OK. We know Web3 is just around the corner, and we know it's built on the blockchain. What's somewhat lesser-known is that, together, Web3 and blockchain are enabling the emergence of a new creator economy. We're starting to see the edges of a new business model that redefines how artists and content creators are compensated while providing new opportunities for artists to thrive and engage with their community of fans/followers.
That's what we’ll be discussing in this post.
Art is Hard
It's essentially cliché by now that earning a living as an artist is tough. And if they do manage to make a living through art, odds are they're going to have to sacrifice their artistic integrity for your livelihood more often than they'd like.
While Web2 did bring new opportunities for creatives, the centralized nature of the platforms hosting those opportunities meant that creatives had to bow to the monetization algorithms of said platforms if they hoped for a chance at making a living. And when you consider that the content creator's slice of the pie on those platforms is just a tiny fraction of the revenue their content generated, it's pretty clear that the relationship between centralized platforms and the creators that fill them with content is somewhat parasitic.
But Web3 (and blockchain) are set to change that. Moving from a centralized client-server framework, with a gatekeeper philosophy (Web2), to a decentralized, blockchain-based framework (Web3) changes the game for artists and creatives. Here are some of the drivers of that transformation.
Redefining Ownership Through Tokenization
Let's say you produce a piece of digital art, an image, for example. And you upload that image to a large social network for a bit of visibility. Is the image still entirely yours and under your complete control? The answer is a resounding no. Most social networks reserve the right to use user-generated content for advertising purposes and the right to distribute, copy, modify, and sell user-generated content. That doesn't come close to fulfilling the definition of "under my control."
Web3 changes that with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), registered in the blockchain, to establish a new form of digital copyright. By "converting" your piece of digital art to an NFT, it will be assigned a unique code (a token) that is tracked and verified by the blockchain. And that guarantees its origin and ownership. By tokenizing their content, artists and creatives can exert full control over their creative assets and determine for themselves whether to sell, to whom, and for how much.
Artists may still need the visibility they get from large centralized platforms, but with Web3, they have everything they need to control the buying, selling, and distribution of their assets.
New Assets to Monetize
In Web2, content can essentially be duplicated ad nauseam. A copy of a video, image, or song is identical to the original. In such a context, it's nearly impossible for artists to monetize their digital creations without resorting to advertising and analytics collection - and that "solution" comes with its lot of issues. But with NFTs, Web3 injects scarcity into the creator economy.
By serializing digital creations, they become unique and rare. So now, a copy of a serialized asset is not identical and cannot claim to have the same value. That has a few direct benefits for artists and creatives.
First, artists can now directly monetize their creative assets instead of relying on indirect revenue streams. Because the asset has been tokenized, it now has a unique value that can be exchanged. And we know this to be the case because while Web3 may not have taken over the internet just yet, there is an existing (and thriving) NFT market today. And odds are, it will only grow.
Second, artists can now sell ownership of unique digital items, providing them with more direct revenue. That may sound redundant. But what I'm actually saying is that artists can now do more than simply sell copies of their work. They can now tokenize certain assets and sell those as different "products." These "products" are unique digital assets worth more than just "regular" copies. And the buyer can prove their ownership and the unicity of the item via the blockchain.
And finally, the third point, which is tied to the above, is that because anything can be tokenized, artists can create a host of new assets that they can monetize. In Web3, fans/followers can not only buy merchandise to support their favorite creators, but they can also claim ownership of unique digital assets (a demo song from a musical artist, a sketch from visual artists, and the list goes on and on (and on).
More Creative Freedom
As mentioned above, when artists and creators are forced to operate within the bounds of a large, centralized third-party platform, they can't just let their artistic ambitions soar - if they hope to make a living, that is.
Creatives on centralized platforms have to cater to that platform's algorithms for their work to be prominent. And these algorithms, finely tuned for the platform profitability, favor certain content types over others. So regardless of what you may want to create, you've got some compelling reasons to do what every other artist on the platform is doing: create content that aligns with the algorithms. Not only does that neuter artistic innovation and creativity, but if you push it to its ultimate consequences, it pushes us into a monoculture, where everyone expresses the same ideas.
Without that content-optimizing pressure, artists can let their creativity flow more freely. And the creative market also becomes somewhat less competitive as more and more artists start doing their own thing rather than reproducing slightly different versions of the same thing in the hopes of winning the sacrosanct algorithms' attention. And a collateral effect of this newfound artistic freedom in a decentralized marketplace will be the creation of new and unexpected niches - which is what art and culture should be doing in the first place.
New economic landscapes and paradigms always seem to favor the usual suspects. And while I'm sure the big players will figure out how to benefit from Web3, it really does have the potential to help out the "little guy" - particularly the "creative little guy." With unambiguous ownership, better direct monetization opportunities, and greater artistic freedom, Web3 is poised to change the game for creatives. And as a society, we all stand to benefit from that.
Art is good.
Modev was founded in 2008 on the simple belief that human connection is vital in the era of digital transformation. Today, Modev produces market-leading events such as VOICE Global, VOICE Summit, an award-winning VOICE Talks internet talk show and THREE, the event for the Transformation Economy. Modev staff, better known as "Modevators," include community building and transformation experts worldwide. To learn more about Modev, and the breadth of events offered live and virtually, visit modev.com.