One of Hollywood’s pre-eminent talent agencies has been watching the blockchain marketplace for years, waiting for a sign of maturity. One of the earliest signals took feline form: specifically “CryptoKitties,” a game that allows players to buy, collect and breed virtual cats —- one of which fetched $170,000.
That’s a pittance compared to the record-breaking $69.3 million sale of Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” artwork that exists only as a digital file and was sold as a nonfungible token, the latest asset class to attract investors.
Intrigued by the growing interest in blockchain-powered NFTs UTA created a digital assets practice that it says will help clients capitalize on the burgeoning marketplace. The agency has assembled a team from across its various practices — fine arts, music, motion pictures, sports, comedy and digital talent — to advise clients on how to approach the new opportunity.
“We advise clients and their teams on how to navigate all aspects of this exciting and incredibly complex marketplace,” said UTA Chief Innovation Officer Brent Weinstein. “Sometimes that means advising clients on whether they should do an NFT drop and, if so, how to do it in the most successful way.”
NFT’s are a new way of digitally buying and selling art and other media, a newly booming business for crypto assets that has grown to more than $300 million, from about $40 million three years ago, according to Nonfungible.com, which monitors NFT sales. NFTs use blockchain technology to track a digital asset and verify its authenticity. What’s also appealing about this digital marketplace is that creators are able to participate in subsequent sales of their art, music, collectibles or videos.
UTA is planning more than a dozen drops over the next several months, including work from album-cover artist Roger Dean, famous for his 70s-era artwork for prog rock legends Yes, and Grammy-nominated performer Halsey, who just this week announced plans to sell her paintings through an NFT auction.
“When you sell an NFT, like any other collectible, the buyer has the right to resell it,” Weinstein said. “But the blockchain allows for smart contracts, which bake in rules dictating how the original artist can participate in secondary sales, and helps ensure those revenue streams flow back to the original artist seamlessly and perpetually.”
Digital exploration is nothing new at UTA, which in 2006 became the first Hollywood talent agency to launch a division dedicated to representing digital media stars, who now include TikTok star Charli d’Amelio, Rhett & Link of Good Mythical Morning and digital influencer Emma Chamberlain.
Five years later it was the first agency to build a social media advisory practice, which is now a cornerstone of its data and analytics division. The digital assets initiative draws on expertise gained through UTA’s fine arts practice, which was initiated by CEO Jeremy Zimmer, a noted collector whose contemporary art collection adorns the agency’s headquarters.