Web3: Democratizing Creative Industries
|— Creative industries are about art – but the ability to monetize that art has always been controlled by a chosen few.
— For many artists, this means pursuing creative careers is simply not an option – for the audience, it means lack of diversity.
— But as the internet transitions from Web2 to Web3, its new infrastructure is shaking up of the relationship between creators and their audience – and removing the financial gatekeepers.
— Here, we explain how web3 is democratizing creative industries – and how you might use its tools to make your dream a reality!
Web3 is handing the power over to artists, and it’s already changing the way we create! You should ABSOLUTELY be paying attention – here‘s why.
When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming a writer, a movie maker, a fashion designer, a rock star or an artist?
So did we. Sniff.
If this story sounds familiar, chances are someone tried to warn you against that career path. Creative industries like movies, art and filmmaking, are notorious for their high barriers to entry and unreliable rewards for all but those at the very top – and even they needed a bucket of start-up cash, luck and some serious connections.
But we have news for you: it doesn’t need to be this way! It’s all a question of who holds the keys to the space, and Web3 is putting them back in the hands of you, the creator.
In this article, we’ll discuss how Web3 is empowering a wider variety of artists to make their passion their full-time job, and bringing a vastly more diverse array of art to the consumer. Sound good?! Grab your air guitar, and let’s dive in.
Why Creators Get a Bum Deal
From filmmakers to artists, musicians, writers and even bloggers building an audience on Instagram, all these people have one thing in common – they make money from what they create.
But they face a dichotomy – doing so means relying on a middleman. This comes in many forms, be it a social media platform, a producer who’s prepared to invest money in your film or an agent prepared to fund and promote your first album.
No Digital Ownership Meant No Control
No matter how you look at it, creatives have normally relied on cold, hard business people when it comes to making money out of their art. Why is that? The surprising answer is quite simple: lack of digital ownership.
Reaching a global audience as an artist means making your work digital, but prior to blockchain, once your work was online, it wasn’t yours anymore. You might be reaching a huge audience, but with your work in the public domain, your control over it was gone.
This meant artists had to resort to another approach. They sold the rights to a big company (record label, production house, social media platform) and that big company used its digital walled garden to monetize the art – Netflix, Youtube and Spotify are all great examples. The creators of the content on these platforms are relying on the platform’s ads or subscription packages to make money on their own content – and this has some consequences both financially and creatively.
Artists Give Most of their Profit Away
In this system, artists can’t simply sell their work directly to their audience – there is no way of doing this without a middleman.
With central entities acting as the gatekeepers, artists have no choice but to agree to their terms, and this means sharing the profits for their work.
Artists receive low rewards for their content, despite this being the very thing people come to the platform for. The top-down nature of the industry means most artists – even the biggest ones – are at the mercy of publisher lock-in, where a central entity can dictate unreasonable terms in exchange for providing an infrastructure for monetizing the artist’s work.
Limited Creative Autonomy for Artists
Relying on central gatekeepers – in any industry – also tends to mean artists are at the whims of the people they’re pitching their content to. It’s a form of censorship, where if your creations don’t conform with what the big players want, you won’t be able to monetize them.
Imagine spending years pouring your heart into an indie movie script. When it’s finally, done, you send it off to producers far and wide, but nobody wants to make it. Well, not unless you add a few big explosions and a shark.
Lack of Diversity for the Audience
And that leads to the final issue. We, the audience, sometimes forget – everything that reaches us has been curated by just a few big names at the top. Just imagine how many films got rejected, for each one we watch! With big platforms chasing maximum profit, diversity tends not to be a consideration, and that’s a loss for us all.
The problem is clear: lack of digital ownership has a negative impact on artists, the artistic space and the audience. So let’s get back to our original question – how is emerging technology overcoming these big problems?
Web3: Bye Bye Middlemen, Hello Diversity
Web3 is often called the internet of value and that’s a good summary of what’s going on. Web3’s defining feature is allowing digital assets to be owned autonomously and monetized without a middleman. Here’s how that works:
NFTs might have earned a reputation as profile pictures and memes, but this overlooks their real value: the ability to tokenize and digitally own and control any sort of digital content. In other words, digital sovereignty.
From a film to a digital fashion design, from albums and songs to digital novels – no matter what you’ve created, NFTs allow artists to enter the global digital marketplace and retain ownership of their content. So let’s say you want to put your film online; instead of selling it to a streaming site, you can simply tokenize the content.
You can then make 1000 tokens of your film, meaning only the buyer of each one can view your production. No middleman, no changing your film to suit current trends. Just artistic freedom and a fair payment for the creative.
Peer to Peer Payments
So how exactly do you get your money? Previously, the money came from subscriptions or ads to the central platform, before a small part of it was paid out to the creator, all of which was done in Fiat. But with tokenized assets changing hands on the blockchain, creators get paid directly from the consumer in crypto – this is thanks to the trustless system blockchain creates. No more sharing profits, no more streaming sites – now, artists set their own price, get paid directly and take nearly all of it home.
How Blockchain is Disrupting Creative Industries
For content creators, blockchain technology has some big implications, and they’re already being used to pave the way for the next generation of artists across industries.
By releasing their music in NFT format artists can now sell the asset directly to fans.
In the music industry, one well-known example is the most recent Kings of Leon album, which was released independently to the digital market in NFT format. This might not be a great example of a new artist breaking into the space via Web3 mechanisms, but it shows how blockchain is already disrupting the industry and changing the key players.
Last year alone, music NFTs sales generated $80 million in primary sales, with the majority going to independent artists. This allows artists to harness the power of a global market on their own terms.
Besides selling albums as NFTs, artists can create another revenue source by joining decentralized streaming platforms like Audius. They will retain complete ownership over their songs via the internal smart contract of the NFT, while still taking home a significant (90% in the case of Audius) portion of music sales.
TV and Cinema
Remember that script that kept getting rejected by producers? Film-making in Web3 offers scriptwriters an alternative means of raising money, allowing a diverse array of films to see the light of day.
Filmmaker Trevor Hawkins is a great example of how NFTs are democratizing the film and TV industry. He fractionalized the commercial ownership of his film into NFTs and also sold tickets to view the film’s premiere via non-fungible tokens.
Meanwhile, some decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) are focused entirely on funding – and managing – media projects, raising money to make the production via tokenized commercial rights to the final film. Again, this enables artists to get their film made, without compromising on quality or artistic freedom. They simply crowdsource the capital and share the profits fairly in the end.
Art & Fashion (…brought to you by the Metaverse)
Even fashion and art creatives are seeing the benefits of the internet of value, especially as we witness the rise of the Metaverse, where their creations can be displayed, worn and experienced in a hyper-realistic social space.
Digital fashion is not a new idea – gamers have been using “skins” for a long time. But here, the platform owned the skin, and the player could only use it within that one ecosystem. The rise of tokenized assets means that fashion can be “owned” by digital denizens, used across multiple platforms, displayed in personal galleries and sold for real value. This has created a market for independent digital fashion designers, whose work is not only in demand, but can be monetized by them directly. And they don’t need to conform to the trends of the day in order to market their work.
Similarly, NFT art has seen an explosion, especially within the Metaverse. Gone are the days when an artist needed to hire an agent or promoter – an increasing demand for digital art means creatives can access a much larger market, without sharing their profits with a middleman. And the Metaverse serves as a 24/7 gallery where artists and consumers can display that work.
Web3 – Democratizing Creativity
With no gatekeepers deciding who and what gets a global platform, Web3 means a creative career is an option for anyone with an internet connection and a crypto wallet.
Decentralized platforms and Metaverses allow creators to access a global market, while tokenized assets (and the smart contracts they run on) enable them to monetize and manage their creations on their own terms.
It’s time for creators to wave goodbye to big platforms and start controlling what they make – and that’s a good thing for all of us!
Knowledge is power.
As an artist, understanding how to tokenize your work gives you the power – and here, we show you how it’s done. Thanks, School of Block!