Can blockchain-based micro-payments support creative pursuits?
Can writers, journalists, artists, and musicians use blockchain to financially support what they are creating?
I have seen a few stories over the past few weeks about blockchain-enabled micro-payments, and I’m really curious about how they work.
One of the major models for content producers is to build traffic and then blanket the site with advertisements in the hopes that one percent of the visitors click on an ad, which would generate an almost insignificant amount of money.
I guess, if you expect to have millions of visitors every month, or even a couple of hundred thousand, this method would make sense.
I should say, before I go too far down this road, that I’m not opposed to advertising. It’s just that it seems like a really hard way to support content — especially if you don’t want to write click-bait style stuff or if you don’t have a massive audience.
I also don’t like the idea of giving up control of how the site might look, or what kinds of content appear on these pages.
Creating coins to support content
So, while thinking about all of this, I came across a story yesterday about a musician who created her own cryptocurrency coins.
From what it sounds like, she distributes the coins to her fans and then they are able to redeem the currency for special merch or access to events, etc.
I also read about a blogger in Japan who rewards readers who comment or share content with cryptocurrency coins, although I’m not sure how the audience can use the coins, or if they have any value beyond being novelties.
The idea of creating a reader or audience-specific cryptocurrency is really appealing to me. I think, if nothing else, it would help me learn more about the backend of how currencies are developed and deployed.
But, I do wonder, how much time and energy it takes to manage a currency, and if it would require a lot of maintenance time to keep things running and updated?
Another potential is to use a service like Brave, which is a new kind of web browser that allows users to pay for content with bitcoin-based micro-payments. CoinDesk is using Brave, and I look forward to hearing how that trial goes.
The challenge of micro-payments
While I am interested in micro-payments and alternatives to rolling out advertising, I think it is important to recognize that although cryptocurrencies and blockchain might offer new forms of micro-payments, the idea of asking user or audiences to pay small fees to support content is not necessarily new.
So far it looks like there are few notable cases where content producers have been able to create viable alternatives to mainstream monetizing.
And even still, it seems like getting people to adopt some kind of micropayment system using traditional methods, like paying with a credit or debit card, might be hard enough. But asking users, especially if they are new to cryptocurrencies, to set up a wallet, deposit fiat currency and then somehow interact with a new currency seems like a big ask.