The “Value” of Artists and Their Communities in Web3
by Sarah Kornfeld
Art has value. It holds value culturally. It holds value in the art market. Yet, some key questions are emerging because of the Blockchain: What is artistic value in Web3, “on-chain”? Does the blockchain space hold a totally different model for artists’ value? Is “value” evolving rapidly because of technology? Are Art Markets and Institutions ready for this revolution?
There is a Blockchain Value Revolution (BVR) occurring for artists on-chain and my aim here is to share the big ideas around this trend. This is the first of our series on BVR and we look forward to sharing these ideas and trends to watch.
TRENDS TO WATCH
Community Led Investments: As blockchain creative communities grow (think of them as “super fans”) communities will invest in and promote artists and projects they think are truly valuable. This will look like promotion from the outside, but with “listen to earn” and “token investing” artists (of all genres) will receive investments on-chain directly from their community. This act of community investment will increase artists’ value (both financially and re: community reach). “Fans” (as communities) will have the ability to fund the content they would like to hear/see. And will come together in a new type of group movement where they can exchange their shared interests.
Expect to see tracking systems pop up to measure creative growth on-chain that will influence value and impact of art In Real Life. Also, an increase in “light”, very specialized DAO structures (one DAO/community per fan-club) where your active participation and funding turns into very exclusive rewards (NFT, exclusivity on events / items) – these exclusive groups might have more influence than large institutional investors.
Audience Amplification: Web2 was a “push” model (look, click, buy) and Web3 is solidly “Pull” (join, collaborate, share and promote) – on-chain activity is built to pull people in and grow with them. Therefore, promotion is the by-product of collaboration, and now communities themselves are stars. In other words, a community that is growing, collaborating, and investing (through tokens) will increase their cultural value as well as the coin they use. So, individual artists are not the only ones to watch, it’s the audience itself (as a community) that is the built-in engine that travels with creatives.
Expect to see communities spend as much time promoting their values, ideas and impact as much as any one artist in their fold. This will mean marketers will need to have more authentic relationships, not just pay-to-play models.
A.I. in art and the importance of a Proof of Authenticity: with the exponential growth of AI-generated art, the question of authenticity in art is one to be addressed by blockchain. The proliferation of AI-generated, similarly styled art, produced to mimic a current successful artist, shows that true authentication of an artwork’s origin will be a hot topic in the next 2 years.
Expect to see new AI tools and “proof of personhood” technology that will be required to connect art (and music) to real artists, not bots. This will also inform decisions about investing in particular artists – are they human or not? Do they have real humans following them? What is real?
Creative Platform Boom and Bomb: More and more protocols focusing on artists and creatives are being developed and will leverage their creative brands to launch them. This does not mean they will succeed. Large culture brands moving on-chain will draw people in, but won’t keep people in their protocol. Most people lecture that “authenticity is everything” to have a successful protocol, but that’s an easy answer – what’s key is to be comfortable with street culture, scrappy entrepreneurs and the Generation Z culture of community and sharing. Not being comfortable with these factors will make initiatives weak, and fail.
Expect to see lots of big culture brand announcements about going on-chain, and then quickly see them close or blend with other protocols to stay afloat. The critical factor is the needed “bend not break” attitude of those starting chains for artists – more than ever, model the culture on-chain, build slowly and with people who know the blockchain culture. It’s an “inside out” game, and you can’t pressure, pay or force people on-chain to be connected; it’s got to be built from the ground up leveraging communities, incentives and truly new and creative ideas.