There won’t be a Goddamn creator economy if we don’t invest directly in creators.
The creator economy won't exist without creators.
There are too many people building platforms and not enough people investing directly in the people who make art; and if we don't support the creatives, there won't be any more creative work to consume. Let's be honest; it's not that easy to make money as an artist. I know what the fuck I’m talking about. While I was learning to code, I was learning to play the bass, and long before I became a tech journalist, I was crowded into a beat down utility, touring and playing shows. I’ve produced on a multi platinum record here in Aus. I know what it’s like out there.
I get what you're thinking: "But I've already supported an artist on Patreon/Drip/Bandcamp!" That's great, but it's not necessarily a sustainable model to expect creators to make a living and survive on monthly tips. In some circumstances, it can work. There is a cast of thousands who cannot do more than eke out a small monthly stipend. It's simply not enough.
And let me tell you something else: We are all already paying for content on platforms like Facebook or Youtube via advertising dollars which go directly back into funding those companies' growth plans instead of artists' careers. So why aren't we taking this money away from these big tech monopolies who hold all our data hostage?
What I propose is simple.
Establishing an ecosystem of venture based funding for artists in the same way we fund startups.
Supporting artists by enabling and funding their transition to tokenized creativity.
I'm not just talking about supporting creators with platforms, tools, and protocols; I'm talking about tangibly investing in them financially and in their careers. I’m talking about establishing decentralized funds that exist solely to invest in artists directly, in exchange for a cut of residuals and returns on their work. I’m talking about a venture system for artists.
If you want more creators making stuff for your platform of choice, then consider giving them a reason to continue doing the thing they love by actually supporting them financially with actual investments and allocations.
Creative work is an expression of the human spirit. It's also a form of self-expression. The way we see the world and how we want to be seen by others is also reflected in our creative work. It's inherently personal.
Creative work has a value that extends beyond just money or "likes." Creation can unite people through shared experiences, feelings of empathy/understanding/connection; it builds communities and bridges demographics through communication.
When compared with grandiose concepts like decentralized finance, AI, space-tech, talking about music streaming royalties may seem trivial - but look at what happens when you take away an artist's ability to survive: they lose their voice (literally). Artistic freedom suffers because there will always come when artistic integrity must yield to financial survival if things don't change. And without the arts, the space opera antics of billionaires in incumbent economic systems will pale in the cold light of utilitarian emptiness.
NFTs allow us to give value to the things we own so they aren't just data floating around on servers somewhere - they become valuable assets that can exist outside of a platform you don't control. Buying an MP3 has given way to streaming music on Spotify, in an exchange that presents artists with a microscopic fraction of a cent for every play, in a mechanism that deliberately devalues art to fix pricing structures in a way that will justify a SaaS fee. If you can instead buy a lossless audio file as a token, unlocking community access and a creator-audience relationship, and giving you the ability to on-sell your assets in a secondary market that continues to support the creator through residuals - the benefits to the creator economy are enormous.
And it's not just about the creator benefits, either: think how much more meaningful your life might be if you could actually own some of the things that have been integral to your identity. This is what gets me excited about crypto - this ability for people anywhere to participate in a global marketplace that treats everyone equally and doesn't discriminate on who can or cannot get on board because they don't have access to traditional finance infrastructure. It's an ecosystem where we all support each other through shared value systems instead of having everything mediated by profit-driven corporations with their hands out asking us for our attention/data/loyalty so they can sell it back to advertisers.
Tokenized artworks and experiences are a new asset class that allows us to tokenize the things we own, giving them value outside of just data floating around on servers somewhere. They become valuable assets that can exist outside of platforms you don't control. And creators represent a substantial investment that can allow for a foundation for long-term careers, creative independence, and residuals that aren't chipped away at by platforms, middlemen, and unbalanced contracts that brutalize the creativity at the heart of their work.
Let's support artists and their work: decentralized or not. If we want more of it, let's give them a reason to keep making stuff for us by supporting the people who make art - because they're genuinely irreplaceable.