Every week seems to bring significant news about music festivals in Las Vegas. If it isn’t the new emo-rock fest When We Were Young meeting wild demand by adding multiple days to its October debut on the Strip, it’s the homegrown Life Is Beautiful festival selling a majority stake to Rolling Stone magazine parent corporation Penske Media.
But a recent lineup announcement for the newest festival set to land in Las Vegas made news for an entirely different reason. Organizers of the Afterparty NFT Art and Music Festival, scheduled for March 18-19 at Area15, are calling it a first-of-its-kind event. Notable names like The Chainsmokers, The Kid Laroi, Gryffin and other artists will perform, but the festival’s immersive digital art installations and unique connection to the NFT community will set it apart.
“We want to bring NFT art to the forefront and create a celebration it deserves,” says David Fields, co-founder and CEO of Afterparty. “We believe this is a massive new movement, and we’re at the beginning of it. The centerpiece of the festival is the NFT art program, presenting it in a way it really hasn’t been seen before, fully integrated into the experience.
“And second is the idea of the community’s access to the event, that [attendees] will need to be a holder of the NFT or be a guest of theirs to actually attend. That creates a unique experience by really making the community the foundation of who can access the festival.”
NFTs (nonfungible tokens) are unique, non-interchangeable units of data stored on a blockchain. Much of the current excitement around this new tech object is centered on selling digital art. For the festival, Afterparty has created an exclusive set of 1,500 NFTs known as the Utopian collection, which will be among the installations at the festival and will also provide digital admission to the two-day event.
Chris Racan, formerly of the Kaaboo music festival in San Diego, and Ryan Doherty, former Life Is Beautiful partner and leader of Las Vegas-based Corner Bar Management, are serving as production partners for the Afterparty festival.
“NFT art deserves to be seen and celebrated through an experience that is just as innovative as the NFT art itself,” Doherty said in a statement. “We’re creating a festival that captures that energy and enthusiasm that fits into a future-ready environment that intensifies the impact these pieces have on the viewer.”
Afterparty was founded last year and has attracted an investor group that includes Acrew Capital, TenOneTen Ventures, Reade Seiff and Craig Clemens. The company is based in LA.
Fields, a former Disney analyst who helped execute the company’s acquisition of Pixar and later headed investments for former CEO Michael Eisner, says he decided he wanted to continue his career in the crypto world after reading the Ethereum Whitepaper, published before the 2015 launch of that open-source software project. Afterparty followed Fields’ founding of Wander, which uses low-cost wireless hardware proprietary software to provide wireless residential internet in Southern California.
“We started to see NFTs had this potential to be a powerful tool for creators, something that can enable them to much more closely connect with fans, so we started building Afterparty to build that community and create the tools to enable that community,” Fields says. “We’ve built a lot of technology around NFTs as access, more than just a one-off digital art piece, something that can serve as this verifiable digital asset that unlocks things in the virtual space and in real life.”
Next month’s inaugural festival will take over several spaces at Area15, including the outdoor A-Lot and the indoor, interactive space the Portal. The 1,500 Utopian NFT holders and their “plus threes” could add up to 6,000 potential attendees, Fields says, though he is anticipating actual attendance to land between 4,000 and 5,000.
“When we saw the [Area15] site, we just felt like it was meant to be the home for the festival, a special place that already has this immersive art feel,” Fields says. “Las Vegas is a great fit for a number of reasons beyond that this venue really spoke to us. It’s an incredibly international city, and crypto and NFTs are international movements, so that is important to us as well.”
Additional Afterparty NFT festival musicians and artists are expected to be unveiled in the coming days and weeks, and more information is available at afterparty.ai/festival.
Area15 has a similar-sounding event on the books earlier next month, the NFT Moonfest on March 4 and 5. 3LAU and Boombox Cartel will headline an extensive bill of dance music artists for that “celebration of the NFT and crypto community,” which will also include speakers and panels, an immersive art gallery, networking sessions and other NFT project activations.
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