Web3 can do a lot of things. Removing intermediaries; bridging the gap between physical and digital; bringing artists and fans closer together; supporting player-centric and user-owned economies. You name it, web3 has been touted as its possible savior or accelerator.
The hype around web3, with its promise of disintermediation, greater value capture, and true ownership, is understandable. The reality, when measured in terms of transformative web3 products, is more nuanced. If web3 is the future of networking, finance, recreating, and everything else, it’s a future that isn’t evenly distributed.
DeFi? It started out promisingly but a lack of innovation in new use cases coupled with a crypto bear market has caused stagnation. GameFi? It should get there, but at present web3 games are underwhelming and the token economies unsustainable, forcing Play-to-Earn imagineers to return to the drawing board.
And then we have those web3 use cases that don’t lend themselves so well to a ‘Fi’ suffix. Take fan power for example. (FanFi?) The sports, music, and entertainment industries are powered by hundreds of millions of fans whose loyalty and spending allow artists to flourish. Here, web3 has the potential to disintermediate, funneling more revenue to small artists while enabling fans to forge closer ties with their favorite stars.
Given the billions of dollars that flow through it, the consumer economy has the potential to do more for web3 and vice-versa than GameFi and DeFi combined. As with all things web3, however, there are a few kinks to be ironed out before the consumer economy is ready to receive the web3 treatment at scale. A number of enterprising startups are attempting to do just that. If they succeed in their quest, the upside is huge – but there are no guarantees that the masses will pile in.
Content creators have long held a love-hate relationship with the platforms that made them. YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter et al have made stars of the web’s funniest, most talented, and meme-worthy creators. But for every Jake Paul who transcends the platform that spawned them, there are thousands who struggle to scrape a living.
It’s no secret that web2 platforms assign the lion’s share of their rewards to the top 1%, leaving the long tail of creators to fight for the scraps. Great if you’re Taylor Swift; not so great if you’re a struggling Spotify artist with 10,000 plays a month. The solution – provided it can be engineered in a frictionless manner – is for creators to engage directly with their “superfans” who are only too willing to pay extra for a personalized service and the attentions of their favorite artist.
For web3-native musicians, this has meant experimenting with NFTs and exclusive drops of new material on platforms like Sound.xyz. For mainstream creators, including vloggers, bloggers, and podcasters, a number of more consumer-friendly solutions are being proffered. Chief among these is Snapmuse.io.
The web3 platform helps content creators monetize their YouTube channels, allowing them to forge closer connections with fans. Like Sound.xyz, Snapmuse.io uses NFTs that fans can collect to become a partner of their fave content creator’s channel and enjoy the benefits this bestows. Content creators can look forward to stronger community support and the freedom to focus on growing their channel with less worries about making rent. It’s a win-win for all parties.
While YouTubers are an obvious market for web3, they are by no means the only consumer-facing industry that’s ripe for disruption. Authors are also discovering the benefits of being able to interact directly with their readers, whose high engagement enables them to crowdfund new novels and to award exclusive content to their most devoted readers.
Podcasters have of course long known about the benefits of harnessing fan power – particularly their spending power – through web2 platforms such as Patreon. Web3 takes this model and applies a layer of censorship resistance, ensuring that those creators whose work is too edgy for web2’s tech overlords can still monetize. More than that, however, web3 is particularly suited to micropayments, such as for live streams when fans can reward creators in real-time for entertainment rendered.
It may be the case that not all of the use cases envisioned for web3 come to fruition. But even if the movement fails to bank the unbanked and usher in a new era of onchain gaming, it will make its mark in other ways as web3 quietly takes over the creator economy.
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