CoinDesk and Art Blocks Release Microcosms to Supercharge IRL Events With NFTs

The three-year NFT ticket offers widening rewards for holders, refashioning the typical live event ticket model.

AccessTimeIconMar 1, 2023 at 7:21 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 2, 2023 at 9:14 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconMar 1, 2023 at 7:21 p.m. UTCUpdated Mar 2, 2023 at 9:14 p.m. UTC
AccessTimeIconMar 1, 2023 at 7:21 p.m. UTCUpdated Mar 2, 2023 at 9:14 p.m. UTC

The live events industry is projected to grow to $1.55 trillion by 2028, with significant growth predicted in all major segments of events from sports and music to conferences and corporate events. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there’s something troubling about this story because it comes at the expense of consumers and their hard-won cash.

When Ticketmaster and Live Nation merged in 2010, a paradigm was created where larger controlling entities exert tremendous sway over everything from ticket access and venue bookings to merchandise rights. That hurts the consumer and all but the very top-performing talent.

An illustration of this is Disney (DIS), which last year announced that its Parks and Experience revenue rose 72%, largely through its Genie+ and Lightning Lane services that let consumers buy in for quicker access to rides and events. How are those consumers rewarded for their loyalty to Live Nation or Disney? By being asked to pay up and renew the next time they want to participate.

A better way

There’s another better way. Blockchain technology has risen to challenge traditional business models, and the opportunity exists to use a decentralized, public ledger to measure participation in a community around live experiences. One could imagine flipping the existing events-ticketing model. A brand could read on-chain data to reward consumers for their dedication and make their experience special based on the financial and time commitments they have spent, not on what the brand hopes they will spend in the future. Not only that, allowing ownership to be permissionless and peer-to-peer enables those same consumers to recoup or profit from their support as they exit an ecosystem and others want to enter.

CoinDesk, which organizes Consensus, the largest event in crypto, wants to be on the right side of this shift from maximizing revenue from loyal users to rewarding the loyalty of users.

That’s why CoinDesk began exploring how Web3 tooling could deepen the relationship with readers and specifically those who come to Consensus, which is now in its ninth year. Our DESK is a participation token that was released in 2021 and continues to evolve, with rewards available to readers of And now, with the addition of Microcosms, a multiyear ticket and reward layer, Web3 is about to be fully entrenched in the conference. CoinDesk still offers traditional ticketing options, but with Microcosms, CoinDesk has added a new option for those who may want to engage in this new ticketing model and to potentially be rewarded by doing so.

For Consensus, CoinDesk has created, with the help of some of the most innovative builders in Web3, a dynamic multiyear, richly layered event experience. This is what we’re calling Microcosms.

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Microcosms (Fahad Karim/CoinDesk)

What is Microcosms?

  • Microcosms is up to 1,000 unique works of digital art (NFTs) created by generative artist and engineer Fahad Karim
  • By being a Microcosm holder, you also get a companion Pro Pass airdropped to your wallet for the next three years (a $3,600 minimum value). You can use, gift or sell the ticket as it is an on-chain asset that you own
  • Holding Microcosms also gets you the opportunity to receive additional rewards that create a deeper connection with Consensus and the industry. The reward system resets each year until 2025.
  • Microcosms is powered by the Art Blocks Engine that drives the popular generative art platform.
  • The back-end reward systems are managed in partnership with Passage Protocol.
  • The redemption and token gated aspects of the project are managed by Tokenproof.

With Microcosms, we are leaning into all the best benefits that digital collectibles enable. We are supporting creativity and working with a crypto native artist (Fahad Karim) and encouraging people to consider crypto art as worthy of collecting and holding. We also are using on-chain verification to create new ways to access unique experiences, and finally, we are creating a valuable reward system that takes place over a three-year period that encourages people to hold an asset that by doing so, pays holders back.

Why generative art?

Generative art, especially algorithms written to a smart contract, is a native use case of the Ethereum blockchain. Though the first generative art dates back to the 1970s, it’s one of the native art forms of the crypto movement. These non-fungible tokens contain mechanics that enable a richer and more creative experience for collectors.

Why the Art Blocks Engine?

One of the most compelling examples of using creativity and code to build a robust community is Art Blocks. Started in 2020 by Erick Calderon, Art Blocks is a platform that connects artists and audience through collectible digital art. Art Blocks Engine provides a tech platform for companies to fuel creativity through generative design, secured by blockchain technology.

“It’s so exciting to see a wonderfully compelling project that combines all the things I love about collectibility, the art form and a use case for the technology. We are really thrilled to be able to help this come to life,” Calderon told CoinDesk.

The rewards system

Unlike with a traditional event ticket that simply gains you entrance to an event, we focused a set of on-the-ground rewards to enhance an attendee’s experience. Beyond access, all users get our DESK token airdropped to them. The token can be used at the event for food, drink, merchandise or experiences. Based on an algorithm, additional people will receive special rewards like a speaking slot at Consensus, a booth on the show floor, a comped hotel stay or meetings with key venture capitalists who are investing in Web3. If recipients have no use for a reward, they can sell it on the open market to someone who could make use of it. We have more than 350 special rewards to distribute to the 1,000 people who may mint this pass.

This mechanism of rewards will continue each year for the next three years and all IRL (in-real-life) rewards received are airdropped as additional NFTs for the holder to redeem or sell.

See a full list of 2023’s rewards below:

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Since 2021, NFT projects have been figuring out new ways of giving back value to a community of fans and collectors. By holding a Bored Ape Yacht Club token in 2021, for example, holders were able to see a private show featuring Beck, The Strokes, Chris Rock and Da Baby. In 2022 VeeFriends holders were given access to a multiday Gary Vaynerchuk event that featured personalities like Eva Longoria, Pharrell Williams, Snoop Dogg and Mila Kunis. We also have started to see traditional events like the Tribeca Film Festival and Coachella dabble in on-chain access passes.

It is still early to determine whether experiments like Microcosms will dramatically shift the experience industry toward decentralized systems. But the premise of adding value instead of purely extracting value from consumers is one that aligns with the ethos of many who work in the blockchain industry. This model opens up new paradigms for general consumers and live event fans all around the world.

Microcosms launches Thursday at

CoinDesk would like to thank all of the amazing partners who have been with us through this journey and helped to form this experience Fahad Karim, Art Blocks, Passage Protocol, TokenProof, Ledger, Infinite Objects, Sfermion, Collab & Currency, Double Down and the entire internal team.

Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.


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The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

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Sam Ewen is CoinDesk's SVP, head of CoinDesk Studios.

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Hannah Siegel-Gardner is the chief marketing officer at Art Blocks.