In the last few years, the sharing economy - the emergence of online transactions fueled by open-source technology and the peer-to-peer exchange of goods and services - has experienced tremendous growth in both its user base and the number of projects entering the space.
The emergence of the sharing economy, with blockchain projects existing as some of its most promising outcomes, is transforming everything around us. Not least of which will be the digital entertainment industry.
A New Economy
A recent report from PwC predicted that the sharing economy will be worth $335 billion by 2025. This may mostly have been driven by the relatively well-established players like Uber and Airbnb, but much of the sharing economy's future growth could be propelled by the digital entertainment sector, one that appears to be increasingly built around blockchain solutions.
As this segment grows, people may be able to freely store, publish and trade content without ever having to depend on centralized institutions.
Traditionally, content creators had to go through intermediaries such as Google and Facebook to reach an audience. These intermediaries took a huge chunk of the revenues generated and could censor content for whatever reason they chose, which can limit people's freedom of expression and cause a lot of financial harm, among other things.
Peer-to-peer sharing of content ensures that creators get paid directly for their work and consumers get highly customized and quality content. Conventionally, content creators mostly earn money based on the number of clicks an advertisement placed on their content receives. There are many issues with this model for both publishers and users alike.
The decentralization of content storage and sharing will allow users to be in control of their data, which currently isn't the case. A recent example of user data privacy not taken seriously can be found in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal . But with blockchain technology taking the wheel, these challenges could soon come to an end.
Putting Blockchains Into Practice
A well-known project called TRON is working on advancing decentralized entertainment content sharing. TRON was founded by the Singaporean TRON Foundation and enables publishers to connect directly with consumers and get rewarded based on the popularity of their content. Consumers also receive incentives for interacting with content either through upvotes or redistribution.
TRX, the official cryptocurrency of TRON, is used as the medium of exchange on the platform and is usable as a payment method outside of the TRON platform as well. TRON has already secured partnerships with some major content distribution platforms and messengers across the globe.
One of their key partners is Peiwo app , China's largest voice content provider, with over 10 million users. The partnership with TRON enables app users to send tips to each other within the app using TRX tokens.
BitTorrent, one of the world's largest peer-to-peer file sharing platforms, is also working on a decentralized ecosystem powered by the TRX cryptocurrency. Through what it calls Project Atlas , the platform aims to make it possible for users to earn a reward for continuing to seed files after a download is complete.
BitTorrent enables individuals to download files faster from the internet by gathering pieces of the file to be downloaded from people who already have them. For this to happen, specialized software that remotely connects to different computers is used. When users finish downloading a file, they can decide to leave the software running so that other users can obtain the files from their computers. This process is known as "seeding," and it is becoming very popular.
Another strategic partner of TRON is Game.com , a blockchain-based gaming platform powered by cryptocurrencies. With the partnership, TRX is now one of the cryptocurrencies accepted on the platform for gaming activities such as in-app purchases.
TRON is not the only company trying to decentralize the digital entertainment industry. Opus , an Ethereum-based project, has introduced a platform on which musicians can publish their work and receive 100 percent of the profits. The project leverages the decentralized IPFS platform to store tracks, therefore reducing storage costs. IPFS is a content storage and sharing platform similar to the BitTorrent's Project Atlas.
Through smart contracts, Opus ensures that musicians receive rewards depending on the popularity of their music. Music fans also get rewarded for creating playlists and sharing them with their peers. All this is facilitated through the platform's digital token known as OPT. This cryptocurrency can also be used for payments outside of the platform as well.
With the rate at which the sharing economy is growing, there is no doubt that more blockchain-based solutions for the entertainment industry are yet to arrive. Projects such as TRON have already paved the way to a disruptive future, and it is for others to follow.