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The LBRY Economy

James Biller • Sep 6 2018

The Evolution of Content

For most of history all artistic content was tangible. Your eyes had to stare at the original canvas for you to enjoy the beauty of a painting. Your ears had to absorb the sound waves generated by locally played instruments in order to take pleasure in the beauty of a song's melody. To see a story played out, you had to be in the presence of actors on a stage. Enjoying a novel meant you had a physical copy of a book, which were sparse until the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440.

Over time, each medium of entertainment became more accessible due to technological evolution.

Paintings found their way onto prints, music found its way onto records, plays made their way onto film reels, and books became mass produced commodities.

This was the first wave of evolution, but then came another wave: the digital revolution.


Prints turned into .PNG files, music turned into .MP3 files, movies turned into .MP4 files, and books turned into .PDF files.

Even physical objects that used to require complex manufacturing processes made their way into 3D printable file formats like .STL and .OBJ, enabling one-click manufacturing for many objects.

Once media is formed into bytes (1s and 0s) it lives in a state of what's known as post-scarcity: the cost to recreate the work done to create the original file is near zero.

Each piece of content can now be played on the same piece of hardware: the computer. We take for granted that we walk around with paintings, recording studios, Hollywood sets, and printing presses in our pockets.

The major tech companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google now own three of the major media distribution platforms: iTunes, Kindle, and YouTube, respectively.

Amazon takes 30% for each eBook sold via Kindle, Apple takes 30% for each song sold via iTunes, and Google takes a whopping 45% of a YouTuber's ad revenue.


It's easy to point fingers at these corporations and say "Those greedy fat cats don't need such a big cut, after all, they're not even the ones creating the content!", but the fact is that the fat cats enabled the skinny cats (independent content creators) to get fatter.

Without YouTube, most YouTubers probably wouldn't be known. iTunes has allowed artists to monetize single songs, and Amazon enables eBooks to be sold to audiences who might not be interested in buying a physical copy of an author's book but are willing to pickup a discounted digital copy to store on their electronic device.

LBRY: Middleman-less Publishing

These corporations have largely bettered the playing field for content creators, but what they haven't done is created the ideal platform to share music on: one in which creators are supported directly by their fans without a corporation or third party in the way to censor their content or take a cut of their profit. This is exactly the value that LBRY provides as a decentralized content sharing protocol.

LBRY lets fans fund their favorite creators rather than advertisers (who couldn't care less about the content). It does so in two ways: bidding for channels/URLs, and enabling micropayments.

Currently if you want to own a URL like you'd have to buy it for a high price considering somebody already owns it, and the owner of the domain could decide not to sell it. On LBRY, you can actually outbid 'lbry://internet' by staking more Credits than the person claiming that URL.

Although it's true that a bad actor could post unrelated content by scooping popular claims, they are limited by the amount of resources they can stake and have to wait a certain period of time before they're able to take over an already existing claim with a higher bid. Since they won't be creating any value, it's unlikely to sustain in the long run.

Let's say you want to post content at lbry://nerd (since it's safe to say that you are one if you're reading this). In order to claim this URL you have to stake some amount of LBC (it can be any amount assuming the URL is untaken).

You want to sell a video of you walking around dressed up as Steve Urkel from Family Matters asking people what their favorite invention is (I would buy it).


You decide to stake 50 in LBC and set a price for your video of $.005 (the half penny is back!).

Sure, this content technically isn't free, (though most content on LBRY is free with a tipping option) but you would have to watch 200 videos at this rate just to spend a single dollar. The crazy thing? Most creators would actually make more money this way.

Now whenever people search "nerd" you'll be the first result to show up, and you'll automatically make half a penny in LBC anytime someone new wants to view the content.

Oh, and that half a penny goes towards the staking of lbry://nerd to help you keep your epic Steve Urkel video in its place on the decentralized network.

How does this differ from the traditional way of monetizing video content?

Well, if you want to use YouTube there is no bidding system for URLs. You simply come up with a name for a video and add tags, and YouTube reserves the right to make your content undiscoverable no matter how entertaining it is.

Oh, you're just starting out and you want to make money? Sorry, you have to have at least 1,000 subscribers before you can make any money, that is, if YouTube decides to run ads on your content..

With LBRY, your content is censorship resistant, and you remain in control of how you monetize it.

In other words, where and how you do business is up to you, not YouTube and its big-money advertisers.

The LBRY Economy draws upon true demand for content, rather than conflating the demands of advertisers with that of consumers. Direct support of content creators from their fans is best for both creators and their fans.

So, what are you waiting for? Download the LBRY App here today and take back control.

Know a YouTuber who's starting out or already has a large following? Let them know about our YouTube sync program where they can earn just for agreeing to make their channel available on LBRY.

Photo of James Biller
James Biller · · ·

James came to LBRY through Praxis, a company that offers apprenticeships to young entrepreneurial types.

Originally brought on to help with recruiting YouTubers, James showed up to the office with a 3D printed LBRYopoly board and was the original person who championed the use of the LBRY protocol for 3D printing.

He has a passion for philosophy, 3D printing, and writing fiction.