The next iteration of the creator economy is unfolding before our eyes. The blockchain provides a distributed order book for skills and services that unlocks multiple opportunities:
Consumers are able to support their favorite artists directly and gain access to exclusive member experiences through tokenized community gating;
Creators are able to plug their art into a network of brands and communities to monetize their talent while retaining IP rights;
Communities are able to tap into a composable library of designs and products to cater to the dynamic needs of their members.
Society is yet to realize the full implications of these capabilities. However, it must be remembered that we have yet to learn how to utilize the internet to its full capacity, despite it being commercialized nearly 40 years ago.
It took over a century to fully harness the capacity of electricity in terms of economic development—rapid industrial growth only started in the 1920s with the consumerization of electricity and the automobile. The internet is undergoing similar growing pains as it is in the process of realizing its potential to unleash a new era of productivity in the distributed service sector.
Blockchain will play a vital role in this transformation by enabling creator monetization and collaboration tooling that the internet had previously been unable to provide.
Artists used to have no other option outside of working directly for a patron. During the Renaissance, artists were sponsored by aristocrats who put their works on display for their network to see.
As society evolved, institutions began to play this role. Artists would depend on various entities to distribute their works, such as museums, magazines, and other forms of media, which essentially act as gatekeepers. If an artist’s work was approved, they could monetize it.
As the internet developed, artists were presented with more tools. Instead of relying on an institution for a salary, they could sell directly to their audiences on social media. Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok lowered the barrier to entry for artists through distribution but also presented artists with many new problems.
Creator burnout did not exist until the treadmill of social media forced creators to churn out content on a daily basis or face being rendered irrelevant by the algorithms. 93% of creators say the profession has had a negative impact on their lives and 65% feel overworked and/or underpaid, according to a recent survey commissioned by Mighty Networks.
Enterprise platforms started emerging as well, such as Fiverr and Upwork, to provide companies with white labeling and outsourcing solutions. Geography is no longer a barrier as anyone with a computer and a skill can get a job, from any corner of the world. However, sellers face issues with exorbitant platform fees, unwarranted bans, and ultimately lack ownership over their content and audience.
NFTs have provided creators with the tooling to monetize their audiences directly while minimizing platform fees. This gives creators artistic freedom and enables them to capture revenue all across the demand curve as they are better able to sell art and memberships according to audience needs:
However, many creators still struggle to build audiences to create that demand. While NFTs may provide better revenue capture tools, they do not provide creators with scaling solutions.
Rather than focusing on simply creating content themselves, creators have to become skilled at marketing, cultivating relationships, and community management from the outset (or deputize community members who possess these skills). They must function a lot like startup founders: raising capital, evangelizing their vision, and balancing stakeholder interests along the way.
— Li Jin
Unfortunately, not all creators can (or want) to be involved in the busywork. Selling is not a skill that every creator has, and in the bootstrap phase, outsourcing is cost prohibitive for many. Many would much rather just focus on their passion.
Creators need more effective solutions to get a leg up for the next iteration of the creator economy. As consumer experiences continue to evolve, web3 infrastructure is enabling more effective collaboration with creators and communities so that brands are better able to meet consumer needs.
9dcc, led by gmoney, has been making waves with its creator-led ITERATION drops. The first was a collectible photograph from Justin Aversano, and the second is a collaboration with Art Blocks founder Snowfro.
A natural synergy emerges in which the brand is able to leverage a creator’s community for exposure while the creator leverages the brand’s innovative “networked products” solution for tying physical items to NFTs with NFC chips. Although this model opens up new opportunities for creator monetization models, it largely depends on the creator’s influence and reach to drive revenue.
Brands that are community owned and operated are picking up momentum, such as Nouns DAO and their public auctions. All proceeds of auctions are directed to the DAO’s treasury and then invested into future Nouns initiatives, as proposed by its members.
This collective treasury model backed by a unified brand enables creators to tap into the power of the brand’s identity. The synergy exists between the collective brand leveraging a network of talent to further build out awareness, while the creator is able to leverage the brand’s reputation to distribute their work and gain recognition.
Established giants such as Nike are leveraging community in a similar manner, except their strategy is to drive engagement on the consumer front. Their .Swoosh metaverse initiative is enabling consumers to propose their own versions of the product, and collaborate with designers for potential royalty share on product launches. Although individual creators may be able to gain recognition through leveraging brand reputation, there appears to be no current benefit in terms of IP ownership.
Existing web3 platforms provide the infrastructure that enables creators to sell directly to their audiences with minimal fees. OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare are the most common platforms for artists, while sound.xyz enables musicians to release NFTs that allow early supporters to share ownership in the success of that creator. However, success in distribution still depends on an individual musician's audience.
Creator networks are starting to emerge as multiplayer brands co-create products that reflect their shared values. This new coordination primitive is known as a headless brand.
Songcamp created a “headless band” of artists who collaborated in a decentralized fashion on an album and released them as NFTs. They established innovative new value flows that ensured all contributors were fairly compensated through a base UBI and token streaming of revenues according to individual ownership share in the overall project.
Metalabel drops collaborative releases in a similar manner to Songcamp—each item transparently discloses upfront costs to be recouped and then how remaining funds are distributed amongst contributors and the treasury to fund future releases.
We see potential for growth in multiplayer creation and collective incentive design. As these creator networks scale and become more open, new players entering can tap into their favorite creator libraries to compose new experiences for their audiences.
Our aim is to lower the barrier for creators to unlock personalized experiences for their communities—essentially moving creator mode from single to multiplayer.
Our multi-sided marketplace helps creators to monetize their passion while retaining ownership over their creations. The first product phase of Crowdmuse will house the following components:
Creator-led drops with our network of digi-physical fashion designers and partners
No-code deployment of product NFTs that split proceeds back to creators involved
Product drop showcases on the Crowdmuse marketplace and creator storefronts
As our next phase of product iteration is underway, we are excited to open up our waitlist for a chance to be one of the first creators featured on Crowdmuse, where you can drop co-created product NFTs direct-to-your-community.
When the internet enabled the second iteration of the creator economy, consumer behavior started shifting away from unconscious consumerism to personalized experiences. Influencers curate products and services that reflect their lifestyle and values, and consumers gravitate towards experiences that they resonate with. Although brands are perceived to be at the forefront of consumer experiences, it is often the creators tapped into prevailing memes in society that drive their success—Virgil Abloh’s reimagination of Louis Vuitton’s identity is a pertinent example.
The third iteration of the creator economy comes full circle to the Renaissance. These days artists had an esteemed role in society and the ability to focus solely on their passion. Web3 tooling brings the promise of freeing up creators from the busywork of ensuring the viability of their brands and communities whilst enabling them to retain intellectual property rights. Creators will once again be able to focus on what they do best: create.