We live in a world where influencers thrive on narratives. They build their persona, share their world-view, and offer a different type of entertainment to consumers. We are now in the middle of the attention economy.
The world of Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok, YouTube, Twitter all rely on the continuous scroll of consumers. This has led to some disastrous results, BTW. But it’s also given rise to on screen personas. Personas that would not exist on TV where advertisers pay. This is a world where people are getting tired of distant celebrities. They want to adore people who are more like them. People invest in the world these influencers build.
It’s D2C entertainment, and it’s no surprise that D2C brands have been sponsoring influencers to promote their products. Influencer marketing’s global market size increased from $1.7B in 2016 to $16.4B in 2022 at 46% CAGR !
But what got D2C brands here will not get them to the next level. The world of middlemen has not gone away. They may have lost some power, but they still exist. Walmart exists. Amazon exists. Low cost goods will never go out of need, because there is always someone who needs dollar savings. But are D2C brands ready to deal with the world of shelf space economics, Amazon pricing territories, and music label marketing budgets?
There’s a problem though. Producers have the choice to stick to their community or to go global. Today, these two do not have a geographical separation but an economic and status separation. In going after the established brands such as Amazon, Walmart, and music labels, you will be sucked into their playing field, one that was always stacked against individual sellers.
As belligerence goes (see previous post - Technology Implies Belligerence), blockchain has been a deeply belligerent technology. We are still in the early stages of the world of Web3, but it has come at an interesting time. The passion economy is a natural outcome of the attention economy.
Attention is passive.
Passion is active.
Of a brand or artist’s consumer there are bound to be a subset of people who feel so deeply that they are willing to participate beyond consumption. Social media’s effort to employ likes, reactions, comments, shares a reflection of this.
But what if you could own your passion? Kevin Kelly did some math, and we know that if you have 1000 “true fans” you can pretty much earn a decent living. You won’t have that mansion in Malibu, but you can pay bills, rent, and cost of living. That’s not bad. If there are people out there who love your work deep enough, you should be able to engage with them.
Web3 allows you to do that. There’s a reason musicians have been trying to fight for Web3. Not only are they badly affected by music labels’ lopsided revenue sharing deals, they are also powerful influencers on all the right platforms. Jay-Z points out in his interesting conversation with Warren Buffet that for a long time, the music industry had convinced musicians that getting wealthy from making music was taboo. Most musicians were careful to not showcase their wealth. It was seen as a precursor to their artistic demise. Fortunately, times have changed. And while popular musicians are widely celebrated, many upcoming artists now have the tools needed to reach out to their audiences.
This is why Web3 is so powerful. It enables us to build a deeper connection with our fans. It allows us to bring in our fans on our artistic journey and gives them a share of the pie. Detractors will say this is too small a share of the pie and they’d be right. But the idea was never to hand over the reins to the business. It’s to give you a representative share in line with your passion and love for your favourite artist.