still be months or years away from really, truly figuring itself out… The advice and guidance [we give clients] has changed, and the type of clients that we have interested in the space has changed. There have been people that have gotten into it and frankly quickly gotten back out of it.”
Some of A3 Artists Agency’s clients are taking a wait-and-see approach and seeing how the metaverse and NFT world work for others. Alec notes that nobody knows where the metaverse is going, but their NFT task force will continue to stay ahead of the curve by curating the right knowledge and being ready to strike with their clients when it comes.
“For the NFT and metaverse side of things at the agency, we want to make sure we understand it as best we can. We want to be sure we’re advising our clients as best we can. We don’t know the exact perfect answer. We don’t know where this is going to be in three months or three years, but as long as long as we have all of the information that’s currently available in the marketplace, we can share with our clients accordingly.”
Client Experiences with the Metaverse
Some A3 Artists Agency clients are already experimenting with the metaverse by taking equity in metaverse businesses and building up their credibility. Other clients are creating digital experiences based on their real-life art.
Alec Shankman shares that creators may be able to turn their passions into a sustainable business with NFTs in the future. However, the answer to how creators can do that is constantly changing.
He explains, “Each client has a different goal. Each client has a different level of time or resources available to invest, and each client has a different perspective on what Web 3.0 and the metaverse mean to them. So, we’re really creating bespoke advice and, in a lot of cases, frankly doing due diligence.”
Unfortunately, some creators and investors outside of the A3 Artists Agency roster have spent millions of dollars buying real estate within the metaverse ecosystem without real ROI to show for it.
As a result, Alec approaches the metaverse cautiously with his clients, with as much information as possible, especially until the metaverse ecosystem is more established.
“We’ve made clients money [through the metaverse]. We’ve helped them maneuver some complicated and exciting circumstances, but I genuinely think to ultimately answer your question that the sustainable revenue and sustainable business models are not there yet.”
The Pros of NFTs
So, why would creators be attracted to NFTs if the sustainability of this business venture is not there yet?
Alec Shankman shares, “It gives you the ability to create your own art, in certain cases with minimal cost, and in traditional entertainment, traditional Hollywood, there can often be a lot of costs and third parties that are involved in the creation of art.”
NFTs allows creators to connect directly with their community and consumer without the need for many third parties. Creators also have the ability to a lifelong proof of authorship through how assets are minted in blockchain, protecting their work, and giving creators the option for lifelong royalties.
Alec provides examples of traditional art sales and designs, such as Levi Strauss jeans.
Initially, The designer may have sold Levi Strauss jeans for only a couple of pennies or dollars, but today they are resold for much larger amounts of money. However, this money doesn’t go back to the designer but to the most recent owner.
In the metaverse, the ability to build a royalty into the asset allows the creator to continue receiving money for their artwork, even if it’s resold.
“It does feel like this technology is here to stay. It does feel like this technology has the ability to shift the future of Hollywood of the collectible ecosystem, of the way that assets are collected and sold, but it does feel super early.”
In the future, Alec Shankman predicts that all generations will start to understand the metaverse as technology becomes more refined and education is more readily available.
He expects this technology will eventually be a part of everyday life.
“The concept of augmented reality and virtual reality have been around a long time, and no one’s quite figured out the right way to create a full mass adoption of that space. I think NFTs and the metaverse are probably going to be a trigger that helps make that happen.”