If We Build It, Will You Come?
It's harder than ever to make it as a creative. Here's an idea that might help.
Would you pay $5 a month to stream original content from independent performing artists and performing arts organizations? All it would cost you — $5. For that $5 a month you would be introduced to performers, artists, and arts organizations all over the country. You could watch their videos, hear their original recordings, and share your own work.
I’m talking about turning Raft into a platform for discovering the performing arts. So in addition to reading about the arts and art history, you could watch and listen to the people who are making work right now.
Raft’s mission is threefold: to re-imagine critical writing about the arts; to make American art history more accessible and discoverable; and to help artists build sustainable careers. Let’s zero in on that last piece.
Today it’s harder than ever to make it as a creative. Sure, there are plenty of tools for making and getting your work out there, as they say. But the curation is lacking. The big streaming platforms are popularity contests. The nonprofit arts are not popular.
Over the past two years I have been working on a tool for selling and gating content online. It’s called Monetized. Building Monetized taught me a lot about the payments ecosystem. There are dozens of new companies and emerging technologies in this space, all aiming to solve the problem of getting creators paid for their online content. Substack, the platform we use to produce this magazine, is one of these companies. It allows writers and publishers to get paid directly from their subscribers. (We haven’t turned on paid subscriptions for Raft yet. It’s estimated that only 1-2% of free subscribers for any Substack will go paid. But we might try that in the future.)
Another emerging technology is called Web Monetization, an open protocol and proposed standard for the web that allows for streaming payments.
The beauty of Web Monetization lies in its simplicity. You pay $5 a month to a payment processor called Coil, and Coil sends your money in the form of micropayments to creators according to how much time you spend enjoying their content. You pay Coil; Coil pays creators.
In theory it’s a simple solution to the problem of monetization. In practice, it’s proving more difficult to implement. For starters, content creators must have a large number of Web Monetization members coming to their site.
So I put the question to you: Would you pay $5 a month for access to a site for streaming and purchasing performing arts content? Building such a site is within our capabilities. What I want to know: Will people use it?
Raft Community Zoom meeting: Tuesday. February 7 at 6 PM Eastern.
Tell me what role Raft plays in your life. What more would you like it to be? Would you like it to be a streaming platform? I can also answer any questions about Web Monetization and help you get started with it.
Register for the Zoom session here. Registration is required.