With today’s digital world dictated by mighty tech giants, the creator economy often finds itself bound by their rules of engagement. However, the advent of Web 3.0 promises to return power to users – and thus creators – which may spark a fundamental shift in how content is created and monetised.

If Web 2.0 was all about user-generated content (UGC) and the social media explosion, Web 3.0 takes that a step further by decentralising control. The promise of Web 3.0 is rooted in exclusive data ownership and compensation, with users becoming the central gatekeepers of the entire web. Four key blockchain-enabled technologies are vital to operating Web3.0: cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and metaverses. 

Everything you should know about Web3 in Southeast Asia

These decentralised technologies will potentially be critical in transforming the creator economy. They could remove dependency on traditional platform intermediaries by allowing content creators to fully own their content and unlock monetisation through direct user engagement instead of advertising revenue models. This freedom allows a departure from platform-defined targets and strict adherence to the content algorithm, incentivising creativity on a creator’s own terms. While still in its nascent stage, the already exist increased interest in the applications of Web 3.0 within the Southeast Asia region, and there is a growing shift among the attitudes of content creators based here – with many of them embracing the potential of Web 3.0 and the opportunities it provides.

The future role of the creator economy 

While Web 2.0 was instrumental in the proliferation of UGC and UGC-centric business models, it was also an imbalanced system. 

As both gatekeeper and paymaster for content creators, tech platforms often held the lion’s share of the power. They had stringent viewer targets or posting schedules that creators had to achieve to be eligible for monetisation, resulting in more burnout and less originality. Additionally, platforms often held significant licensing rights to a creator’s content. 

Fortunately, Web 3.0 can help level the playing field. Features like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and social tokens are touted to enable creators to entirely own, monetise and manage their content. This cuts creator dependency on tech platforms, allowing creators to prioritise their own interests, as well as explore creative direction and innovation.

UGC innovation will be critical to shaping Web 3.0. Early iterations of the metaverse, such as Roblox, became popular because of the immense quantities of UGC available. Roblox rewards creators based on how frequently their content is used, is an example of a symbiotic relationship that underscores the importance of the creator economy and how it can thrive in a Web 3.0-powered world. Similarly, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore has also announced plans to launch a pilot program to help local content creators leverage the creator economy and ongoing Web 3.0 developments to generate targeted opportunities for growth and monetisation. With increased interest in the development of local content creators, ecosystem players and governments are recognising the creator economy as an emerging, alternative economic pillar of the future.

Decentralisation unlocks more creative freedom

By decentralising content and data ownership, along with digital identities, Web 3.0 grants more freedom for creators to monetise their creations. For instance, creators can make and sell virtual avatars in the form of NFTs, which can be traded on the NFT marketplace. Unlike in-game marketplaces, the NFT marketplace is not controlled by a third party. Anyone with cryptocurrency can buy avatars from creators, not just audiences of a specific platform.

Web 3.0 can also facilitate decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs), which naturally support creator economies. With DAOs, creators, operators and the online community can collaborate to launch creative projects and pursue initiatives under a transparent ownership mechanism. Platforms like Discord and Bigo Live are approaching this kind of structure by giving back autonomy to users through highly open communities. DAOs use voting tokens to essentially democratise decision-making, making everyone an invested co-creator with an equal say.

With these decentralised features, creators have the freedom to fully focus on making quality creations and not be distracted by the “what-ifs” of audience reception. It also means that content can become more affordable and more diverse as tech platforms are no longer solely calling the shots – as well as allowing audiences to support their favourite creators more directly.

Chapter 3.0 for the creator economy

Given that the technology and use cases for Web 3.0 are still being developed, it is too early to tell if the excitement over it and what it means for the creator economy is warranted. However, Web 3.0 ideology, as one author calls it, is already setting the stage for fair compensation and monetisation opportunities for content creators within the existing framework. Creators can now be rightfully treated as partners and collaborators instead of just content suppliers.

Once Web 3.0 materialises in full, we expect to see many exciting and innovative cases of how the creator economy can transform by leveraging decentralised technology. But the paradigm shift that everyone is talking about is not about to happen – it is already happening as we speak. We look forward to witnessing how this journey unfolds in the future.  

This article was authored by Mike Ong, VP, BIGO Technology.

About the author

Mr Mike Ong joined BIGO Technology Pte Ltd in October 2019. As Vice President, Mike leads the division responsible for the development of corporate branding and interactions with governments and key partners in Singapore and around the world, to open up new markets and build up tech talents of the future.