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Web 2.0 is often credited with ushering in many of the digital creative industries that have become prevalent today, and rightly so. Since the age of MySpace, digital creatives have found themselves awash with new ways to publish and even monetize their content and creations online.
However, as the market has become more crowded, it’s become more difficult for anyone to produce digital content to generate any meaningful revenue from their creations. Except for a small minority, most creators on platforms are making very little. For instance, it will take 23,000 Spotify streams or around 25,000 YouTube video views to break $100. Many spend hours curating their Instagram feed only for external sponsorship revenues.
Now, blockchain — specifically NFTs — is providing a new way for digital creators to monetize their content. The NFT market has now grown to $2.5 billion for the year, up 18,000% since last year. Despite doom talk of a bubble, the market remains buoyant as users and creators alike remain curious about this novel type of asset.
Kenzi Wang, a co-founder of Cere and general partner at AU21 Capital, thinks NFTs will be the next generation cookie. “Aside from qualities directly attributable to ownership, NFT’s allow creators to disperse their content to a much broader audience, growing the scope and recognition of their contributions,” Wang said. “Additionally, the increased liquidity of NFT’s allows their value to be perpetually updated. These advances directly address the greatest detriments of ‘real assets like artwork and creative content, as well as intellectual property and data.”
Attracting a global base of music fans
NFTs offer a kind of universal appeal, with multiple use cases and the ability for any creator of any size to get involved and create assets to sell even if they don’t have a massive brand or audience. One example is OneOf, a music-focused NFT platform offering zero minting costs for artists. The startup wants to attract the long tail of music fans. And the idea has traction even among big-name artists. Quincy Jones, John Legend, and Doja Cat are all signed up.
It seems that the idea of making digital collectibles more accessible to the masses may also be attracting the attention of even bigger players. A developer recently leaked some images which appear to imply that Instagram is developing a collectibles feature. To be clear, the news is entirely unconfirmed by Instagram. Still, given the intense hype around NFTs and the fact that Instagram continually comes under fire for its woeful monetization options, it’s plausible enough.
NFTs at the movies
Indie filmmakers are another segment of creatives who suffer significantly at the hands of big film studios and the stranglehold of streaming platforms such as Netflix. In particular, financing an independent production can be the biggest challenge, with filmmakers relying on a combination of grants, loans, outside investors, and traditional crowdfunding.
Mogul Productions was founded as a decentralized film financing (or DeFiFi) platform designed to help indie filmmakers get their projects off the ground. It features an NFT module that allows creators to mint their own digital movie collectibles that can be sold as part of a financing effort. The project recently hosted an event in which artist Rob Prior burned one of his own paintings, subsequently minted and sold as an NFT for over $182,000.
Indie film finance and production company Enderby recently confirmed it would be launching a new feature-length film starring Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins as an NFT. Called “Zero Contact,” the movie is set to drop on Vuele, a new marketplace focused on movie distribution.
Another example is Lotawana, a new indie movie that claims to be the first to be sold as an NFT. In this case, fans don’t buy NFTs to own a copy of the movie — they have the opportunity to buy part of the movie itself as an NFT. This opens up yet another new avenue of revenue for filmmakers, as they can sell shares of the future profits from their movies, blurring the lines between fans and investors.
The imagination is the only limit
“The move from physical to digital ownership is an immutable factor of our evolving world,” Wang said. “Prestigious art galleries are going online, intellectual property is shifting from blueprints to screens, and no existing asset class has been spared from the shift towards digitization. I see digital ownership as a supplement to physical ownership through the emergence of NFT’s and Metaverses.”
Digital creators in other niches are also joining the NFT wave and finding new ways to monetize. BudaCoin is a health and wellness-focused blockchain project that will launch the “first NFT marketplace devoted to digital assets related to mindfulness,” including art, guided meditations, calming music, and more.
If you need further inspiration, consider that the past few months have also seen NFTs for Grillo’s Pickles, a tennis player’s elbow, and even a fragrance. It’s clear that when it comes to monetizing digital creations, the imagination is the only limit. Thanks to the ongoing evolution of Web3, the days of platforms dominating user content monetization could be coming to an end. There’s never been a better time to be a digital creator and entrepreneur in the content space.