In March 2021 I wrote a piece that called out the Web3 meme and the convoluted schemes that shitcoin projects were/are attempting: to have their tokens monetize content. In that piece, I highlighted Sphinx as an application built on the Bitcoin protocol/Lightning Network protocol (BP/LNP) stack that was proving that content monetization would likely happen by injecting bitcoin via the Lightning Network into different content mediums. Well, here we stand 17 months later and the trend has accelerated dramatically. I figured it’d be a good time to check in on this particular vertical and highlight some of the cool projects being built.
Podcasting 2.0 has, in my opinion, the potential to be bitcoin’s first killer app outside of using bitcoin as a sound savings vehicle. I’ve been using it for almost two years now with “Tales From The Crypt” and “Rabbit Hole Recap” and the amount of sats flowing and number of people streaming them have only been increasing since we first added Lightning Network public addresses to our RSS feeds. More apps have integrated Podcasting 2.0 into their services.
Podcasting 2.0 is just the tip of the iceberg, though. The model has stoked inspiration in builders across the world and we are beginning to see more and more applications and tooling come to market that will make content mediums of all types monetizable via the Lightning Network. Alby is a browser extension wallet that makes it easy to pay Lightning invoices as you surf the web. Mash is a toolkit that content creators like myself can leverage to monetize written, audio and video content as well as user interactions as they engage with certain features (likes, voting, comments, etc.). Wavlake is a company working to bring the Podcasting 2.0 model to the music industry (among other verticals), allowing musicians to post their audio files, syndicate them out to users and have users stream value over Lightning as they listen. That gives those musicians the ability to split payments to everyone else involved in the production of their art automatically.
These are but a few of the companies that come to mind when thinking about the explosion of activity going on in this particular corner of the Bitcoin economy.
What’s so exciting about all of these applications and tools is that they will begin to allow creators and their audiences to experiment with new business models that were never before possible before the emergence of the BP/LNP stack. For instance, Fountain has incorporated a podcast clipping feature that enables listeners to get paid for clipping certain sections of podcast episodes. If other Fountain users like a particular clip that you have clipped they can boost you for the work of surfacing that microcontent.
Creating revenue streams for listeners is a very untapped design space that should breed some mind-bending experiments. Not only can listeners get paid, but this particular mechanism introduces an organic avenue through which to surface the best content. Instead of depending on some black box algorithm to put content in front of you, the curated content will be user generated and driven by the value assigned to it by the network of users within the app. Since real value (sats) is on the line, the cream should rise to the top.
I love that most of the traditional Silicon Valley venture capitalists and everyone else enamored with the extremely complicated world of “Web3” are sleeping on these developments on top of Bitcoin. There seems to be an inability for these types to back anything or build anything that doesn’t have a rent-seeking token attached to it. The signal lies in everything discussed in this rag and all of the other projects like them that haven’t been mentioned. There is real, concrete infrastructure being built out that will have long-lasting staying power in the Bitcoin economy while the “Web3” types get completely distracted by the shitcoin flavor of the month.