One of the most revolutionary features of blockchain technology is the ability to deal in micropayments. This means paying and charging people in small fractions of dollars, even hundredths of a fraction of a cent. When a typical fee for a credit card transaction can be about 30-cents, dealing with thousandths of a cent isn’t worth it, or even possible.
The decentralized nature of blockchain can put the control of your content back into your hands. Not only would creators be able to easily monetize their efforts, content curators would also get a micro-slice of the pie. With current systems like YouTube’s ad revenue, only those creators/curators with massive followings receive a meaningful amount as profit. With blockchain, almost all of that money would go directly to the artist, or the user who shared the content.
There are several companies out there currently trying to build a business model off these ideals. Credsign is an on-chain blogging platform, built off Ethereum. Creators would be able to store their blog posts in the blockchain, with a 1,000-word post costing about 14-cents to store. What you’d be paying for is hosting on a system that no one-person holds the keys to, as well as the knowledge your words are forever locked into the blockchain. This is similar to current social news service Steem.it. They’re built on their own blockchain; they’re part blogging site, and part decentralized social network.
When Cameron Hejazi, creator of Credsign, was asked who he expects to use this service, he said:
“Right now we're looking for the same people found in crypto-related subreddits to publish on the platform. We think they'll value a censorship-resistant, forever-accessible hosting platform. Soon, we'll enable the community to curate content on the platform via stake voting. Stake voting associates monetary value (stake) with information and we believe this will provide better curation than the one-vote-per-account model. This approach also enables a speculative market to exist around the future value of information. For instance, if a topic has $1000 in stake votes today, how much might it have tomorrow? Such an outcome can be predicted and traded on using a market protocol such as Augur. Publishers can also participate in this, and by way of publishing give themselves an edge in the market; and an opportunity for profit.”
Another project, Userfeeds, is a content ranking and reputation system. They use Ethereum to create tokens to allow curators to promote content from established sites like Twitter or Facebook, and profit from sharing the content that becomes popular. Unlike Facebook, where what you pay attention to is based on your social links (i.e. – your friends), Userfeeds’ content would be delivered based on cryptoeconomic links. For example, you could see content from others who own the same tokens as you do. This is based off their idea that web 3.0 will, in large part, revolve around the burgeoning cryptoeconomy of digital currencies.
The thought is, through micropayments, creators aren’t the only ones being incentivized to share content, curators would also receive compensation for sharing quality work. Sites utilizing micropayments would enable content curators to be paid proportionally to how popular the things they share become. So even if only a handful of users are actively engaging in the content you’re propagating, you’d still receive small rewards for your effort.
This stands in contrast to sites like Soundcloud, where if you want to monetize your content, you’d have to become a Premier Partner. Though the average artist on Soundcloud wouldn’t actually be able to do this. If you’re not working with a music label who’s already a partner, there’s a backlog for independent artists to sign up for a Premier account. Much like with YouTube’s revenue sharing model, Premier is only available to the most high-traffic accounts on Soundcloud.
That’s the beauty of blockchain, and its democratizing effects: the middleman, often a major corporation, is cut out. Creators should be able to be directly rewarded for the quality content they release, which is the idea behind Ujo. Ujo, set to launch in 2017, is a music service that aims to put artists in control of their revenue streams. They are building an open music ecosystem on Ethereum that would help artists to own and control their works, and help them share their value with fans. A decentralized platform like this would ensure artist ownership of their music, as well as allow for easy payments, that go directly to the musician. A fan could literally directly support their favorite artist, and be sure a major corporation isn’t pocketing an absurd amount of their financial support. When selling through a common service like iTunes, Apple takes a 30% cut of your profits. That’s a large chunk when you’re only getting $0.99 per track.
Digital currency, like Ether, makes it easy to share incredibly small denominations. This makes it possible to monetize almost anything. The internet of the future won’t only make it easy to pay anyone for their contributions, it will likely be the new way things are done.