We all know change is afoot. This change will be primarily driven by technology and is bound to impact content creation and financial freedom.

We have seen the pandemic fast track the growth of independent creators seeking to control their content and monetise it for themselves. As the world changes faster than ever before it becomes interesting to think of ways that traditional hierarchies recede into the background giving way to a more egalitarian one.

What if one such way were eliminating the need for money from the process of creation and focusing on a barter of services with a profit sharing model and retention of rights by the creators?

What if we applied a more ‘open source’ approach to content creation? Imagine a universe where costumes, props, locations, equipment are pooled in, free of cost, for a defined period of time. Each of the ‘creators’ have the freedom to use their costumes, set designs, props on their personal social media accounts and monetise them after completion of the shoot. As an example, building VR and AR capabilities that invite consumers to pay and experience the sets or immerse themselves in the scene. Heads of departments could innovate new avenues for revenue generation that would allow them to pay their teams as well thus creating a self sustainable model.

The profit/royalty generated from the movie/show release on a self publishing platform can be split between the core team that work on the film. Earnings can be deferred till the project is completed and distributed. The degree of risk will depend on the scale of the project. 

We saw the fight for rights of lyricists, singers and composers, undertaken by Javed Akhtar at the cost of being personally isolated and banned by film producers and studios. It resulted in freedom from the unfair stranglehold of music companies and film producers. Most contracts used to withhold all current and future copyright across all current and future mediums outside of the film purview. Today, the creators enjoy 12.5% each from the royalties made outside the film. It was a long overdue amendment that came after many renown lyricists and composers died in penury despite having contributed richly to the music legacy of Indian films. In 2018, Javed Akhtar, while head of IPRS (Indian Performing Rights Society), distributed an approximate 13 Crores among 2800 musicians as royalties derived from synchronisation across ads, television and other mediums.

It is a matter of time before all those who create any form of art will realise the importance of retaining copyright and control or at least ensuring appropriate clauses introduced in contracts to protect their rights.

Several movies and projects have already used crowdfunding or self publishing avenues to circumvent the dependence on traditional, hierarchical institutions. As technology provides easier and cheaper access to monetisation methods or online creator markets, we will see a growth in this kind of collaboration and it will lead to freedom of work, ownership of assets, long term wealth creation and financial independence.

References :

Sharma, Priyanka. (2018, April 23). 'Javed Akhtar distributes Rs 13 crore worth TV synchronisation royalty to musicians.' Indian Express. Retrieved from https://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/javed-akhtar-indian-performing-rights-society-iprs-5148564/
LyricsMint. (n.d.) 'Javed Akhtar's speech in Rajyasabha on Copyright Amendment Bill 2010.' LyricsMint.com Retrieved 2022, Mar 15 from https://lyricsmint.com/articles/javed-akhtars-speech-in-rajyasabha-on

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