We Asked Performers About Their Digital Content Strategies.
Here's what we learned.
Web Monetization for the Arts started with questions that arose during the Covid 19 pandemic. With performance calendars cancelled and gigs disrupted, the pandemic was devastating for freelance artists and small performing arts groups. Shut out from in-person performance, many artists took their work online. Some chose to stream live performances via Facebook or YouTube. Others began offering online courses.
Web Monetization for the Arts started with some questions: Will this change be permanent? Will performing artists continue to put original content online? Is that the new expectation for artists? If it is, knowing how much work generating original digital content can be and how little monetary reward for it there is, how can we help artists develop financially viable and sanity-sustaining online content strategies?
Web Monetization for the Arts Survey
In spring 2022 we set out to survey freelance classical musicians, independent performing artists, and small performing arts organizations about their digital content strategies. We contacted thousands of artists and organizations. We wanted to know how many were making original digital content. How were they sharing it? What were they using it for? What were they optimizing for? Impressions? Shares? Engagement? Monetization? None of the above?
Our survey also sought to gauge respondents’ familiarity with Web Monetization, an internet protocol that allows for streaming payments. More than just “making money online,” Web Monetization is a new way of putting content online and sidesteps the tradeoff between monetization and visibility creators face with paywalls. We wanted to see if our audience was aware of it.
Over a few months we received responses from groups all over the United States, representing small to midsize organizations. The majority of respondents (69%) were individual artists/creators. Most (72%) were musicians. Eighty percent of respondents stated that they create original digital content.
We asked respondents if they had received revenue from this online content in the past two years. 35% said Yes. 65% said No.
When asked how they monetize online content, the top answers were donation, ticketing/sales, and none of the above.
When asked how they measure the effectiveness of their digital content, respondents gave equal weight to acquisition, interaction, and reach (views) at 18% and conversion, publicity, and revenue at 10%-12%. Twelve percent of respondents stated that they don’t measure effectiveness.
Concerns about posting content online were also evenly spread between concerns about generating income, fraud/theft of content, infringing on intellectual property of others, and receiving proper credit for their work.
Web Monetization for the Arts is a course on streaming payments designed for classical musicians and small performing arts groups. The project is funded by Grant for the Web.