How NEAR Protocol Will Jumpstart the New Creator Economy

La Devochka
6 min readMay 6, 2021

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Over the last few years, there has been a lot of noise surrounding the so-called “creator economy” or “passion economy”. The popularisation of the internet and the development of Web2 has given creators the tools to distribute and monetise their skills and creations through online platforms. This has provided new and exciting opportunities for creators and consumers but these new opportunities have come with a cost: a loss of privacy and ownership.

Luckily, technological advancements like blockchain have provided new tools for the creation of platforms that correct these pitfalls and allow for a more equitable and democratic way to create, distribute, and exchange value on the internet. Exciting projects are starting to arise, one of the most notable being NEAR Protocol. In this article I am going to share my thoughts on why I believe NEAR is going to be a game changer for creators and communities by going through its infrastructure and the projects that have been built on it.

The Creator Economy and its Current Pitfalls

The landscape of the current platform-driven creator economy (source)

In the first decade of the 2000s, a wide variety of online content sharing platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and the like came out. These platforms allow creators to showcase their creations and get access to opportunities to monetise their content. Currently, half of the professional creators (approximately one million) earn their money on YouTube, while another 25% make money on Instagram as influencers, while the rest earn money on Twitch or through other sources (Marketing Hub).

Instagram and YouTube are the preferred platforms for influencers (source)

Considering that the community of content creators counts more than 50 million people, the first issue immediately comes to light: access. For many creators, both professional and amateur, earning money through their creations, let alone a living wage, is extremely difficult. Most of the platforms offer low discoverability, make it challenging to create meaningful connections through creators and communities, and promote a business model that corrupts the authenticity of the product or content that the creators produced by making it essential for creators to rely on ads.

These platforms mediate the interaction between creators and their community making them liable to their monetising strategies and at times censorship (YouTube being a notorious example). This does not only put creators in a position of high uncertainty, but it is also detrimental to the quality of their product and the creator’s communities. While creators have close to zero decisional power, users are saturated with targeted ads built on the exploitation of their data.

Since 2017, YouTubers were negatively affected by YouTube’s demonetising policies (source)

On top of this, the monetising models that are mostly used in the current creator’s economy such as subscriptions and other recurring revenues are very inefficient. Non-fungible tokens are a much better concept of equity and ownership in creators that when combined with the creator economy they lay the basis for a new model of collective ownership.

NFTs opened up new frontiers for Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs), organisations that operate in a transparent, non-hierarchical and democratic way. Every member/stakeholder has the power to have her interests represented by having a say in the policymaking. For the first time, the means of production are controlled by the creators and those involved in sustaining their content production, and importantly, they are also in charge of the wealth they generate too!

It still seems difficult to imagine but the media outlets and creative organisations of the future will be co-created, run, and co-owned by creators and their communities. The technological infrastructure to enter into a new economic era already exists, what is needed is a platform that will put the pieces together to pave the way to innovation.

NEAR Protocol and the Future of the Creator Economy

From the most recent NEAR Community Townhall

NEAR Protocol is a decentralised application platform specifically designed to facilitate the building of applications. The infrastructure it provides makes it easy for any developer coming from the Web 2.0 space or other protocols to quickly and efficiently build on the NEAR ecosystem and to recreate Web 2.0 experiences for its users. The main ingredients that make this possible are the use of a common coding language (AssemblyScript or Rust), cheap and fast transactions (transaction finality on NEAR is 2–3 seconds, while transactions cost on average <$0.01), interconnectivity with different blockchain systems, the use of flexible accounts, developers tools, and funding opportunities for a variety of projects.

The low transaction costs allow for the development of governance structures that run on votes as opposed to a “signal of interest”, as is currently the case for DAOs built on Ethereum. This significantly empowers creators and their communities and gives them an added layer of flexibility. As the CEO of NEAR foundation Erik Trautman explains:

“ The creator economy is based on a triangle of creator, community, and open finance, powered by blockchain. Creator economy is perfect for the blockchain space. NEAR’s components will enable creators to monetize their work in a sustainable and flexible way. DAOs on NEAR can be configured to allow communities to become incorporated as entities. Creators don’t need to serve different communities, the communities become their own entity with a treasury.”

Thanks to its accessible and user-friendly architecture, and its interoperability with different platforms such as Ethereum, NEAR positions itself as one of the best platforms for creators and users that want to build social applications that are valuable for the community while retaining full ownership and decisional power over their creations and wealth. On NEAR, the financial applications governed with DAOs provide the necessary tools for creators to get access to liquidity. Coupled with the introduction of NFTs the communities can get access to voting rights creating an organic direct relationship between all the parts of the system.

From the most recent NEAR Community Townhall

At this point, it becomes clear how NEAR Protocol brings in a new kind of creative economy that puts the creators and their communities at the centre of the economy. This new kind of economic relations make it possible to create a more humane and sustainable creative economy that instead of looting people’s creative potential it nourishes it through incentives.

The NEAR Ecosystem is Growing and So Are the Opportunities for Creators

The NEAR ecosystem is rapidly evolving, new projects are launched weekly, and as the infrastructure to bridge NEAR to Ethereum gets more refined (see Project Aurora) it continues to attract more developers and users.

NFT projects on NEAR (awesomenear.com)

Over 50 DApps have been successfully deployed in NEAR and a host of other exciting projects are currently on their way. Some of the most interesting applications that have emerged on NEAR for artists and creative people are Paras, Mintbase, and Swagger DAO. These platforms provide great opportunities for artists and designers to monetise on their creations while helping to bring NFTs to mainstream. For more information visit: https://awesomenear.com/ and stay tuned for the next article on the creator economy on NEAR.

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La Devochka

Crypto scavenger and cypherpunk ally, writing on privacy, crypto projects, philosophy of technology and more.