The Creator Economy is the onramp to Web 3.0 and the metaverse. Let’s call it Web 2.5. We are still largely reliant on centralized platforms but shifting toward a new paradigm, where control and ownership shift from the platforms to creators and consumers.
In Web 2.0, creators are largely reliant on brand sponsorship and advertising for their income. While creators own their copyrights, the minute we share intellectual property on a social platform, we lose control of it, and we certainly aren’t compensated by the platforms even though they monetize it. The platform Terms-of-Service allow them to use it pretty much as they wish within the platform, and once shared, we have minimal control over how it gets shared onward. Even with content hosted on our own websites — where we have not extended a license to a platform — enforcing our intellectual property rights can be time consuming and costly.
The blockchain, the foundational technology of Web 3.0, disrupts this paradigm, and promises to return control of our content to creators and our consumption to consumers. Blockchain powers the transaction via cryptocurrency, manages the ownership /usage rights to content via NFTs, eliminates the middle layer, and creates the marketplace whereby both creator and consumer can directly benefit from popularity or scarcity. Today — limited edition digital art. Someday? First edition novels. Memberships. Limited run video content.
What does the Web 2.5 onramp look like? What are some of the forces/technologies driving us toward Web 3.0
- Subscription services like Patreon, Substack and Only Fans where consumers can support their favorite content creators [side note — always pay attention to what the adult industry does as they HAVE to push the envelope to stay ahead of the censors]
- Creator programs within the big platforms (YT, IG, TikTok) to keep creators “in the family”
- Increasing value of first-party audiences (subscribers, website visitors etc) resulting from the anticipated deprecation of the cookie
- Paypal, Venmo and Zelle make it easier to pay and be paid
- Content management systems which store the content separately from the format in which it is displayed, powering things like RSS that make it easier to share content
- Podcast directories (Spotify, iTunes, Google) that let us subscribe to our favorite podcast regardless of where it is hosted
All of these things are getting us ready for the paradigm shift.
We are still very much in the early adopter phase when it comes to Web 3.0, and specifically the period that marketers refer to as the Chasm (Moore, 1991), and the move from early adopters to early majority. Change is scary, and paradigm shifts even more so. What do we have to address to cross the chasm?
(Image borrowed from Crossing the Chasm – A Quick Summary)
I think we start with 3 things.
- Simplicity — It’s all very complicated, at least to the average consumer. With so much jargon. We need to make things much simpler and easier to understand.
- Security– We rely on central authority to maintain order as much as, if not more than, we distrust big business, financial institutions, and governments. The appeal of decentralization is offset by the fear that no one is in charge, that there are no controls. Block chain is its own policing agent but it’s hard for people to understand how.
- Sustainability– Blockchain is computationally resource heavy. It needs big computers and lots of electricity to complete the underlying complex calculations that validate transactions. Bitcoin mining (the process of creating new blocks for the Bitcoin blockchain) is well known for its negative environmental impact. Newer currencies use a different technique, but there is a lot of jargon and everything is a bit obscure. This complexity inevitably leads will lead to consumer confusion, which means that Providers need to tell their sustainability story clearly and upfront.
The first point — Simplicity – is the key to crossing the chasm into mainstream adoption.