What’s next for the creator economy & its intersection with web3? 🧵
At a high level, we’re moving from a world in which creators made income on their own, to one in which they build wealth together with their communities.
The creator economy isn’t new, but it’s constantly evolving. We’re now in what I consider to be the 3rd era of the creator economy, and on the cusp of the 4th.
Creator economy 1.0: UGC The rise of social media platforms & UGC content made every internet user into a creator. Livejournal was founded in 1999, MySpace in 2003, FB 2004, Twitter 2006.
Creator economy 2.0: The rise of the “influencer” Some creators built large audiences, which they monetized largely through ads & brand deals. In 2007, Youtube launched the Partner program, allowing channels to run ads & earn money.
Creator economy 3.0 (today): Direct monetization from users Creators seek to become independent businesses, and are adding direct monetization to get more independence from social media platforms. Multi-SKU earnings direct from fans across courses, subscriptions, tipping, etc.
The future: Creator economy 4.0: Ownership Lines between fans & creators blur into community ownership, and the nature of what being a creator is changes and reflects new incentives.
Let’s start with where the creator economy is today (era 3.0). – In the past 3 years, YouTube has paid out $30B to 2M+ creators – Creators’ cultural impact is eclipsing that of traditional media. Top YT videos have 5-9B views each; by contrast, NBC primetime gets 4M viewers
– Serious money is going towards retaining and attracting creators: TikTok is paying creators $2B in the next 3 years. Facebook, YouTube, Snap, and Pinterest also rolled out their own creator funds.
At a higher level, web2 platforms also don’t enable creators to have independence and ownership of their content.
Right now, crypto’s killer feature for creators is monetization through digital scarcity. Web3 is enabling transformative new ways for creators to monetize & engage their audiences.
Some prominent successes: – @muratpak’s single grey pixel sold for $1.3 million at Sotheby’s – @justinaversano’s Twin Flames photography NFT collection has seen sales upwards of 500 ETH – @artblocks_io trading volume over $400 million in August. Ringers #109 went for $6.9M
Let’s take a moment to appreciate that these numbers that are UNHEARD OF in the web2 world for a creator’s work. Most partner channels on Youtube earn between $0.30 to $2.50 per 1,000 views. A creator selling 1 NFT for 1 ETH = 4 million views on a Youtube video
What’s going on? By tokenizing their work, NFTs have made creators’ work comparable to fine art, re-introducing scarcity that fans desire and which benefits creators. It’s like a return to what art was before the age of infinite digital reproduction and zero marginal costs.
Excitingly, a lot of creators opt to keep their earnings in crypto vs. cashing out to fiat, dip their toes into DeFi, collect other artists’ NFTs, and purchase other assets, kickstarting a flywheel of growing wealth.
This all is an extension of & turbo-charging of creator economy 3.0, which is creators as independent businesses. It’s early days, but the new monetization capabilities for creators via crypto can be life-changing.
Turning our attention to the future, what’s in store ahead for the creator economy? Creator economy 4.0 is the ownership economy.
The ownership economy is the idea that in the future, all platforms will be built, operated, and owned by their users. Imagine being rewarded with tokens for using a platform, proportional to usage or value driven.
This is a shift from independence—creators as their own islands—to inter-dependence amongst a decentralized community.
Creators will build together with their communities, blurring the line between creator and audience. We’re starting to see this today. Examples: @nounsdao, @PleasrDAO, @lootproject. Who’s the ‘creator’ vs. ‘audience’? That distinction fades in relevance.
Shared upside and exposure to the efforts of the group, via tokens, creates all sorts of incentive alignment and rewards new ‘creators’ who previously had been unseen or under-valued.
You can imagine that some new lucrative roles/jobs will emerge when there’s shared ownership. Most of these were historically unseen/unrewarded: curators, evangelists, fan club leaders, meme page admins, etc. This is the future of work.
Importantly, this portends a change in the nature of what a creator even is, from creating static media to cultivating communities. What we think of as a “creator” today is a direct reflection of the games that web2 invented; with new games, success as a creator looks different.
Being a creator shifts from being a cult leader (top down) to being a core contributor to a community (flatter hierarchy with accountability).
Just as each new successive era of the creator economy is additive to and supplements pre-existing ones, creator economy 4.0 is the same. It doesn’t replace previous eras, but is another option that presents new opportunities for collaboration & earning.
Over time, crypto will get better at helping creators build audiences and reaching new ones. Blockchains are akin to newsfeeds that lack an interface.
In the coming months, I expect many more experiments with content/media DAOs, collector DAOs, social tokens, decentralized social networks, and other emerging models. It’s an exciting time for the creator economy!