Consensus Creator Summit filled with optimism and caution

From June 9th to 12th, the Creator Summit of the Web3 Festival Consensus kicked off to explore the intersection between crypto and creator economies.

Here are our key takeaways from what the internet-obsessed, blockchain-loving developers and business leaders had to say at the event – including why blockchain is appealing to some digital artists; Advice on what Web3 creators should do while the crypto market is in the gutter; and the tension between the decentralized Web3 ideology and the talent and tech interests of big money.

Consensus is a 4-day Web3 festival covering topics related to blockchain-based technology: including cryptocurrencies; decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs); non-fungible tokens (NFTs); NFT-powered “Metaverse” virtual and augmented reality experiences; and the investment, funding and regulation of crypto. It is hosted by CoinDesk, a digital news outlet about the crypto economy.

Consensus has been held since 2015, and while previously held in New York City, this year’s event took place in downtown Austin, Texas — the festival’s first IRL since it went virtual in 2019. CEOs, politicians, professors, artists, investors and more took the stage to discuss Web3. This year, the festival also made a foray into the creator economy with a half-day ‘Creator Summit’, where businesspeople and creators could network about Web3 arts, finance and technology.

Most of the creators speaking at the summit were digital artists, some longtime crypto fanatics, and others just starting to sell their work as NFTs. In general, these artists often said that they were fed up with posting their digital works – such as photos, drawings and other creations – on social media without being rewarded by platforms, apart from likes, follows and maybe a small cut in advertising revenue or a creator fund.

Because their art can be tracked on a digital ledger (the blockchain), artists said they love the ability to clearly track their digital art and collect royalties for resale. Many artists referenced the “1,000 true fans” model, saying it was more sustainable for them to cultivate a niche superfan community willing to give them money, rather than trying to mass appeal and monetize with advertising to earn.

Despite the crypto market being in the gutter – in what investors and traders are calling a “bear market” – panellists remained hopeful and offered advice to Web3 creators amid a crypto downturn.

“If anything, this bear market takes away a lot of the noise and hype,” photographer and NFT artist Jose Silva said at a panel. “It’s a bit quieter and you can really focus on building.”

Business leaders shared a similarly optimistic view of the market, with some saying “bad actors” are being weeded out at this time when get-rich-quick is not an option. Panelists encouraged creators to take the time to detach themselves from the hype surrounding speculation to explore the real value they bring to online communities.

“You know that if you find the product market at the bottom of a bear market and not at the top of the market, you’re going to do pretty well,” marketing entrepreneur Amanda Cassatt, one of the key marketers behind popular cryptocurrency Ethereum, told a panel .

Cassatt, who co-founded Web3 marketing firm and product studio Serotonin, told Passionfruit that she started working on the company at the end of the last bear market.

“Because there was demand even under these conditions, we knew there was an incredible business to build,” she said. “We’ve since expanded our offering, expanding into recruiting and accounting, including launching a product studio that has outsourced software companies, starting with Mojito, with Sotheby’s and CAA, the leading NFT marketplace infrastructure. We continue to find opportunities in all market conditions, whether it’s hiring talent or testing and expanding our products and capabilities.”

The optimism was broken by frequent and welcome acknowledgments of the uglier side of Web3 – a volatile market currently at an extreme low; bad actors and cheating; anonymity, which raises issues of trust and accountability; and recentralization via a so-called “decentralized” blockchain-based world. This contrasts with the often overzealous speeches we’ve heard on other blockchain panels and offers a more informed perspective on the space.

Throughout the festival there was also a frequently discussed tension between the desire to keep Web3 decentralized – away from gatekeepers, big tech and wealthy traditional media institutions – while the apparent presence of suits and big money filled every single space.

Traditional business leaders operating in the Web3 and creator economy had the opportunity to share their side of the story, including during a talent management panel featuring representatives from two of the world’s largest talent agencies, United Talent Agency (UTA) and Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Some participants were skeptical of traditional talent agents getting involved with blockchain artists, viewing them as the gatekeepers of opportunity that they hoped Web3 would help prevent. However, these agents believe they can add value to creatives’ businesses as they can help manage contracts and day-to-day tasks and protect them from bad deals.

“I think it’s really important for these aspiring artists who have had a lot of success very quickly and very early in their careers to hire someone who will filter out opportunities and be their shield so that they can really focus on their creative work,” said Caroline Hooven, agent of UTA Web3, on the panel.

Some people brought up the idea of ​​the Web 2.5 age, a mix of large-scale enterprise and decentralized transactions on the blockchain. Many digital creatives at the event still appeared to be popular on Web2 social media platforms – with Twitter and Instagram still being an integral part of their everyday lives – and some appeared to be collaborating with brands and companies to further their careers.

Some panelists also pointed out that Web3 livelihoods are not always accessible – even when a person is talented – as luck, resources, connections and the ability to program or understand computers play a large role in a creator’s Web3 success to play.

Ameer Carter, an activist, archivist and designer, described a push for “public goods” to improve accessibility within the Web3 world. He mentioned how public parks, recreation centers, swimming pools, and other public spaces allow communities to form and build around them. He believes people should rally to support similar causes in Web3 through DAO grants and donations.

“We don’t support public goods enough in space,” Carter Passionfruit said in a Twitter message. “Many of us like public goods and want to see them, but when it comes to funding them, that support dwindles and disperses.”

Do you think we missed something important for the developers at Consensus? E-mail [email protected] to share your thoughts.


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Jaclyn Diaz

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