We’re in the midst of a sea change right now, the likes of which we could never have predicted. Remote work is the new normal, our identities have been absorbed into a distributed universe of data, and every single one of us has the tools to make — and monetize — what we create.
First, we built software to create and host our work online; then we built out the internet’s infrastructure into Web 2.0, to create new opportunities for sharing these creations; and today we are witnessing a groundswell of tools, services, and communities dedicated to helping companies and creators protect, sell, and distribute their work securely and affordably.
The sheer volume of innovation is staggering, so Collective Intelligence Labs put together a report on today’s creator economy. Below are some of the highlights.
Future of NFTs
By now, the NFT boom is large enough to be seen from space. From the moment that non-fungible tokens first started to gain popularity in 2018, they have grown astonishingly: the current market cap for cryptoart is 269,493.307 ETH. At the moment of writing, that’s $1,164,650,361.28 — with almost 2 million artworks sold to date. Let’s see Sotheby’s beat that!
For artists and creators just waking up to the trend, this might seem like a daunting figure, and one in which it’s easy to get lost. Thankfully, cryptoart marketplaces like OpenSea and incubators like Snark.art are there to make the development and distribution process one of growth and community building.
From the hypebeast elites of the Bored Ape Yacht Club to accessible and quirky generative projects like Danil Krivoruchko and Michael Joo’s OG:Crystals, there is a wealth of precedent and inspiration for creating art that appeals to a far wider swath of buyers and collectors than the monolithic artworks of the past.
Take a look at the market cap, number of NFT artworks:
DeFi and DAOs
The groundwork for the exciting phenomenon of collective ownership NFTs was laid by two concepts at the core of the financial blockchain: Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO). These are concepts that use blockchain-based and cryptologically verified smart contracts to enable collective action in widely varied fields: from financial instruments and exchanges to creator-focused tools and services to democratize access to money.
DeFi tokens help to automate market processes, like currency arbitrage and creating liquidity pools, without the overhead of a financial institution. Popular applications include:
- Decentralized exchanges, which allow users to perform transactions without the risks of intermediary companies
- Stablecoins like Tether, which are indexed to fiat currencies as an alternative to more volatile market-leading currencies
- Prediction markets, which offer an alternative to legally questionable betting platforms
The future promises even more in this field.
For instance, Terra has created a range of stablecoins and payment systems that can break up the hegemony over money transfer enjoyed by companies like PayPal and Western Union. Meanwhile, Binance’s Binance Coin cuts the transaction fee (“gas”) required by more established cryptocurrency with rapidly growing chains by an order of magnitude.
Since DeFi began to see widespread use, almost $80 billion of capital has been contributed to DeFi protocols, with the total capitalization of decentralized finance projects standing at $1.5 billion, and in October 2021 total investments reached US $148 billion.
DAOs, meanwhile, are an alternative to traditional, top-down corporations. They are governed by transparent, collaboratively controlled code stored on the blockchain, and permit global collective action uninhibited by regulatory obstacles or national borders.
A recent exciting DAO project of note is ConstitutionDAO, a joint effort to purchase one of the 13 original copies of the United States Constitution by a citizens’ collective, saving it from a private, exorbitantly priced auction at Sotheby’s. Unfortunately, the effort failed in spite of raising more than $27 million in record time, but there is a silver lining: the equitable principles encoded into the DAO returned all of the investors’ money to them, essentially serving as a proof of concept for fair, decentralized crowdfunding based entirely on the blockchain.
Beyond NFTs: personal, community and social tokens
The worldwide shift toward the remote economy and life online over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of innovations to keep the world functioning, thriving, and growing in periods of mass isolation and restrictions on gathering to work and create in-person. Some of the most exciting such innovations leverage blockchain technologies to create new forms of communities for both established and new creators.
Personal tokens are a fascinating development, created to allow artists and public figures to tokenize followership and keep communities engaged in ways beyond traditional social media.
Take, for example, $RAC issued by Grammy Award-winning producer RAC along with Zora on the new Rally network. Token ownership gives fans early access to tickets, merch, NFTs and more, all while giving them the privileged status of early backers of an artist and their work. Some other notable personal tokens are $ALEX, created by Alex Masmei (of Showtime fame), Carlos Gomez’s $SWAGG and Brian Flynn’s $JAMM.
Community tokens do something similar for established groups, such as the PSG Fan Token for fans of Paris Saint Germain football club and the GG Strike Coin for fans of the popular Counter-Strike esports team. There are even social-platform tokens, offering fungible currency and governance features for existing platforms like Rally (the leading resource for creator coins) and Chiliz, the currency for the new Socios network.
Blockchain-based startups for creators
Perhaps the most exciting development for active creators, whether or not they are pivoting towards tokenized art or all-digital work, is the explosive growth in startups providing services tailored to them.
At the top of the list is DEIP, a Web 3.0 protocol that enables the discovery, evaluation, licensing, and exchange of intangible assets — like NFTs. This is essential to the growth of NFTs since their essence is their ability to take easily distributed digital items like artwork and establish proof of authenticity and ownership.
The advances extend into more established forms of online work, providing resources to boost the networking that makes social media tick. For example, a company called Pearpop ($4 million raised so far) helps connect creators to collaborators whom they might not have met, helping expand the scope and reach of the work they do through decentralized social networking. For enhancing market reach for both creators and their sponsors, startups like Pietra (for influencers) and Podcom (for podcasters) help companies that need audiences and artists that want to connect with new and exciting partners meet each other—again, all taking advantage of the blockchain’s capacity for smart contracts and verification. Finally, an exciting startup called Stir offers a payment network that helps creators pay their collaborators quickly and directly, without the expensive and time-consuming overhead of traditional payment systems like PayPal.
The future looks bright for creators
Though this has been a trying couple of years for the entire world, developments in Web3 technologies have been instrumental in providing all generations of working artists, creators, and makers the opportunities they need to thrive in these tough conditions and beyond, all in the name of creating the content and opportunities that our fast-paced and growing world desperately needs. Don’t miss your opportunity to get involved, make your mark and reap the benefits of catching this new wave — before it hits the mainstream!