The “1,000 True Fans”
In 2008, when the world was experiencing the subprime mortgage crisis, Kevin Kelly published an article, “1000 True Fans”. The timeless article wraps up the creator economy perfectly. Kelly said that you only needed 1,000 real fans and produce your content around them. With this mindset, you can get the equivalent of a full-time job. This notion has given countless creators the confidence to build their own fan base and to dig for the true value within the creators’ economy.
In the past quarter-century, the internet has evolved into something our parents and grandparents had never foreseen when it first came out. The term “creator” is now a common description for any user with an online profile and some decent content skills. After all, we have experienced the growth and decline of giant companies, from the newest superpowers to the ones who pioneered this industry. Companies like Myspace, Facebook, Friendster, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok. And undoubtfully Google, who has indexed billions of content and used their search engine algorithm to become the largest technology company in the world.
What’s Next For Creators?
Has Kevin Kelly’s prediction come true? Are creators refining the monetization of their content catering to the smaller, more devoted audiences? The creator economy seems to have undoubtedly proved to be the most prosperous industry. But, are the creators really making a profit? We can take a closer look at any creator platform today and only a few creators get enough attention. These few may fall on the 1% who actually “make it”. On some platforms, such as Tiktok, maybe 0.1% of creators. Even the creators who are being successful in this TikTok medium can’t earn enough income to maintain a decent life.
The successful listing of FB and Google has indeed cultivated tens of millions of billionaires, and few of them are creators. But for other content platforms, the move to digital content is not correlated with a burgeoning long tail. The biggest creators are massively successful, while long-tail creators are barely getting by. On Spotify, for instance, the top 43,000 artists—roughly 1.4% of those on the platform—pull in 90% of royalties and make, on average, $22,395 per artist per quarter. The rest of its 3 million creators, or 98.6% of its artists, made just $36 per artist per quarter.
Where lays the problem? Why can’t the creators who helped build this industry get enough income like those startups did, and are still worrying about the next month’s rent?
Google Quantum Supremacy
When a company proudly, even arrogantly, proactively announces itself as the absolute lead in a certain field, no one will associate it with a startup that once touted “Don’t be evil”. Oddly enough, they are the same company.
In the past of technology, what we have seen is more control and prejudice. The content supervision of the Internet in recent years has especially proved this. Let’s review the history of Internet content development. We temporarily use the industry-wide division method: The era of web 1.0, the readable Internet, where editors would write the content and user participation is very low.
The era of Web2.0 gave birth to the readable and writable Internet. At this time, a large number of content creators entered the epoch-making work of Internet content creation. However, almost 20 years have passed since the birth of the first-generation Web2.0 product blogger. The Internet seemed lost in the affairs of giant companies who snatched users’ attention and the rise and fall of stock prices. It is no longer the core of the industry narrative, but these giant companies have taken control of “the narrative”.
The Endless Printing Money Industry
You may have heard that the Federal Reserve is printing money faster and faster. In the two years from 2020 to 2021, it printed 40% of the historical US dollar issuance. It means that you are fortunate enough to experience the craziest era of money-printing inflation in the history of the United States. The future is unknown, but this is the largest currency issuance in history. This inevitably makes us rethink the nature of the currency. Countless financial textbooks define modern currency as a kind of credit that is traded. Then, why is the strongest dollar in the world reducing its value in the past two years? Not to mention the credit of the currencies of other countries.
Creators use labor in exchange for U.S. dollars, and U.S. dollars continue to increase circulation. The most frustrating part is not that we know that this frenzy printing will continue, but that we don’t know when it will stop and how much they will print? There must be something wrong with this. One person’s work can be exchanged for a green paper that can be issued unlimitedly? It’s certainly a scary notion of power to think about.
Abiding To An Unstable Rulebook
What makes things more complicated is that as a content creator, you have to rely on a platform, whether it is Facebook or TikTok, to approve your content. What you create is under the restriction of the so-called “community guidelines” of this platform. Rules may change and readjust and if you’re not paying attention, these platforms could delete your content and ban youaccount. It’s not the best look if you still have thousands or even tens of thousands of fans and suddenly all your content disappears. You can still retrieve your content from a snapshot of a website, but most of the time, it “disappears”, as if it didn’t exist in this world. Most importantly, what you are really losing is the time and effort you put into building up value in your content.
The Introduction of Web3.0
Web2.0 was born about 20 years ago, but there was always something missing. Web3.0 is here to change everything. Web3.0 is based on the readable and writable Internet of web2.0, but the difference is that it can now be owned. For the first time, as a creator, you can own your own media. A few examples:
- Own the content itself
- The economy of owning this platform is simply the platform’s digital currency or creators issuing scarce NFTs
- Own the right to formulate the rules of the platform
- Own the content platform
The operating mechanism of Web3.0 is essentially different from that of Web2.0. The fundamental source of this difference lies in the decentralized construction of Web3.0. The ideal web3.0 runs by programmable code on the blockchain to ensure that a series of executions work in accordance with a predetermined design plan. A single company or individual is not the main decision-maker, the users are.
For example, your content can be published on IPFS (which is a system where you can securely access information, content, and websites without the concern of third parties owning it) to ensure that no one can delete it. Or, your content could receive an automatic token incentive from the platform, and these tokens may grow their value as the platform grows. And of course, you don’t have to worry about the unlimited issuance of currency. For additional currencies, the smart contract will clearly define the issuance rules and you will become aware of its limits.
It’s 2022 and everything has changed. It seems that the development of the past 20 years is the prelude to today’s Web3.0. Creators are looking for new platforms that can protect their rights, and the scale of creators has reached an unprecedented scale. In terms of volume, creators are not simply publishing content, they are obtaining the expression of their own value, and can even get the benefits of their own potential value very early on. The web3.0 social platform meets all these needs. Just like Reddit Co-founder, Alexis Ohanian said: “In five years, 90% of people won’t play a game unless they are being property valued for that time and everyone will participate in a DAO.”
Tokens & NFTs Are The Future
In the traditional economic system, only companies have the right to issue their own stocks. If your profits are good, you may be able to go to the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq for an IPO (an offering shares of a private corporation to the public in a new stock issuance). Creators are the core of the creator economy.
In the web3 system, creators issue their own digital currency to transform the traditional “sponsorship” model into a token economy that better reflects the value of creators. Just like a creator who is listed for trading through the issuance of tokens, or issuance of an NFT (stands for Non-Fungible Token and it means a single digital item that, unlike the currency, is not exchanged but owned or collected by one creator), can be sought after by fans, the value of the creator will be cashed out more through market mechanisms.
Today, tens of thousands of fans sponsor creators on Patreon, but they don’t receive any interaction back or even benefits in real-time. When you sponsor an unknown painter and purchase his limited edition NFT, after several years, when the painter turns from a nobody to a famous painter, the limited edition you once bought will reflect its value today. Therefore, selfless support turns into a smart investment.
Platform tokens and incentives For Creators
The tokens issued by the platform are also an important function of web3. This token can be similar to the US dollar we use daily, but the issuance is more restrained. Platform tokens are designed and issued in accordance with a predetermined contract. Generally, participants in a community can obtain a certain share of rewards through “labor”. Compared with traditional social, creators on FB don’t get any rewards when it comes to stock, but a web3 platform can get a certain share of tokens according to the contribution of creators and even other characters. It also owns a part of this platform. Here, you are not working for the platform, but creating for yourself.
The Dawn of DAO
DAOs (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations) have created a way to break the platform’s centralized control of creators, allowing creators to collaborate with each other and take back control of their own content. Combined with the incentive mechanism of the platform currency, the creators’ motivation comes from the platform currency, and the platform currency represents your voting power in the community. Users with greater contributions have greater voting rights and thus the power of making decisions.
A platform may require different types of DAOs. For example, a DAO responsible for the training needs to provide introductory training for new users in the community. A public relations DAO needs to seek external contacts and support for the development of the community. Web3 allows DAO’s actions to receive certain rewards to the creators. The creators receive these rewards through contracts or through voting rights and decision-making.
The Future Looks Bright
The whole puzzle seems to be complete. At this point in time, we have reason to believe that this is an era when great innovative products are born. “Be seen, be heard, and be valued” is our mission on Clapper. Now it seems clearer, given that the road of web3 is the way to the future. In the past year, Clapper’s 2 million users who have spread through the world are the foundation of this innovation. Today at the dawn of web3, we have the most solid foundation to rebuild the creator economy and build DAO, To build a creator token and NFT market for creators. We believe that the age where content is on top is coming, and we are in the dawn ready to make the most of it.