Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
Content creators and influencers are finding new ways to monetize their intellectual property, image and likeness, and increasingly this involves blockchain and cryptocurrency. The adoption of this new technology is creating a paradigm shift in how money flows through the entertainment industry’s ecosystem.
Based on my experience as the co-founder of a creator marketplace, I’ve seen firsthand the immense potential blockchain holds, but only if creators and influencers understand the distinctions.
The Difference Between Content Creator and Influencer
We tend to use these terms synonymously, but there’s a stark difference. “Influencer” is an umbrella term that encapsulates any person with a large following. Oftentimes, professional athletes and actors are influencers who move the needle with their public personas but don’t necessarily do so by creating content. There are influencers who create content, but not all content creators are influencers. There are many social media superstars who have risen to fame on platforms like TikTok, YouTube or Twitch, but there are also many more creators out there who haven’t hit it big yet.
For example, Kansas City Chiefs players Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce would be classified as influencers. They have large, avid followings but aren’t in the business of producing original content. Their platforms are mostly vehicles to interact and connect with fans. On the other hand, TikToker Khaby Lame and YouTuber MrBeast, for example, aren’t just influencers, they are also content creators because they post original content on a regular basis. Their influence comes from their ability to consistently generate new, consumable material.
Fundamentals of Crypto and Blockchain for Content Creators
It’s essential for creators to understand the difference between blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology simply organizes a series of transactions, or any other type of information, in a series of blocks that are recorded on a publicly visible ledger. After a transaction happens and is confirmed, that transaction is added to the next “block,” which contains numerous other confirmed transactions. All of these blocks of info are linked together in chronological order to create a chain, hence “blockchain.”
Cryptocurrency utilizes the blockchain as a store of value for financial incentive, using the distributed ledger to decentralize each financial transaction. Since these networks don’t store a centralized copy of the originally validated information, it’s difficult for hackers to exploit.
There’s a lot more to it and I’d highly suggest creators conduct their own research before seeking opportunities in this space. Don’t rely solely on the opinions of others, given the price action and volatility of the crypto asset class. Lastly, I would urge those looking at blockchain and crypto to look into the difference between various projects in the space.
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Content That Can Be Leveraged on the Blockchain
When it comes to leveraging content on the blockchain, I’d encourage creators to consider starting with NFTs. There are many opportunities for fans and creators/influencers to connect in new ways. NFTs implement the same blockchain technology, but instead of storing financial assets, they symbolize intellectual property ownership. This has led to a rapid rise of experiential offerings, paving the way for a new normal of digital collectibles.
A lesser-known use of cryptocurrency revolves around personalized creator tokens. These can be unique resources for community building; think of them as elite-level membership passes. Owning these assets grants greater access to the creator, sparking the ability for both creators and fans to exchange immense value instantaneously and securely. For creators, it’s a new avenue for income. For fans, it could be an opportunity to have a deeper connection with creators.
Content Creators and Blockchain/Crypto Opportunities
There are a number of ways influencers and creators can get paid within the crypto and blockchain space. There are also plenty of brand endorsement deals out there for crypto companies. It’s particularly promising to hone in on these opportunities before the industry gets saturated with brand collaborators given that there is still a bit of information asymmetry in the space right now. Compensation in these industries is familiar, typically utilizing equity grants and fiat currency.
But more interestingly, there could be opportunities to get paid in cryptocurrency itself, which can have great upside if there’s a demonstrable rise in value over time. However, given the volatility of the market, it is imperative to do your research to weigh the pros and cons of going down that route.
Perhaps more immediately, creators can invest directly into various cryptocurrency projects. The vast majority of media outlets speak primarily about Bitcoin and Ethereum, but there are thousands of cryptocurrencies in circulation. Don’t be shy about exploring other up-and-coming names, as there are plenty of exciting opportunities as our digital world becomes more decentralized.
Crypto is at a critical point of inflection where influencers and thought leaders play an insurmountable role in helping us learn the potential power of a decentralized society. I firmly believe we will be grateful for the work various public figures did and the sacrifice made in order to help with the education process and usher in a new era of financial empowerment and interconnectedness.
A Message to the Crypto Naysayers
We need naysayers in order for the believers to continue to push the boundaries to make this technology more scalable and widely adopted. It’s important to partake in this market only if you feel absolutely comfortable. Always conduct your own research and due diligence before embarking on this journey. If you go down the rabbit hole and still have your doubts, then don’t make any consequential moves until those doubts are answered. But I believe that blockchain and crypto are here to stay, and 20 years from now, those who got in on it early could potentially reap the rewards from their leap of faith.
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