One of the factors hamstringing cryptocurrency adoption is the relative lack of things one can do with it. Similar to the internet’s early days, when the learning curve was high and the benefits non-essential, most people just don’t have a compelling reason to go through the hassle of converting their fiat currency into Bitcoin or other tokens.
Creating just such an incentive, then, is key. One obvious possibility is the entertainment industry, a world-spanning juggernaut that is a vital part of the lives of billions. If crypto can be flawlessly woven into the act of making, distributing, or consuming media, expect the masses to familiarize themselves with the technology very quickly. As a ghost once said to Kevin Costner, “If you build it, they will come.”
Executive Crowd Producers
One established use case in the entertainment industry is to take a page from crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, and use altcoins as a method for getting a movie production up and running.
Christopher Woodrow, the producer behind Birdman and Black Mass, has launched MovieCoin to this end. The benefits run twofold – the token functions like a security, giving the owner a share of the movies being produced, and by putting up all the expenditures on the blockchain, investors can see for themselves that the production is on time, on budget, and free of graft.
MovieCoin would likely be more of a gamne-changer if not for recent SEC movements on regulating ICOs like securities (which, to be fair, MovieCoin is). But such interference aside, it expands the number of people who can take part in funding movies far beyond the elite cadre of banks and investors who have dominated the industry up to now.
Another experiment in fusing crowdfunding, crypto, and cinema, is the Ethereum Movie Venture, which sold out its ICO in a matter of weeks back in 2017. Partly a proof of concept, partly a way to advertise Ethereum’s potential, the EMV has wisely started small, opting to fund only one movie, The Pitts Circus Family, a documentary about a traveling family of performers in Australia which is currently making the festival circuit.
A Gate or a Key?
As well as using crypto to fund movies, both EMV and MovieCoin are also promoting a crypto as a payment use-case. With the EMV’s documentary, it’s possible the coin will used to unlock the movie from a pay-per-view service in the future. MovieCoin is also floating the possibility that customers can pay for DVDs, Blu-Rays, or VoD services with the currency.
This seems like an odd way to promote one’s token. Why would an end-user want to go through the trouble of converting their fiat currency into a specialized altcoin which only exists to watch a small amount of programming? In the modern entertainment landscape of Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc. gating content this way is likely to prove self-defeating.
That’s why TaTaTu’s model is intriguing. The company, recently flush with $100 million in financing and a beta version of its app due for release in July of 2018, is turning the VoD business model on its head with the help of its own cryptocurrency, the TTU. Unlike EVM and MovieCoin, TaTaTu is going to pay users in crypto for using its service. The more users watch, share, and invite their friends, the more TTU they’ll receive. Of course, there’s little daylight on how this will actually make money for the company, how much a TTU will actually be worth, or what kind of premium content is going to attract users, but the concept remains fascinating, and definitely worth monitoring. TaTaTu’s ICO is currently underway, though unfortunately not available to US citizens.
While it feels inevitable that crypto and blockchain will disrupt the movie industry, it’s hard to say exactly how it’s going to turn out. We’re still waiting for that third act twist.