Mike Hager: The future of the media industry lies in NFTs

By Nina Brandtner

Mike Hager is an NFT expert and author of "NFTs and the Future of Finance: Your Complete Guide to Investing in Non Fungible Tokens" / Photo: Christian Lisch

From radio producer to NFT expert: Mike Hager embodied the Antenne Bayern character "Studiotechniker Nullinger" for a long time, now he has a collection of digital artwork worth millions and shares his NFT knowledge with others. In this interview, he paints a picture of a future that no longer works without NFTs and reveals how media companies can already take advantage of non-fungible tokens.

Mike, when did you first hear about NFTs?

Mike Hager: In January 2021, I stumbled across the topic in American podcasts. It took me almost a month to figure out: What is it? And how can I invest? I had to gather everything, in English-language Twitter, Discord or YouTube channels. That was tedious, but extremely fun. Today, with my book or YouTube channel, you can comfortably get into the topic in a matter of hours.

Many can't relate to the hype around NFTs. What convinced you that we are dealing with future technology?

Hager: Ultimately, it's about property rights. Our world is built on that: The money in my account is mine, my car is mine, my house is mine, these are all property rights. In a world where everything is becoming more digital, digital property rights are playing an ever-increasing role. NFTs are exactly the tool to represent, certify, manage and verify the authenticity of digital property rights. That's why NFTs are so important. They are a technology that will not go away and will take over and simplify very large parts of our lives.

You used to do radio at Antenne Bayern. How is it that you now earn your money as an NFT expert and investor?

Hager: Investing and searching for future trends have long been my hobby. In 2013, I purchased my first 30 Bitcoins. At a time when nobody I know was familiar with Bitcoins. When I explained it, everyone said, "It's a scam, pyramid scheme, tulip bubble, stay away from it." The same was the case with NFTs in January 2021: "Huh, money for pictures, for JPGs, are you crazy?" That's when I realized: I've seen this before! I made two big mistakes with Bitcoin: I invested too little and did not keep them long enough. I did things a little  differently with NFTs. I went in with a lot more money and have been there for a comparatively long time without selling a single piece. As a result, I am now deeply involved in NFTs.

NFTs in the media industry: utilities and incentives


NFTs can include utilities, such as invitations to exclusive clubs or events that you get when you buy them. How much of the appeal of NFTs is this community aspect?

Hager: Community is vital to us as humans. I think that's deeply ingrained in us. For many people, that's a significant motivator to get involved in this field. It's fun to pursue goals and find support in a community. Especially in a world that is becoming more and more digital and global. I've experienced this myself: you're in another country and then you meet people from your club and say, "I'm an Ape, are you an Ape too, let's have dinner today?" (He refers to the Bored Ape Yacht Club) I have people from the Philippines to the U.S. to Georgia to South America in my NFT circle of friends and network. These communities are some of the friendliest online communities I have ever met.

Couldn't this networking aspect also be interesting for the media industry?

Hager: NFTs will be at least as exciting for the media industry as for all other industries. Every major radio station or TV station tries to cultivate its communities, be it on Facebook or Instagram. However, there's a lot of dispersion and fragmentation involved; you don't get as many people in one place anymore. That's where NFTs come in. You now have the opportunity to incentivize people with digital products to become part of the community, stay part of the community, engage within the community, and ultimately generate customer loyalty. With NFTs, there are interesting means for radio stations, for example, to increase listening time.

For example?

Hager: By confirming the listening time with an NFT, this NFT has a special design that can be resold and offers special utilities. With these utilities, you could participate in events, win prizes or meet celebrities.

I'm an Ape": Bored Apes are the NFTs in the "Bored Ape Yacht Club" collection. The images of bored apes are among the most famous NFTs and trade for hundreds of thousands of dollars. © Adobe Stock / Ascannio

NFTs as an incentive tool for media companies


The Bavarian media industry is very well positioned in many areas - what about projects involving NFTs at the site?

Hager: We're already getting initial inquiries, from artists, for example. But I think it will be another five years before NFTs really reach the mainstream of media professionals. Well, not yet the mainstream of media consumers. But once that happens, there's no turning back. Once you understand what's possible, you want to be there and profit.

Should media professionals nevertheless start looking at digital certificates of ownership now?

Hager: Any media professional who understands today what NFTs are and what you can do with them can open a bottle of champagne for that alone. There are possibilities that didn't exist before, and we're only at the very beginning.

At which interfaces will non-fungible tokens become interesting for the media industry? Where could they be used in the future?

Hager: With NFTs, you can do any form of incentivization. You can reward a certain behavior, with things that the consumer desires. You can continue to push those rewards over the years. As long as the NFT is in a particular user's wallet, you can increase the value of that NFT. For example, by saying as a broadcaster, "You bought this NFT three years ago. Surprise: for Christmas this year, all 500 people who have this NFT will get dinner with one of our prime-time hosts!" Some will be happy, others will resell their NFT for five times as much, which in turn will make the media companies money. Even as a small media company, you can crowdfund. Assume that the first 1000 Radio Alpenwelle NFTs cost one Ether each. Everyone who has one gets a certain amount of advertising time the following year.

NFTs and sustainability: 2022 should bring improvement


Aren't you concerned that the NFT bubble might burst after all?

Hager: You have to differ between two different aspects. The first one is NFT technology. There's not even a bubble there, let alone will it ever burst, because the technology is so disruptive: the ability to attach digital property certificates to digital goods, make them tradable and prove their authenticity. That goes for videos, music, PDFs, any form of file. This technology is not going away, it's just getting bigger.

And the other aspect?

Hager: Collectibles like the Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, Azuki, Doodles or CryptoKitties. A lot of Collectibles, some people talk about 90-99 percent, are currently in a bubble that may partially or temporarily burst. I think there are some collectibles that will crash in price at one time, but that will go up in the long run. For some, the bubble will burst and they will become worthless. Because the team is leaving, because the roadmap is not going to continue. The roadmap is what the team promised the buyers in utilities, but fails to deliver. Or does not want to implement, this is then called Rugpull. It's still a bit of the Wild West out there.

Many opponents criticize the extremely high energy consumption of blockchain. Are NFTs at all justifiable from a sustainability perspective?

Hager: NFTs take place on the Ethereum blockchain and it is currently still working with proof-of-work, so there is certainly a higher energy consumption. In 2022, there will be a switch to proof-of-stake, and then the energy consumption will drop by 99 percent. This will then no longer be an issue for NFTs and the Ethereum blockchain.

Proof of Work / Proof of Stake

Both methods are used to generate new blocks on a blockchain. In the Proof of Work method, users mine cryptocurrency by solving complex arithmetic operations that consume a lot of energy. In the process, new blocks are created on the blockchain. This process is also known as mining.

In proof of stake, the individual who solves the calculation first does not mine the next block. Instead, a member of the network is randomly selected to validate the next block. The prerequisite is that there is a stake in the form of coins in his wallet. The more Coins someone has, the higher the chance that he or she will be selected for validation and receive a reward.

Source: blockchainwelt.de / blockchain-insider.de

Take a look into the future: In which areas will we no longer be able to do without NFTs in ten years' time?

Hager: In all of them. Everything will be an NFT. Every book will be published with an NFT, every radio and TV station will work with NFTs, every small craftsman. Behind every property there will be an NFT in which all renovation work is stored in a tamper-proof manner, so that anyone interested in the property later when they buy it can immediately see what was renovated and when. Everything is going to be an NFT.