With the various gatekeepers that have controlled the arts industry over the years, becoming a known artist requires hard work and —on more occasions than one would like—good luck. Simply put, it can be hard being an artist. Today, artists can use the best of Web 2.0 and the most innovative aspects of Web3 to create more art, that can be digitally held. As important as these benefits is the fact that now artists can use all sorts of marketplaces and newly available showcases that tend to be more open and usually work with different rules than what the traditional art intelligentsia has set out over the course of the years.
Of course, being able to be recognized as the creator of one particular digital artwork —when in previous content was shared without attributions with almost total impunity— is tremendously valuable to artists. However, the lowering of the entry barriers to becoming a content creator —that is, an artist in this case— are ones that should be explored.
Creating a community around artists
First off, you have to say that creating a community isn’t something that is unique to the new iteration of Internet known as Web3. Artists can use all sorts of social media channels to create a community centered around their particular vision and aesthetic taste. Before NFTs, this had a limited potential, because it’s always an auction house that has to organize the sale from one collector to another to get some sort of name recognition for the artist. Today, we have more people getting to buy art want through many different means.
It also means that the traditional gatekeepers, that curate art exhibitions —not that this is inherently bad, as this curation can be educational— are not the only way to view and acquire art. The creation of taste can be put in the hands of regular people. With the understanding that there will be influential and trusted art connoisseurs that can drive attention to a particular piece of artwork, collection or artist.
A Web3 community, however, takes on a new dimension of empowerment for both artists and community members or followers. This is because of the smart contract functionality that can be used in organizations. So, what can you use smart contracts for to engage with your community? Well, basically allow for the governance of an artistic project. That could be an art gallery, jumping pad for new artists, a platform, and so much more.
Artists tend to be the connection of many different people. That person is usually the one responsible for the reach and impact to many people. Regardless of any distribution network that might be owned by a large conglomerate. This is the case of music. And one case of a musician trying to remove intermediaries to connect with his community is rapper Nas, who earlier this year released an NFT collection with famous DJ, 3lau. The NFT collection was dropped on the DJ’s platform Royal, and include the tracks “Rare” and “Ultra black”. The main benefit is that the holders can become part-owners of the song, and receive streaming royalties that the song get. The collection generated more than $500.000.
What this means for artists in the music industry is that they can involve those that support them in their success. It’s a great way to show commitment to an artist, and not just sit idly as a passive consumer, whose only means of showing support is through the buying of merchandise, tickets and streaming of music.
So, whether you take the Web 2.0 approach to simply promote your NFT art, or take the Web3 route to empower your followers, there is big opportunities thanks to the ability to create communities with art the center of it all. Artists have to take note of this, and have a strategy for whichever path they choose to take.
A more democratic arts landscape
Reducing the entry barriers is not something that is exclusively beneficial to artists. Art galleries and museums are embracing some of the Web3 key tenets, such as decentralized governance and transparency. When a member of the general public becomes part of the decision-making process, then you can start curating art and having exhibitions in accordance to more democratic principles. This would be a massive change in the arts industry.
Web3 communities exist no only for the purpose of expressing, communicating and exchanging information. They also are there to become more empowered within a specific topic. So, the members of such communities might join a DAO where they have a means to govern a community. And so, if agreements are made, the community can buy together a piece of valuable art. As they buy more art, perhaps the natural evolution of such an organization could be to lend their artwork in exchange for a fee. Or open up an operation where they could charge a fee to people to view their artwork —a museum, basically—.
As is usual with humans, this new democratic way of operating will not discourage the appearance of experts. Current experts, academics and various members of the art intelligentsia will still be able to thrive in Web3. And people will always look for them to some sort of approved and official criteria that validates someone’s work. With this mind, let’s remind ourselves that blockchain is transparent. This means that all transactions are forever recorded in this digital ledger. This also means that you can look at the previous owners of a given work of art, and if there is a famous previous owner, that stamp of approval might make the NFT art gain in value. So there will still be room for value creation for this type of influence.
A new and democratic arts industry —with low barriers of entry— is emerging. Artists should be on the look out to get the best of this landscape. This is because of the fact the low entry-barrier might consolidate quickly, as startups get bought out and platforms start to become part of major corporation.
In this landscape, SOPRG art gallery is looking to provide artists with representation to give them the best opportunities to succeed in the NFT art space. They have know-how with regards to the technology, the legal aspects, converting a physical painting into an NFT, and even have invested in metaverse real-estate, specifically Somnium Space.