Looking back over the last two decades, it’s amazing how the Internet has radically changed the way we access and share creative content.
In the late nineties, we realized the music we consumed digitally could easily be emailed to friends or shared online. In the Internet era, the consumers became the distributors, leading to applications like Napster in 1999. This led to the Piracy Era of the 00’s, where downloading music, movies, e-books, software and games from sites like Megaupload, Rapidshare and Pirate Bay went mainstream. As with some other activities of a promiscuous nature, there was always the risk of acquiring a virus, but opportunity knocked with free stuff, so we readily took the chance. This resulted in revenue declines for creative industries, especially music and film.
In the 2010’s, entrepreneurs tried to fix the situation by creating streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. You can get nearly all the content you’re looking for on a well designed and easy to use platform. Sure, you don’t own the content you stream, but the monthly fees are low, it’s convenient and your computer won’t get sick. A bargain, really.
While it may be the golden age of content consumption, there is a serious downside. Platforms are making a killing but most creators are stranded on the outside looking in, having traded analog dollars for digital pennies. The current content delivery platforms distribute payouts that are miniscule compared to the value derived from the use of the work. For example:
- $4000 USD per 1,000,000 times a song is streamed on Spotify
- $1750 USD per 1,000,000 views on YouTube
- $5000 USD per 1,000,000 pages read on Kindle Unlimited
There’s another problem. Many content delivery platforms allow anyone to upload content and broadcast it to the world. How is that problem, you may ask? Well, if it’s your own content and you own the rights to it, it isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, a lot of fans upload content that they don’t hold the rights to. It’s like this: if you don’t own the content, it’s not really yours to share, or profit from. Sure, it may seem flattering for a fan to take the time to share a work with the world but ask any creator: they love it that you love their work, but they’d take compensation over a “compliment” any day.
In theory, the application of blockchain technology to creative works provides a sound opportunity to address this issue. For this to happen we need to approach content delivery with the interests of creators and their audiences – not mega-platforms – in mind. The technologies of tomorrow won’t solve the issues for creators if we don’t put them first today. Essentially, we need to change the compensation paradigm.
Let’s be clear: while we’re focused on a creator-centred model, there’s a whole ecosystem developing and it’s going to benefit content users – audiences – too. Imagine it: your favourite author uses blockchain and attribution technology to upload a new book. You buy it. You love it. You recommend it to a friend. If your friend buys the book, you would receive a portion of the funds along with other rightsholders. Immediately. Win-win. This is why Prescient exists. We’re bringing a creator-centred perspective to the next phase of the internet’s evolution. It’s important we get this right so that creators can see that their work is valued and receive their due compensation. We believe most consumers want to support the creators they love. Someone just needs to put the right tools in place to make this happen. Why not us?