If you recognise the name Dapper Labs, it might be because of its CryptoKitties blockchain-powered game, where people buy and sell virtual cats (sometimes for startling amounts of money). Or you might recognise the startup from the announcement in September 2019 that Warner Music Group was investing in Dapper Labs as part of an $11.2m funding round, with suggestions at the time that its technology might be used ‘to create unique, tradable merchandise featuring the company’s roster of superstar talent’.

Another model for that, outside music, has just been announced by the company. it’s launching an app called NBA TopShot which will be based around ‘digital collectibles’ from the US’ premier basketball league. “They’re multimedia and data smashed together into a token. That includes heroic photography and a video as well,” is how VP of partnerships Caty Tedman explained it to TechCrunch.

The idea is that fans will buy token packs for between $9 and “the mid-$200 range” (!) and can then show off their collections, as well as trading them with other fans within the app’s own secondary market.

There’s plenty here for the music industry to think about – and there are already some startups, like Fanaply who we recently profiled, exploring it for music. In the meantime, NBA TopShot will at least teach us whether basketballers are more or less valuable than kittens, in the blockchain world. Place your bets now (spoiler: this is the internet, it’s almost certainly kittens).

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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