The Future of the Creator Economy in a Web3 World

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The creator economy is driving innovation across all sectors, changing definitions of work and providing breakthrough revenue streams. This software-based economy allows people to earn money by producing content through photos, videos or music.

The creator economy is a booming industry, which has only skyrocketed during the pandemic: technological innovation over the past decade has amplified the possibilities of the industry. On the front-end, different platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Cameo have billions of users worldwide and have provided content creators with impressive revenue streams. Behind the creator economy, supporting tools like Patreon and Kajabi make it easier for creators to produce better content.

In recent months, there has been an emergence of industry-specific social platforms, even in traditional sectors. For instance, Theater launched “TikTok for Real Estate” where users can browse real estate listing videos; hammer allows construction workers to showcase their own construction projects on their app.

The creator economy is changing definitions of work, but it too will undergo transformations with the rise of Web3.

Changing job definitions

The growing ability of creators to monetize their content has forced fundamental shifts in what “work” looks like. The creator economy, as we know it today, has gone through three phases of evolution:

Phase 1: Traditional Economy

In its purest form, work as understood unilaterally as work for a larger organization. In this representation, employees retain little autonomy over the type of work they do and how they do it. Historically, this is how most people approach work.

Phase 2: economy of the gig

The gig economy has emerged and exploded in recent years. In this economy, employees can do smaller, more manageable tasks on an ad hoc basis, like working as a food delivery boy. Although this work model has improved employee flexibility and autonomy, most workers are still highly dependent on their employers.

Phase 3: Creator Economy

The creator economy represents a secular shift. In a creator economy, creators do not need a parent company to act as an employer; they are able to work when they want, produce the content they like, and have complete autonomy over how they monetize their content. This new ownership structure is symbolic of a greater transfer of power in the employer-employee dynamic. During the first two economic phases, power resided almost entirely in the hands of the employer. The creator economy, on the other hand, allows individuals who create content to retain the power to own and manage their work.

The Creator Economy in a Web3 World

The tenets of the creator economy—ownership of labor, decentralization, and flexibility—took place alongside the emergence of the Web3. As the world moves closer to the next generation of the Internet over the next few years, expect to see a growing overlap between the creator economy and the Web3. Here’s what it might look like:

Creator-Owned Content and Platforms

Creator-owned content is the first iteration of the Web3 creator economy. On current social platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, the company behind the platform owns the content produced by the creators. Web3 will allow creators to not only own their contents on existing social platforms, but also owning some of the Platform they produce and distribute content on. Content can begin to be creator-owned and platform-independent through the use of NFTs, which act as proof of ownership and validate the authenticity of content.

In the future, creators could own and rule platforms they interact with based on factors such as their following and content quality. This could be made possible through DAOs, member-owned organizations with no centralized direction or governance power. “Ownership” of the social platform would be represented by tokens distributed to creators based on their relevance and impact on the platform.

Metaverse platforms created by creators

Creators will also play a key role in the metaverse. In addition to participating in that, creators can develop parts of the metaverse with no-code tools or technical training. This has already started to take shape in existing gaming metaverses, including Roblox. On Roblox, anyone can create video games and monetize them directly on the platform. In 2020 alone, creators earned $329 million from Roblox alone. “Metaverse creators” will likely become an active and profitable vertical of the creator economy in the years to come.

While the intersection of the creator economy and Web3 is still nascent and its future uncertain, if executed well, the ethics of Web3 and emerging technologies could have massive implications – not just for creators, but for the future of work as a whole.

Best case scenario: Web3 will create a world where people can make a living producing work that they directly own without the reliance on centralized third-party organizations that exist today.

Nobu Iguchi is co-founder and managing partner at Agya Ventures.

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