Over the past decade or so, technology has fundamentally changed the reality of being a creator.

By Erki Koldits, CEO of PopSpot 

On the positive side, the barriers to entry have been dramatically lowered. Musicians, singers, and rappers can, for example, produce studio quality songs in their bedrooms with free software and skills they’ve picked up online. There are also dozens of platforms where artists can share and promote their work.

For all but a select few creators, however, those lower barriers to entry and an abundance of platforms have failed to translate into significant material gains. The average musician in South Africa, for example, earns less than R10 000 a month. It’s hard to feel even remotely financially secure on such a small amount.

The degree to which creators’ incomes remain unstable was starkly brought home during the Covid-19 pandemic, where many lost their livelihoods entirely. In desperation, especially as it became clear that help from the government wasn’t forthcoming, many turned to their communities of fans for support. Many of the available avenues for doing so, however, proved inadequate.

Fortunately, a new wave of technologies can help here too. Not by further lowering the barriers to entry for creators, or providing another avenue for them to promote their output, but by making it simple for them to build direct, mutually beneficial, relationships with their fans.


Fragmentation and failing the artist 

Part of the problem is that many of the platforms creators currently use to share their product and promote themselves, simply aren’t built with creators in mind. Even if that was their original intent, most start to feel the pressures of revenue and end up serving investors and shareholders.

It’s for that reason that social media algorithms show you more posts paid for by brands than original content from your favourite artists. It’s also why musicians and singers end up getting fractions of cents every time someone streams their content. For their part, brands are all too aware of this disconnect and use it to hold all the power in creator collaborations. They know that, even for creators with reasonably large public profiles, they’re often the most significant source of income.

The ecosystem is also overly fragmented, meaning that creators are almost constantly directing fans to other platforms in order to consume their content. It is, in other words, a situation that suits no one other than the various platforms and their shareholders.


A better, Web3-oriented, way 

Fortunately, Web3 is paving the way for creators to build mutually beneficial direct relationships with their fans. This decentralised, blockchain-centric vision for the future of the web could eliminate many of the issues presented by the current online options available to creators.

Perhaps most importantly, however, it provides avenues through which creators can build direct relationships with their fans. Imagine being able to buy your favourite Amapiano artist’s new single straight from a post teasing it and knowing that almost all the money goes straight to them. Or being able to vote on the subject of your favourite graphic artist’s next piece, buying an NFT of it and getting a free print in the process.

In a world where the economic realities of social media leave many fans feeling alienated, it’s a way to reimagine the fan-creator relationship in new and authentic ways. It also means that creators have a much clearer idea of what their fans want. And if they take the right approach, creators can leverage those advantages and that knowledge to build more secure incomes for themselves.

This isn’t some near-future pipe dream either. It’s precisely what we’re trying to build at PopSpot. We firmly believe that creators deserve more power and security and that the best way for them to achieve that is by enabling direct, authentic relationships with fans.


Embracing certainty 

The past couple of years have taught us exactly how uncertain life can be. They also showed that creators can be hit by that uncertainty harder than most. Even with the world fully open again and events back in swing, it’s still worth giving them a little more certainty. Direct fan relationships are, undoubtedly, the best way to do that.