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The Creator Economy and NFTs: How Could the Relationship Play Out?

London, UK
Are we entering a more financially rewarding period for creatives? LBB’s Addison Capper chats to business leaders and creators to find out their views

If the future really is in the metaverse, then it needs creatives to build it. And with technologies like NFTs and blockchain at least promising that artists and creatives can benefit from their work financially, could we be entering a more promising and financially rewarding time for creators -  after decades of being undercut and forced to do more for less?

LBB’s Addison Capper tapped the thoughts of creative business leaders and creators themselves to get their thoughts.

Neil Waller
Co-founder, Whalar

There is an overwhelming amount of noise around web3 and we're still only at the starting line, but we’re already seeing loyal and engaging communities. The potential of web3 and the creator economy is like nothing we’ve seen before. And since creators sit at the heart of building and fostering communities this is an exciting time to expand the scale and types of projects where creators can benefit. 
Web3 is empowering creators with new opportunities when it comes to the metaverse. Content creation has just expanded with the potential of a limitless amount of scope. Similar to the invention of the printing press, radio, TV, or the internet, the metaverse is an entirely new space/place/framework for creators to create that didn't exist or wasn't as accessible before. In addition, the NFT/blockchain model allows for a new model of ownership for creators. It's one where the proof of ownership and/or IP creation in a digital sphere becomes that much more ubiquitous and it enables a marketplace model where the original creator benefits. There are endless opportunities to build in metaverses, bring a web3 approach to brand partnerships, sponsorships, and even possibilities around rewarding the loyalty of communities that engage with creators. 

Chris Waitt
The Black Arts Project 

All these new areas of tech show huge potential for creatives. For example, we are already seeing how Black artists from Africa, who have traditionally found entry to the art market challenging, are finding that NFTs are an empowering gateway to a global audience and financial rewards. The project that I'm involved with, The Black Arts Project, is precisely trying to do more of that by giving people of colour a platform for web3. As well as graphics and fine arts NFTs, we're also talking to music artists, which is another area where the possibility of embedding blockchain tech could reap huge rewards for artists who have been economically battered by so many tech advances of the digital era. 
Having spent some time in the NFT world, it's clear that there are some quite shady aspects to it that still make it quite a risky place for even tech-savvy creators. The first artist we are collaborating with on BAP, Aurélia Durand, has already had her artwork stolen and sold as NFTs on OpenSea by rogue operators. So, while there is great potential in this tech I would still advise people to approach with caution!

Duncan Gaman & Jade Duncan-Knight
Executive producer and animation production assistant at Partizan

The future of entertainment will need more than just code. Creatives are valued now more than ever, as their art is paramount to this experience. From Twitter icons to VR & AR galleries, demand could soon be outweighing supply, which gives our directors more contractual freedom. Marketplaces like OpenSea allow artists to earn royalties from resale, giving art financial longevity. 

With the format of limited editions becoming increasingly popular, NFTs are the 21st century’s baseball cards. Artists often weave in unique touches to each piece in a thematic series, like Partizan talent Clara Bacou’s 3D portraits ‘Rising Tiger’ and ‘Crying Dragon’. 

Seeing as the metaverse is a new and evolving concept, we, the ‘creators’, and brands have yet to fully understand how to navigate it. Whereas traditional methods of advertising such as TV and billboards have relied on pre-existing ideas that suit those formats, director talent and their production companies are best advised to help companies understand what best to do rather than vice versa. With that, artists have a bargaining chip not only with their skills but with their knowledge, which holds value in both the financial and contemporary sense.

Jon Williams
CEO and founder of The Liberty Guild

So here we stand on the precipice of a glorious digital future… again. Currently, the metaverse is ‘Second Life 2.0’ minus the truck drivers from Minnesota showing up as succubi. It will get very interesting when it reaches the intersection with reality. And yes. You need to be in it to win it. But it’s got miles of winding road to get down first. ‘Are we nearly there yet Mum?’.

NFTs are just something for ETH millionaires to do with their crypto right? Buy low and flip it. Because we can’t all have the first-mover advantage of Bored Ape Yacht Club. For different reasons, artists and gamers both hate NFTs. Not sure why ‘creatives’ are any different.

But the blockchain is a solution to a real problem. A public digital record of ownership is something that can absolutely apply to the creative arts. Music uses a licensing model. Pay per play works. Why don’t we sell our ‘creative’ ideas like this? A distributed ledger can help us do just that. Clients would pay a smaller up-front fee and then another fee every time they used the idea you sold them. In today’s increasingly freelance world that would help pay the mortgage wouldn’t it… in the real ‘verse’. Not the meta one.

Carlo Van de Roer
Director at CASEY and founder of Satellite Lab

The blockchain has enabled a more direct and intimate dynamic between artists and collectors which can be empowering for both parties, and a broader reach for creatives. Transparency in dealing with art as collectable and removing some of the traditional gatekeeping in the creative landscape has pros and cons - but overall is a fascinating reset of stale mechanisms. 

New toolsets have also evolved out of the blockchain and NFT smart contracts, some have practical implications, such as ‘permanent’ storage and provenance for artists. Other toolsets offer creative possibilities - from artwork that is fully on the blockchain, in which the distribution system is also the creative medium (such as autographs), to artwork which plays with the dynamic between creative, machine and collector through interactivity and generative methods. For me, it is this new creative potential that is the most exciting.

Sarah Leccacorvi
Head of content and creative at Havas Entertainment (part of Havas Media Group)

For the 50 million creators out there, the metaverse should be a playground of possibilities, only limited by their imaginations. However, the reality is that the metaverse is still being created and shaped and the end destination isn’t that concrete or clear yet.
Gaming seems like an obvious vertical for growth, given how many creators in that space have already been flexing their creative muscles -from designing their own avatar skins to becoming brand activation architects for brands in Roblox and Fortnite or even land designers in Decentraland (in the near future). But there’s no guarantee that the ability to build in the metaverse will translate into bigger financial reward. Ultimately, audiences and fans still have the last say and creators will be compensated based on the seamlessness of the experiences they create. Everything points toward an iteration of how we experience the internet, founded on people first, with an overarching ambition of getting paid to do something, whether that’s to play, watch, interact, add, review, or vote. So, although creators might have more opportunities to be part of the fabric of the metaverse, this new world might also open more opportunities for fans and audiences to get paid, too.

Kezia Barnett
Director at The Producers

Web3 is exciting, new and full of possibilities. It’s in its infancy and people are just starting to understand the potential of the blockchain, NFTs, the metaverse and all things decentralised.

NFTs can simply be digital artwork sold for cryptocurrency, but because they represent unique ownership of a token, they can have many different uses. The digital image could be linked to an IRL physical object, be the key to a mobile metaverse, raise money for charity or be part of a collection with shared ownership of a DAO with voting rights. Art, business, gaming, investment and brand come together in the metaverse and it’s only just begun. 

For artists, this space offers an incredible opportunity of reaching global audiences instantly, without gatekeepers. NFTs cut out the middle-man with wallet-to-wallet transactions allowing collectors to buy directly from their favourite artists / other-world

Smart contracts give the work provable provenance and ongoing artists’ royalties on secondary sales are built-in, allowing creators unprecedented agency over their work, the ability to protect/monetise their creations and financially benefit over time. The NFT world provides a platform for artists but also a community, inclusion and accessibility. 

Down the rabbit hole! WAGMI!

As with any pioneering venture web3 is a little wild west,  so DYOR and have your security wits about you. 

Kezia has two NFT photography collections on an artists-curated platform @Foundation, which she will add 1/1s to gradually, as well as a project with her family: Apteryx Kiwi NFT’s.

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