- Web3 guru Li Jin outlines what she calls “progressive decentralization” as an effective playbook for media creation.
- Jin says that building a creative community starts with great content before community ownership can be layered in.
- The point at which creators cede control and let their creation loose among fans would seem to be both potentially interesting in terms of creative development and fraught with risk if the timing isn’t right.
Li Jin, an advocate for the creator community and co-founder of Variant Fund, a venture firm investing in Web3, outlines her thesis that what she calls “progressive decentralization” is an effective playbook for media creation. In other words, building a creative community should start with great content made by a small team, before layering in community ownership.
There are already examples of fans becoming co-creators in developing media or applications on top of a character universe, or influencing the direction of content creation perhaps by investing in the idea or creator by purchasing tokens (NFTs).
Jin suggests that the most effective form of content creation and monetization that will benefit a participating web3 community, mirrors that established for crypto apps. Essentially, a creator or small group of creators initiate and idea, then foster a fanbase, then distribute ownership and control of the IP to fans in the form of tokens.
As she explains, “That initial work serves as a lightning rod for a community to form, who become emotionally attached to that cast of characters/storyline and intrinsically motivated to participate.
“Over time, they can increasingly engage in decision-making for additional IP creation. Eventually, tokens and fan ownership can turbo-charge this community participation — for instance incentivizing fans to create derivative works and stories.”
Doing it the other way — effectively grouping a community together first to come up with content — “would be tremendously challenging.”
That’s hardly a surprise and surely no great revelation. The history of content creation has been driven by single creators or small groups of creators. Even the “written by committee” and “designed by focus” group content that plagues Hollywood is still generated by a relatively small number of people before being taken to market.
Jin even acknowledges, in crypto speak, that the multiple spin-offs and sequels to Harry Potter would not have taken off but for the popularity gained by JK Rowling to her original novel, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”
She points to fledging examples of this “progressive decentralization” in the Web3 world including Forgotten Runes, Tally Labs, Shibuya, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and Mad Realities. All, she says, are creating content under the guidance of core creative teams, and have scoped parameters for fan participation, with an eye towards greater fan ownership over time.
Collective ownership is the principal difference between her web3 idea of content creation and the way it has always been done. Rather than the author or studio retaining control and ownership, the wider fan base trades active involvement in the development of characters and storyline for a financial stake in its success.
The point at which that happens — when creators cede control and let their creation loose among fans — would seem to be both potentially interesting in terms of creative development and fraught with risk if the timing isn’t right. Is a single creative mind better placed than a whole fan community to guide a vision?
“What we’ve seen in many NFT communities is exactly that: without a foundation of intrinsic motivation among members to build upon and extend a core narrative, these communities of token holders can be fragile and speculative, with people churning out in search of the next thing to bet on before a longer-term roadmap is realized.”
The cultural impact a creator has is already surpassing that of traditional media, but there’s still a stark imbalance of power between proprietary platforms and the creators who use them. Discover what it takes to stay ahead of the game with these fresh insights hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives:
- How Creators (Professional and Otherwise) Are Making Money in the Creator Economy
- Almost 25% of Us Are Content Creators. Here’s Why That’s Awesome (and How It’s Actionable).
- Storytelling on Demand: It Has to Happen for the Creator Economy
- In the Creator Economy, Creator-Educators Contain Multitudes
- The Economy Part of the Creator Economy
- Why Community Is Everything for the Creator Economy