Using Blockchain in Digital Media Industry
We recently interviewed Emil Sterndorff, Founder & CEO of Altcoin Magazine. We explored challenges related to the digital media industry and how blockchain based technologies can help. We discussed topics such as how blockchains cut out intermediaries, ways to improve monetization for content creators, and how this will lead to better content overall.
What inspired you to launch a magazine about crypto and blockchain technology?
When I was taking a look at the industry, I saw a lack of innovation from the content platforms, and we wanted to create a platform where more people are involved. When you go to another crypto site, you can almost be certain that the content is written because the authors got paid for it. Whereas on our platform, our writers write and distribute content out of pure passion.
In the future, we do plan to monetize by introducing ways that our content producers can earn money. However, right now we are more like the early stage of YouTube where content wasn’t monetized.
What are the current challenges of the digital media industry?
There is a lack of innovation. Technology is advancing really fast, but when it comes to content platforms, they’re lagging behind in both design and UI & UX.
Another challenge is the reliance on a middleman. These intermediaries are taking a substantial portion of the revenue generated from content production. Not to mention that without a blockchain, payment processing can be prolonged unnecessarily.
We also see a challenge regarding who owns the content. By publishing on a blockchain, we can guarantee ownership protection, which means the rightful author maintains ownership of the content they produce.
Another benefit of publishing content on a blockchain is we can eliminate the risk of data loss and prevent censorship. We’ve seen platform censorship on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. With YouTube, some videos are being censored even when they don’t violate the terms and conditions. Lastly, with blockchain based content platforms we can find innovative ways to monetize content that’s better for both the creator and consumer.
How can digital media publishers and content creators use blockchain?
Blockchain technology in the publishing industry will be great for content ownership and for eliminating middlemen, both of which will help creators monetize content more effectively.
Many content creators are making money on YouTube, however a substantial portion of their revenue goes to the content platform and to payment processors. Blockchains enable creator and consumer to work peer to peer which will increase the profitability of the creator and lead to higher quality content.
How can digital creative content be protected on the blockchain?
So a blockchain is like a table of information, which means that once an article or video has been published, it’s linked to both timestamp and an author. The nature of blockchain allows us to build apps on top, which means that you can approach copyright and plagiarism in novel ways.
I think it’s an issue that digital content can easily be copied all around the world. What we need instead is a platform that can ensure that content is protected and only distributed when access is granted by the owner.
What opportunity does the blockchain bring to independent publishers?
As with any centralized platform like Medium.com, content can be lost due to an error in the code or if their site is taken down. This risk will be mitigated by the decentralized storage of the data.
When should a digital media company implement blockchain?
I’ve seen many interesting projects being built around content distribution on blockchain. However, it gets really interesting when the big companies like Medium or YouTube implement blockchain. Currently, most small companies will struggle to implement blockchain right now because it’s still very complicated.
I think it’s better to build a large user base now and then later implement blockchain in a way that the user won’t even know it’s blockchain.
What are some interesting blockchain use cases in the digital media industry?
The most interesting blockchain enabled use case is improving the payment process for content creators. We can remove the middlemen which means that we will have quicker payouts for the content creators and there will be much lower fees.
In my opinion, middlemen are completely irrelevant. Both payment processors and banks will be displaced. We are building a platform around this very concept, making sure that our content creators are paid directly, without middlemen, and at the lowest fees possible.
What is preventing digital media companies from implementing the blockchain technology?
Right now it’s too early, but I see it as a big thing in the future when blockchain is mainstream. In order for companies like ours to implement blockchain, the solutions need to be easy for us to implement.
Another issue I see right now is that the content creators might feel reluctant to learn new technology, making it harder for companies to acquire content creators. This is something that will be solved over time.
What is the next step of the technological development of your magazine?
Right now, we’re going through a lot of changes. Just a few months ago, we received funding from a company called BLOCK5. They invest in blockchain startups. Since then, we’ve been focused on building our own platform.
We started on Medium.com, but now we’re building our own website where we will be focusing on more than just articles. We’ll be implementing videos, podcasts, and of course, articles and news. We will focus a lot more on monetization than most other platforms. It’s a place where everyone can contribute.
We believe most other platforms struggle with sustainable monetization strategies and their transparency can be improved. We will be building our platform around Bitcoin, which is an already established means of payment, and this will allow us to enable microtransactions, which is currently not possible with other platforms.
If you were to summarize 3 main reasons why the digital media industry should adopt the blockchain…
The first one would be monetization and the removal of middlemen. So this is where blockchain gets really interesting because we no longer need people to do what code can do.
The second one is, as I mentioned earlier, content can be lost if there’s an error in the code or if there is a server that breaks down and with blockchain, the data is decentralized. So if one computer goes down, then it will be found on another computer.
Finally, the third reason is blockchain helps with the protection of ownership. With blockchain, you will always know who originally published the article as they will have their name attached and can prove they own the content. We basically need data protection to make sure that people can’t claim ownership of content that isn’t theirs. It’s a big issue we see on all the other platforms, and I think that blockchain can help eliminate that.
For example, YouTube is a place where you can publish content, and you can earn money on it. You can even publish other people’s content and earn money on it. YouTube is actually implementing code into their platform that detects if data is duplicated. Then YouTube can pay the original content creator for their work. Blockchains will be able to do this process even better.
How do you envision blockchain changing the world?
I see blockchain being implemented in almost every industry. I see anything from the local grocery store to the local construction company.
How do you think the market for the blockchain-based solutions will evolve?
Solutions will be simplified over time. I think the best approach is to make blockchain something you can implement with the push of a button.
In terms of my own industry, I think we will evolve away from tokenized businesses and more into businesses that are built on blockchain. The biggest opportunity is to build your company around Bitcoin and perhaps the other major cryptocurrencies. That’s why I always say the world needs more Bitcoin businesses rather than tokenized ones.
BBH Guest: Emil Sterndorff, Founder & CEO of Altcoin Magazine
As Founder and CEO of Altcoin Magazine, he is on a mission to educate the world on new technological advancements primarily in the financial sector. Emil believes that disruption is heavily needed within the industries of finances and asset management with the use of blockchain. More than 350 people are currently contributing to the creation of this magazine.