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The “network effect” in the streaming landscape is extremely powerful. The more users that platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify acquire, the more valuable they become and the more leverage they gain over content creators.
By the same token, these major streaming platforms are only as good as their content. Without compelling videos published on YouTube or talented artists uploading their music to Spotify, these platforms wouldn’t attract users.
So if the platforms and creators are seemingly co-dependent, why do the platforms, not the artists, hold the most power? The platforms make deals with advertisers and formulate the algorithms that determine how much creators earn (pennies by comparison). Meanwhile, creators are kept in the dark with platforms leveraging a lack of transparency to benefit themselves.
This highlights the need for a new content ecosystem that accurately rewards creators for their contributions and introduces much-needed transparency for all participants. The best way to achieve such a system is to leverage blockchain technology, which enables transparent data tracking, accurate attribution of actions, and decentralized distribution of rewards.
Why platforms aren’t giving creators what they need
Anyone can upload a video to YouTube, but can that person monetize on that upload? Unless you’re a big celebrity with a huge following that also does ad-friendly content, the revenue stream for the majority of creators remains extremely low. On Spotify, for example, an artist’s fan base might increase due to exposure and free streaming, but artists are making infinitesimally less money on a per-stream basis than they would by selling an equivalent number of albums.
Charlotte Hassan of Digital Music News reported,
“A per-stream play in Spotify pays between $0.00121 and $0.00653, depending on whether the song is streamed in the ad-supported version or premium. So, to actually earn a decent amount of money from Spotify, an artist’s song has to rack up a serious number of streams, which is usually only possible for major artists.”
Beyond rocky monetization streams, artists are frustrated with the free streaming aspect. Charlotte went on to say that artists like, “Taylor Swift famously pulled her music from Spotify, along with Adele and several others, based on the feeling that their art is valuable and that free streaming devalues that art.”
Creators are never put first
Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms always put their own interests first, so creators’ needs are often neglected. Additionally, not all creators are given equal opportunities. Only a tiny fraction of producers are able to sell or license their content to Facebook to appear on a Watch page. According to a Mashable article,
“Many creators believe that the company’s algorithm favors Watch show pages, even if Facebook says otherwise.”
Because of this, Watch show pages are in high-demand by creators who don’t have the opportunity to become partners with Facebook, resulting in a black market where creators can purchase Watch show pages – “A Watch show page can fetch thousands of dollars on social media account sales forums, regardless of how many followers the show page has,” per the same Mashable article. With a growing sense of urgency for creators to make the money they deserve for their content, we are in need of a solution.
What’s the solution?
There is a path to a new ecosystem – an ecosystem where creators can reap the rewards from their contributions and where network growth benefits all stakeholders. This highlights the opportunity for blockchain to be used as the underlying technology that will enable a power shift from the platforms to a more equitable playing field where all parties are aligned. Blockchain technology can form the backbone for a new content ecosystem that accurately tracks creator contributions and distributes token rewards in-line with those contributions. As more creators join the platform, they will attract more users, and therefore more rewards to go around. It’s time to put power back in the hands of creators, who are the driving force bringing users to these platforms.
Martin Floreani, CEO and founder of Rokfin, a creator-first subscription media company and the world’s only digital platform that rewards content creators for the full value they generate.