Work is changing. The old structures that dominated the 20th century are gradually being replaced by platforms and cultures that have grown up on the internet that aim to help people do what they love for a living. Li and Nathan unpack this new passion economy in a weekly conversation with guests at the forefront of this change.
Documenting the Creator Economy with Avi Gandhi
Over the past year, several platforms have revised their agreements with creators. Twitch slashed its streamers’ revenue share from 70% to 50%. Substack canceled creator health-insurance stipends while lowering guaranteed payment amounts. Meta got rid of its creator bonus program for Reels altogether.
Chronicling it all is Avi Gandhi. A longtime digital media talent agent and former head of creator partnerships at Patreon, Avi now consults for companies that want to form lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with creators. He also writes his own newsletter, “Creator Logic,” about how the top names in the industry choose platforms, organize their operations, and maximize monetization.
In this episode, we talk about what platforms need to understand about how creators make decisions, what Silicon Valley gets wrong when investing in creator platforms and tools, and how creators should protect themselves in a shifting platform landscape.
(00:00) Episode Preview
(02:09) Avi's background in the creator economy: WME, Wheelhouse, and Patreon
(06:42) The knowledge vacuum around creators and their stacks
(09:58) The path forward for the creator economy
(18:32) Building for creators: opportunities and innovations
(23:47) Building a creator partnerships function
(35:23) Can a creator middle class ever exist?
(44:54) Tensions between creators and existing platforms
(47:14) Creator economics and audiences
(57:49) AI creators vs. human creators
(61:45) Avi's recommended resources
AI music with Holly Herndon, Mat Dryhurst, and Jesse Walden
Last month, in April 2023, a song that used the AI-generated voices of Drake and The Weeknd went wildly viral across social media before being taken down from streaming services for breaching copyright. Shortly after, Grimes took a more permissive approach, launching a platform to help fans create derivative music using her AI voice model, called Elf.Tech.
In the midst of these developments in AI music, Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst stand out as veterans who have have been on the forefront of the intersection of music, community, technology, and AI for many years. In 2021, they released a DAO-governed AI voice twin of Holly’s, called Holly+, and their more recent project, Spawning, offers tools for creators to manage their AI identities. In this conversation, we’re also joined by Jesse Walden, who originally got his start in crypto through music, by being a music manager before co-founding Mediachain, a startup which sought to attribute every piece of media on the internet using blockchains. We weave through the economics of AI music and derivative creation, the impact AI will have on the distribution of creator success, how hyper-personalization maps to listener behavior, industry regulation, impacts for record labels, and more.
Jesse and Li are cofounders and General Partners at Variant, an early-stage web3 venture firm. Learn more at https://variant.fund/
Timestamps: • (00:00) Episode preview • (02:27) Spawning a baby and a startup • (04:07) Holly+ & AI-driven content creation • (07:02) Community participation & creation using Holly+ • (11:16) Grimes & the economics of derivative works • (17:32) Crypto in the evolution of AI music • (21:03) Jesse Walden’s journey from music to crypto • (25:41) How AI impacts the power law of music success • (36:53) Music consumption modes: passive vs. active • (39:47) Hyper-personalization of music • (47:45) Updates on Spawning: AI tools for artists • (50:19) AI, data, and creator consent • (53:14) Regulation & adaptation for record labels • (58:59) Worldcoin, voice models, and digital identity • (01:03:31) Prediction for the future of music: what will stay the same?
Social tokens, NFTs, and lessons from Uber ft. Matt Alston
Two years ago, it was predicted that every creator would have a social token, which would enable fans to bet on that creator and invest in their success. That clearly hasn’t panned out, and in their place, NFTs have become much more popular as a mechanism for creator monetization. We discuss why that is (psychological ownership!) with Matt Alston, the co-founder and CEO of Bonfire, a no-code website builder for web3 creators, brands, and communities. Bonfire enables creators to build web3-enabled spaces to host their community for drops, exclusive content, and token-gated events and experiences. Before Bonfire, Matt was a product manager at Uber focused on Rider Loyalty & Rewards, where he helped launch Uber’s loyalty program Uber Rewards, which has since been merged with their subscription offering to create Uber One. We discuss the lessons learned from Uber’s rewards program as it pertains to airdrops and using tokens as an incentive in web3.
TikTok’s Creator Strategy ft. Paul Marvucic, Head of Product Marketing
TikTok has been in the news for a lot of reasons recently, but one thing that they’ve done well is pioneering various initiatives that moved the creator economy forward, like the TikTok Creator Fund, creation tools that dramatically lowered the barrier to making short videos, and a discovery feed that made it possible for anyone to be discovered.
Paul Marvucic is the Head of Product Marketing at TikTok focused on features that enable creativity and allow creators to monetize on the platform. Prior to TikTok, Paul led creator marketing initiatives at YouTube, including redesigning their Creator Awards program and launching features that allow any advertiser to be a creator. Paul started his career editing the West Wing Week for the Obama White House YouTube channel. You can find Paul on TikTok @pistolpaul where he shares humorous insights on working culture and life with his 90K followers.
We discuss how to enhance one’s reputation as a creator-friendly platform, tactics to branch into new segments of creators, the origins of the TikTok Creator Fund, lessons for web3 builders, and more.
This is the podcast with Reagan Fry that was mentioned during the show:
DAOs Explained ft. Tracheopteryx
Historically, humans have organized themselves in a variety of ways: from tribes and councils, to LLCs, and C-Corps. But these forms of organization tend to be centralized in nature, and feel slightly out of place today.
With so much of our personal and professional lives taking place online now, the real question is: what does an internet-native way of organizing ourselves and our resources look like?
DAOs, or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, are one compelling answer. In this episode, we unpack that. We explore the fundamentals: what DAOs are, how they function, and what they entail for the future of work.
To take on this task, we’re welcoming Tracheopteryx to the show! Trach is a cofounder at Coordinape—a scalable & permissionless platform for decentralized compensation built for the needs of DAOs.
Trach has been operating in this space for a while now. He is also a core contributor at Yearn Finance—making him the perfect guest to help us unpack DAOs.
We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!
The Rise of Fashion NFTs ft. Dani Loftus
How we portray ourselves online has become almost as relevant as how we portray ourselves IRL: Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are the new tailored suits and designer handbags.
In years past, digital status-signaling was largely restricted to gaming communities but the post-COVID world has created a vibrant digital fashion scene with major fashion houses like Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana getting involved.
More recently, this digital fashion world has also collided with web3 and NFTs—taking traditional fashion values of ownership and authenticity and making them verifiable on-chain.
In this episode, we explore the rise of fashion NFTs and how they might disrupt the trillion dollar global fashion industry. We are joined by Dani Loftus, the founder of This Outfit Does Not Exist, a platform bringing digital fashion to life. Dani is also a founding member of RedDAO, a digital fashion DAO that is investing in NFTs and startups in the digital fashion ecosystem.
Dani has seen this space evolve since its early days, making her the ideal guest to unpack the rapidly changing digital fashion scene.
We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did!
Must listen for Creators
Li and Nathan are the best. I enjoy the episodes very much. Their insights into the current state and the future of creator economy is spot on.