Over the past few months, it has become more than apparent that conversations about the Metaverse will only continue to increase exponentially and pervasively, appearing in realms beyond fine art and finance. This new way of evaluation comes from recognising that our obsession with the quick convenience of mass production has begun to affect how we value things that are not mass produced, and one particularly vulnerable category of 'goods' is none other than the all-too-familiar online content.
Regardless whether it has high production value or not, this is especially problematic for those who are looking to turn their voice into a source of income. Performance arts like music and dance are hard to easily quantify in terms of value because what they provide is an ephemeral experience, and what makes one work do better than another can be vague and honestly, completely irrational. It is perfectly normal to see a professionally recorded stage performance and an iPhone-shot TikTok video amass the same number of views or reactions, then watch someone else copy and achieve the same feat.
Even if Instagram didn't have an algorithm, leading a life driven by passion can be too tough to sustain. The pandemic has only exacerbated this problem; making it harder for newer creators to find their footing when there are over 50 million people around the world who also identify as a 'creator' today. This is where RepubliK, a social video platform for creators backed by Binance Labs, the world's largest blockchain exchange, comes in.
Centered around music, dance and other performative arts (skateboarding, parkour, art, etc), it creates a more equitable value exchange between creators and fans by bridging the gap, helping creators take ownership to monetise their content, and build communities. We speak to Felix Huang, one of the founders of RepubliK and a leading figure in Singapore's street dance scene, to share more about how his experience as a creator informs the capabilities of this platform, and why it can make a difference in offering an alternative space to better sustain passions.
ESQ: As someone who has witnessed the local dance scene grow to the large community that it is today, what made you see the need for a platform like this to exist?
FELIX HUANG: Dancers, like many other artists and content creators, spend a lot of time creating and posting content on various social media platforms for public consumption. Most platforms only favour the ultra successful i.e. the top 2% and the remaining 98% are left with nothing. We believe there is a more equitable way to distribute value in the digital creator economy and I think this became more apparent when the pandemic hit us, and most artists and performers were left with very little options to monetise their talents with on-going live performance restrictions. Regardless whether we can return to a pre-pandemic state or not, we believe that creators need to explore more ways in the digital realm to better enable sustainability in doing what they love doing, and RepubliK aims to be one of the platforms to provide new tools to facilitate this.
ESQ: What makes RepubliK different from Youtube/Tiktok/Patreon? How will a creator benefit from uploading work on RepubliK as compared to the aforementioned platforms?
HUANG: Most other platform's primary source of revenue comes from selling advertising through eyeballs, or paying a subscription or donation. RepubliK will be powered by blockchain technology, and smart-contracts to enable direct exchanges of value between the creators and their audience. This increases engagement between them in mutually beneficial ways, allowing them instead of the platform to reap the majority share of profits.
ESQ: Tell us more about how this project came about. What are your thoughts about the relationship between more commercial forms of content creation and cryptocurrency?
HUANG: When I first experienced the use of crypto-currency in 2017, I saw that it had the potential to benefit the creator economy. But when the copious amounts of pandemic-induced restrictions crippled the organisation of physical events Radikal Forze Jam and Summer Jam Dance Camp in 2020, I decided that I needed to do something in the virtual space while I had the new luxury of time to develop something new, especially since I also realised that the world was also on the verge of a digital and virtual transformation. Stripping down the essentials of what my events were at its core, I realised that it was to bring people together to exchange and challenge each other in the crafts they are passionate about, build connections, and bring value to each other through these experiences. So I took these core ideas, spoke to a couple of friends, and developed it collectively into what it is today.
ESQ: The official Instagram page has language translations in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese. Who is RepubliK's target audience?
HUANG: Creators everywhere who want to create more value for what they do and their supporters who want to engage with them in ways never before possible
ESQ: If I am not a creator myself, how can I still be a part of this community?
HUANG: The audience will play a big part in our ecosystem with new ways to interact with creators. Voting for your favourite content in various contests, participating in the investment into talent and watching your creators grow together with you, staking on contests and creators, are the few of many new ways to engage communities on the platform as an audience.
ESQ: From Radikal Forze to RepubliK, what is one thing you have learned about working for your passion?
HUANG: It's never easy working for what you are passionate about, you need to have the perseverance and tenacity to keep pushing through hurdles that are immediately in front of you whilst keeping your long-term vision in view. Find, align, and work together with a team and community that has the different skill-sets required for the best route of success financially and spiritually for everyone involved. But most importantly, keep focusing on what your core priorities are but also be open to new ideas and change. In this era that we live in, opinions and experience often become obsolete really quickly, so the only way to keep moving forward is to constantly evolve along the journey should the need arise, with your eye on the prize.
ESQ: You have been holding 1v1 contests on Instagram over the past few months. Before the official launch of RepubliK's app later this year, what can we look forward to?
HUANG: We are going to constantly be building relationships and events with various communities who are passionate about their craft, and also launching a Creator Only Token Sale in Q1 2022 to be able to give the best benefits to the creators who join us early.
Find out more about RepubliK.