Nearly 15,000 people registered to attend NFT.NYC in New York City. The conference was based at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, and ran from June 21st through the 23rd, 2022. Technology is evolving rapidly as are the ways in which NFTs (non-fungible tokens) can be utilized and monetized. Attendees were there to promote their metaverses, games, ticketing platforms, pizza distribution models and every possible iteration of collectable art projects.
This was a massive trade show with container loads of branded merchandise being given away on the exhibition floors while in the conference rooms and forums hundreds of speakers spoke on every imaginable topic. Teams were in place from startups with significant venture funding, alongside individuals who had hammered their credit cards to be in the room where the future was being explained.
More than anything, NFT.NYC was a networking event, where connections were forged in the coffee lines, the hallways and most importantly in the events spread across the city hosted by deep pocketed companies and artist collectives.
In this mix of old and new adherents to the paths being forged toward the future there was one constant: nearly every event had a DJ in place. Champ Medici, scion of Cozomo de Medici (aka Snoop Dogg) played a set at the Marquee nightclub. His set was marred by continuous advertising splashing across the screens while his music played. Immediately afterwards Steve Aoki played his own set with background visuals which enhanced the music.
At TAO, the Swedish Midsummer’s Night White Party was sponsored by YellowHeart, who is gaining traction in creating NFTs as entry tickets and imbuing them with special properties such as changing from black and white to color once scanned into a venue. That party was epic, in that the room was beautiful, the food and drinks were excellent and there were both great DJs providing sound and others simply in the room as party guests for the evening.
Tiesto played a big show at the Sand Box with props and flashy visuals. Here again, the room was full, and as was the developing pattern, the VIP space filled before the main floor.
Kascade played what might have been the loudest set of the week, also at Marquee. This was as professionally crafted as a DJ set can be, with tightly aligned sound and visuals. The club was absolutely at capacity.
At Somewhere Nowhere 3Lau played a late night set, with beautiful views across the city from their 38nd floor windows. It was hard to differentiate the mist in the room from that drifting outside in the late night air.
Meanwhile, nearly every art gallery with even one NFT for sale held an open house, and seemingly every open house had both an open bar and a DJ. Perhaps this conference will be renamed NFT.NYC.EDM in 2023.
Even the vaunted Bored Apes Yacht Club concert series at Pier 17 hosted a surprisingly good set by Little Wayne followed by Snoop Dogg as their closing act on Thursday night. Snoop stood behind a DJ mixer and played his own songs while a full scale variety show took place in front of him with tumblers, pole dancers, and a fully articulated dancing Dr. Bombay, Snoop’s own Bored Ape. Snoop’s show included a glimpse of the real life Eminem, and a full play of the new cartoon video of Snoop and Eminem’s new song From The D 2 The LBC.
Aside from the ever present DJs, there was an truly well executed installation of Cooltopia, an interactive play land which took a video game concept out of cyberspace and into a large swath of real estate with games, an electronic scavenger hunt and excellent brand promotion in a large two story space on 5th avenue.
This year’s NFT.NYC conference had something for everyone. Beyond the central hub at the Marriott in Times Square, there were talks at venues across the city including the storied Town Hall. Those in attendance fanned out across the city as they forged new friendships and business relationships. Events took place at the Hudson Yards, at South Street Seaport, at throughout the city and in large restaurants and party spaces. NFT.NYC is an interesting conundrum in that those who were there went to learn more about how cyberspace is becoming where people gather. However, this learning process, and the associated networking took place almost exclusively where people gathered as we once did pre-Covid, and interacted the way people always do: exchanging ideas, discussing dreams and telling stories of success and failure face to face in places where there were shared drinks, food, music and physical pieces of art on display.