I decided to attend the Ultra Abu Dhabi music festival using NFT tickets. Here is my review and main takeaways.
Tickets: NFTs with utility
Event tickets in the form of NFTs are the most direct implementation of a utility token. While many collections promise all sorts of rewards or benefits, these perks are often vague or uncertain, creating a whole spectrum of different levels of utility. On one hand, you have utility-free art like EtherRocks, and on the other, you have for example Fellaz NFT tickets. Sure, you can treat these tickets as art or souvenirs, but it’s clear that their value is almost entirely based on their utility — that is, on the guaranteed ability to access a particular event or venue at a particular time.
Ultra Abu Dhabi is a two-day EDM (electronic dance music) festival, part of the Ultra Worldwide festivals that take place all around the world. Recently, they’ve partnered with Fellaz and seem to be experimenting with the Web3 ticketing ecosystem. Not all Ultra festivals are going to have NFT tickets available, but it is assumed that the upcoming Ultra Singapore and Ultra Korea events will. Being in the UAE, I decided to give it a go and see how everything works in practice. The fact that I’m a big fan of large music events didn’t hurt.
The idea is that you purchase an NFT ticket, show it at the gate and exchange it for a wristband along with some Fellaz-related perks. In practice, this can be a bit complicated, even for someone used to crypto.
Tickets were sold on Binance, but Fellaz also partnered with Xclusive, where you could mint the ticket yourself. All tickets minted were considered VIP, and there was no option to mint General Admission or GA+ tickets. To put things into perspective, early bird GA tickets purchased online using a debit card cost $130, while pre-door tickets cost $150. Despite the higher price point, opting for a Fellaz NFT ticket came with several perks, including access to dedicated waiting lines, VIP sections and bathrooms, merch and drink coupons, and even a chance to win a meet and greet with the artists, so the price-to-value ratio was quite good.
The sale on Binance ended on the 3rd of March, but the mint on Xclusive continued for another 24 hours. On Binance, the floor would sometimes dip below the official price of $260. I’m guessing some people bought these tickets not realizing it’s not a collection but a utility token. Some perhaps could not attend. After a bit of waiting and scouting, I managed to nab a ticket for $188! Definitely pleased with that.
This presents a possible challenge. Assuming Web3 implementation becomes more popular and common, it will also make scalping much easier. It’s theoretically possible to buy out the entire pool of tickets and then resell them at inflated prices. Limiting the number of mints per wallet might not work as it’s fairly easy to create multiple wallets as well. The only real solution would be whitelisting and prioritizing users who have a history of participating in events they bought tickets for.
This is where things get a bit complicated. To use the NFT for admission, you must download the Favorlet wallet. The only issue is Binance doesn’t allow for withdrawals to Favorlet, so to get my NFT there, I had to first withdraw it to Metamask and then transfer it yet again to Favorlet using Metamask mobile. You also have to remember to use the BNB chain and you have to manually add your NFT in Metamask by entering the contract address and token ID. For a regular person who doesn’t know much about Web3, this literally is a showstopper.
Attending Ultra Abu Dhabi
After jumping through the hoops, I finally had Favorlet installed on my mobile along with the corresponding NFT ticket. It was time to party!
To obtain my wristband, I had to go visit the Fellaz booth, which was actually a tent. There I had to validate my NFT via a timed QR code and collect my wristband plus goodies. It was all pretty straightforward and quick. The moment the NFT is validated, certain properties change (or at least should change). This is done to prevent multiple people from attempting to enter using the same NFT.
Ultra Abu Dhabi had only two stages. It wasn’t a massive event, but for someone longing for a good electronic thumper, this was good enough. I’m not going to review the festival itself, but it had two stages, the line-up was decent and the crowd was enthusiastic.
While waiting in line, I did see a bunch of other people using NFTs to claim their wristbands. However, when I got to the festival grounds, it was obvious we represented a tiny fraction of participants. Even at the Fellaz VIP section, which was meant to be open exclusively to NFT holders, I didn’t meet anyone interested in crypto. One person said he won a VIP upgrade, others simply bought it. Fellaz had their own tent at the festival next to the food trucks, so that’s where a lot of those non-crypto folks came from, but on the whole, the VIP viewing section was still embarrassingly empty.
Perhaps this is because NFT buyers are just like any other party-goer and prefer to be close to the stage and in the middle of the action. That makes sense, but if one was hoping to network or talk about crypto, they would be disappointed.
Fellaz VIP section
Perks also turned out to be a bit hit-and-miss. Rewards that were supposed to be handed out on-chain were instead given out in the form of scratch cards. Not a very transparent or verifiable way to dole out rewards, to be honest. I was told that supposed meet-and-greets with artists also didn’t materialize. A $20 merchandise coupon turned out to be worth 20 AED instead, which is just over $5. Considering the cheapest shirts were retailing for $32, this “perk” felt a bit insulting. All those things made the VIP pass feel less special and less valuable than it could have been.
Perk scratchcards (left) Fellaz & Favorlet tent (right)
After the event was over, all ticket holders were airdropped a special souvenir NFT to mark the occasion. I have to admit, it looks quite cool.
Unfortunately, I cannot send this NFT to Binance as this particular souvenir token hasn’t been whitelisted. I guess it’s just meant to sit in Favorlet’s wallet forever. I am, however, not planning on keeping Farvolet on my phone, so I transferred it to my Metamask instead. Also, to my surprise, I was able to sell my used ticket for $46. This lowered the overall cost to around $142, which is pretty amazing.
As somewhat of a crypto supporter, I found purchasing, transferring and validating the ticket much more fun than just buying it online at Ticketmaster. I understand this will not be the same for most. In fact, it will be the opposite. There’s still a lot of friction and too many obstacles for mass adoption. It also seems the interest is not there. Despite competitive pricing, most casual partygoers cannot be bothered with what still looks like a very exotic and convoluted way to purchase a ticket.
The foundation has been set, but it remains to be seen how the partnership between Fellaz and Ultra will evolve. I expect that the number of NFT ticket buyers will continue to grow with each successive festival, but only time will tell.