The Art of Web3 Payments: Transforming the Creative Industry and Patronage
Web3 payments are ushering in a new age for creatives — one where artists can have complete control over their work, unlock more sustainable monetization opportunities, and forge direct connections with their audience.
As such, web3 has the potential to solve a problem that has plagued creatives since time immemorial: that is, being fairly compensated for their work without having to sacrifice artistic freedom and independence. Behind this paradigm shift lies three technological innovations: tokenization, programmable money, and NFT-gated experiences. In this article, we’ll explore how these technologies can enable digital creatives to flourish and develop deeper relationships with their supporters.
1. Tokenization Redefines Creative Ownership and Value
The growing interest in digital art has catapulted non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the mainstream, with many people now familiar with the concept of buying, selling, and trading unique digital assets like virtual artwork and collectibles.
But the ownership potential of NFTs extends far beyond fancy .pngs and .gifs. In the web3 realm, any piece of media can be tokenized as a non-fungible token (NFT).
From NFTs for literature (Mirror, Zora Zines) and music (Sound, Anotherblock) to video (GLASS) and events (Unlock), the modes of digital ownership are limitless. Through tokenization, creators can sell or auction anything they create — whether it’s an art piece, song, podcast, film, or essay — and even offer limited editions or fractional ownership, opening up diverse revenue streams.
Tokenization also paves the way for thriving secondary markets for digital assets. Artists can implement royalty systems within smart contracts, ensuring they receive a percentage of future sales or transactions involving their tokenized work. This creates a sustainable income source for creators and incentivizes their continued cultural contributions.
Foundation recently took this concept a step further with their Worlds feature, a web3-native curation tool that allows anyone to coordinate with sellers, curate an onchain exhibition, and share in the sales. This innovative approach — only possible within web3 — empowers artists and fosters a community-driven ecosystem, where collectors and curators can play a more active role in supporting the artists they believe in.
2. Programmable Money Enables Efficient & Sustainable Monetization
In the pursuit of creativity, sustainable income is vital. After all, it can take a lifetime to hone an artistic talent to the point at which it can be reliably monetized.
However, thanks to programmable money, the starving artist cliche needn’t persist.
Programmable money refers to digital assets that can be automatically managed and manipulated according to the predetermined rules of smart contracts. Within the Ethereum ecosystem, programmable money is primarily experienced through ERC20 tokens (e.g., stablecoins, governance tokens), which users lend, borrow, and stake through DeFi apps.
For artists, programmable money enables new forms of monetization and revenue sharing that were previously impossible, as demonstrated with platforms like Foundation.
But programmable money can be even more transformative for artists with capital-efficient protocols like Superfluid.
By using Superfluid subscriptions, creatives can receive funds instantly and continuously in a second-by-second money stream — ensuring a constant and reliable source of income. For patrons, Superfluid simplifies the process of supporting their favorite creators through automated microtransfers; with a single transaction, fractions of pennies can flow gaslessly to recipients for as long as they like. In effect, programmable money and protocols like Superfluid can enable a highly accessible and sustainable way for patrons to support creators.
3. NFT-Gated Experiences Deepen the Creator-Fan Relationship
NFT-gated experiences have emerged as a compelling crypto-native way to drive community engagement, with household names like Ticketmaster, Spotify, and Adidas recently experimenting with their own implementations. In the context of the creative industry, NFT-gating can be used to lock premium content, events, livestreams, collections, and more behind tokens.
All that said, NFT-gating isn’t just about access control and fostering a sense of exclusivity; by analyzing the ownership, trading activity, and participation in NFT-gated events, creators can gain valuable insights into their audience and recognize those who are most committed to their work. In turn, they can reward these loyal fans with unique, tailored experiences.
For example, a musician could offer their most dedicated supporters early access to new music releases or collectibles. Similarly, a visual artist could provide top patrons with first dibs on their latest pieces. Writers and content creators, on the other hand, could provide their biggest fans with early access to their work and invitations to private workshops or discussions. And in the world of gaming, developers could offer NFT holders access to in-game assets, exclusive digital items, or special events.
Leveraging NFT-gating to identify and engage with their most committed fans allows artists to create a more intimate and rewarding experience for their audience — deepening the connection between fans and creators and encouraging a sense of loyalty and investment in the creator’s ongoing success. And when combined with other web3 technologies like programmable money (like NFTs that stream digital assets every second), their potential impact increases by an order of magnitude.
Embracing a Collaborative Future for Creativity
The convergence of web3 payment technologies — tokenization, programmable money, and NFT-gated experiences — is paving the way for a vibrant and sustainable creative landscape, where artists and creators can fully express their artistic vision while earning fair compensation for their work. By democratizing ownership, establishing more sustainable income streams, and enhancing the relationship between artists and patrons, web3 is equipping digital creatives with the tools they need to thrive in an increasingly interconnected, online world.