Disclosure: This article reflects personal opinions about potential future content distribution models.
Today, the way we consume content is fundamentally changing. We no longer patiently wait for our favorite movie or shows to be released in theaters or on TV. We follow the actors of our favorite shows doggedly on Twitter, look for hints about the show on their Instagram page. We group chat with our friends about which actors were chosen, what plot twists we expect or hope for. When the show is released, we are often first consuming it online through streaming providers like Netflix or Amazon. And when the show is over we express angst - what to watch now? Maybe we’ll go back to flipping through YouTube videos or scrolling social media, until something else catches our eye.
In a world where many consumer platforms are distributing content primarily through online channels, creators and communities hold tremendous power in distribution through social platforms. They are our curators* in an increasingly noisy online experience. At the same time, consumer preferences are shifting to online experiences that are more immersive and interactive. And as these preferences manifest in rising demand for these experiences, new tools are emerging to enable creators to leverage their distribution to provide those experiences to consumers.
As a result, we seem to be on the cusp on the next wave of the democratization of content creation, which has the potential to put more power in the hands of creators and consumers than ever before.
With thanks again to Richard Horvath for the lovely cover photo.
Today, consumers are active participants in online ecosystems. They create and build games, write and publish content to thousands or millions of followers, livestream their lives, design and mint NFTs, support and promote artists and projects they admire, and more. Like the internet developers of the past 15-20 years, consumers have an active role in shaping online spaces.
Rather than purely consuming content or using platforms, consumers can be patrons of creators and projects they admire, producers of online experiences and content, or be a mix of both.
I have been spending 2021 steeped in consumer companies, from education to marketplaces to crypto. This year has seen some truly incredible innovation, spurred in part by the pandemic, technological innovation, and the ingenuity of an ever-increasing number of talented entrepreneurs. I spent some time processing what I have observed, and making some predictions about what we might expect in the consumer landscape in 2022:
The number of creators with nearly platform-scale followings, as well as the long tail with smaller but dedicated followings, continues to rise. Mr. Beast, for example, has over 80M subscribers, while Kim Kardashian has over 270M followers in Instagram.
Creators are increasingly discovering ways to monetize their followings and talents, from merch (Fourthwall) to brand marketing (Pearpop)* to distinct product lines (Skims) to communities (Patreon, Fanhouse). Another toolkit for creator monetization, NFTs, will continue to improve, as will the infrastructure for creators to use web3 products to monetize. Already, creators have found use cases for NFTs that span music, dance, video, and writing.