From the 13th Century to the Digital Creator Age: A History of the Revenue-Sharing Model

5 min readJun 13, 2023


The revenue-sharing business model has played a significant role in commercial transactions throughout history. While the concept may seem contemporary, its roots can be traced back centuries, highlighting the enduring nature of this collaborative economic model.

In this blog post, we will embark on a journey through time, exploring the history of revenue-sharing business relationships with examples dating back to the 13th century.

Medieval Merchant Guilds (13th-16th Century)

During the Middle Ages, merchant guilds emerged as powerful economic entities in Europe. These associations brought together merchants in the same trade to protect their common interests. Revenue-sharing agreements were prevalent among guild members, where profits from collective ventures, such as overseas trade expeditions or joint investments, were divided proportionally. The Hanseatic League, a prominent guild of Baltic Sea traders, exemplified the effectiveness of revenue-sharing arrangements during this era.

Royalties in the Renaissance (16th-18th Century)

The Renaissance witnessed the rise of artistic patronage and the emergence of royalty agreements. Prominent artists and composers would create works under the sponsorship of wealthy individuals or institutions. In exchange for their support, sponsors would receive a portion of the revenue generated by the artwork. A well-known example is the partnership between the Italian painter Raphael and Pope Julius II, who commissioned several significant works for the Vatican. This revenue-sharing model enabled artists to finance their creations while providing patrons with a share of the subsequent profits.

Mining Partnerships in the Gold Rush (19th Century)

During the 19th-century gold rush, revenue-sharing arrangements were prevalent among miners. Individual prospectors often lacked the resources to explore and exploit gold mines independently. Instead, they formed partnerships where the costs and profits were shared among members. These cooperative ventures ensured that the risks and rewards of mining were distributed among the participants. The California Gold Rush of 1849 is a notable example that produced revenue-sharing partnerships.

The Power of Partnership: How Creators and Fans are Aligning as Partners

Music Industry Royalties (20th Century)

The advent of recorded music in the early 20th century introduced revenue-sharing models to the music industry. With radio and record sales growth, artists, songwriters, and publishers negotiated royalty agreements to ensure fair compensation. Royalties based on sales, airplay, and public performances became standard practice, granting artists a percentage of the revenue generated by their music. Iconic artists like Elvis Presley and The Beatles benefited from such revenue-sharing agreements.

Digital Creator Platforms (21st Century)

In the digital age, revenue-sharing models have become prevalent on various online platforms. Companies like YouTube, Spotify, and app stores manage revenue-sharing arrangements with content creators and developers. YouTube, for instance, shares ad revenue with creators based on views and engagement, allowing them to monetize their content. GigaStar empowers YouTube Creators and Fans to become partners through revenue-share securities digitally represented by Channel Revenue Tokens (CRTs). These modern examples demonstrate the continued relevance of the revenue-sharing model in the digital landscape.

The history of revenue-sharing spans centuries, reflecting its enduring value in various industries and economic contexts. From medieval guilds and Renaissance art patrons to modern digital platforms, the concept has adapted and thrived across different epochs.

Today’s collaborative and digitally-driven economy continues to embrace revenue-sharing models, enabling individuals and businesses to forge mutually beneficial partnerships. As we navigate the ever-evolving business landscape, understanding the historical foundations of revenue-sharing can inspire us to explore and embrace innovative approaches to collaboration and shared success.

See how GigaStar is democratizing the creator economy with GigaStar Market, a next-gen marketplace for YouTube Creators and Fans to become revenue-sharing partners.

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