Ignore it or embrace it. The world of Web3 is here to change the way we do content. Shifting the power from a selected few to the consumers, brands on Web3 are no longer at the mercy of the algorithm.
Unlike Web2 media, Web3 doesn’t come with a marketing playbook and requires consistent experimentation. This is when creatives such as Straith Schreder come into play. As executive creative director at Palm NFT Studio, Schreder has been the go-to person of many brands. One can say that she knows your audience and she will deliver exactly what they want.
Straith Schreder is a speaker at CoinDesk's Consensus festival in April.
Schreder is also one of the creatives behind "IRL", a podcast that dives deep into digital media literacy. "IRL" has opened debates about important subjects including net neutrality, free speech, disinformation and data privacy. Most importantly, it consistently questions the difference between our online and offline identities.
“We could debate the performative aspect of being online and sort of see it through this moral or amoral lens like it's bad to perform online,” she says. “Or we could see it as something that is liberating and powerful in terms of crafting your identity and figuring out who you are.”
At Palm NFT Studio, Schreder has worked with names including DC Comics (Superman!, Batman!) and Damien Hirst, the controversial British artist. Her experience with the Web3 audience has allowed Schreder to understand the changing dynamic between brands and their community members.
“I think being able to work on projects that allow us to engage with technology in a different way – in a critical way – feels creatively very exciting,” she says. “And it also feels historically important because we're trying to look at ways where we can change the dynamic relationship that we have between creator and fan to build a paradigm that is more collaborative and participatory.”
As the world of Web3 brand building continues to evolve, we reached out to Straith Schreder to understand her experience in this industry.
This interview has been lightly edited.
If you had to compare the media and crypto industries, would you say they are more alike than they are different?
I worked pretty extensively at Vice with their commercial and editorial teams. And I worked on Mozilla, an internet health platform, looking at the way that technology and digital culture intersects with and relates to the way that we show up online and in real life, too. For me, decentralization is kind of one of the key issues and the imperatives of our time. Looking at how we can use this format and use this industry to shape, to sustain and nurture resilient, creative culture is really important to me.
For marketers, too, working in Web2 media has so many challenges. You have to publish on countless social platforms and you have to publish constantly. You have to choose your audience in many ways. That's not an audience that you own. And it's also not necessarily the best experience for fans. So looking at what's happening in the media landscape and what we can do to begin to build a more resilient, promising and more representative media culture, I think that will happen in Web3. This kind of what led me to Palm.
You produced a podcast called "IRL" about the difference between our online and offline identities. What did you learn about yourself by doing that?
I think in many ways spending time with this issue, talking to experts about this issue through our work like with "IRL" has changed my understanding of how we show up online. There's another artist whose work interrogates this really powerfully. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Maya Man, but looking at kind of generative art as a way of explaining and exploring the way that we show up online can be really powerful, too. Which is what her work does really well.
In truth, there's no way to be yourself online because every online space is so mediated. That doesn't need to be a bad thing, though, because you can express yourself in new ways and try on different identities. You have more avenues now to figure out who you are. And I think that's a really powerful thing. So we could debate the performative aspect of being online and sort of see it through this moral or amoral lens like it's bad to perform online. Or we could see it as something that is liberating and powerful in terms of crafting your identity and figuring out who you are. So there's that piece of it, too.
How has your experience working with DC been? Is it tough reinventing a brand in Web3?
One of the things that I've taken away from that project is that there's a lot of diversity in the audiences that we work in and giving them as many ways as possible to participate in a project is really powerful. In the case of DC, we're looking at an audience that is on the surface largely a Web2 audience. At the same time those users, like 60% of them, came to our platform already owning crypto. So there's kind of a mainstreaming of the technology that is real, and that overlaps with some of these core collector audiences. I think what's powerful is that we've been able to reach these existing DC collector fans and we've also been able to create new fans.
One of the projects that we're working on with DC is called the Backhaul Collection and a key feature of that project is that holders collectors of this project can vote on and shape the first [non-fungible token] comic. So they're contributing to the canon in a really impactful way. They're creating comics with DC for the first time. They're meeting with the artists on Discord and they're casting the votes that determine what happens next.
Could you explain Palm's role in Damien Hirst’s “Currency” art project – and what does it feel like being a part of art history?
One of the things that is really cool about that project, similar to what we've been working on with DC, is this notion of participatory artwork. Again, to collect the currency is to make a choice about what happens next in the trajectory of that project. To be a part of that project is to participate in its making, because what Hirst asked of collectors was to make this fundamental choice about digital value – do you hold on to the NFT or do you decide to burn a painting?
And the fact that about half of people have decided to keep the digital piece tells us a lot about the power of digital ownership. So I think being able to work on projects that allow us to engage with technology in a different way – in a critical way – feels creatively very exciting. And it also feels historically important because we're trying to look at ways where we can change the dynamic relationship that we have between creator and fan to build a paradigm that is more collaborative and participatory.
Have NFTs actually helped anyone in the creator economy?
For me that's the power and the potential of NFTs. What I think that NFTs can begin to do is give us the tools and the language for what's possible with creativity. And that to me is really exciting. On a format level, looking at generative works that can create the conditions for more people to have unique experiences with art. And to be able to collect something that truly is one of one, something that speaks to them, is really important.
The idea that you could compress the space between worlds feels really cool. You can have an approach to royalties and remuneration that is truly artists first feels incredibly significant. So I think my hope is that, especially for what we work on as a studio, is to continue to push for what's possible when it comes to proving this out as a medium that will support artists and will kind of create a canvas for the worlds that we could build next.
How will Web3 build trust and support with Web2 customers? Will Web2 customers be able to make the shift easily?
That is the challenge that we're navigating right now, too. I think that for as much opportunity as Web2 media offers creators, brand and [intellectual property], there are still very real challenges around the cost of viewership, awareness and strat in these spaces. And I think that there are onboarding challenges to Web3, too, but I also think that there are clear and increasingly proven strategies around how this technology can work to engage audiences and build audiences and begin to build really durable and valuable relationships between artists and fans. As focus continues to be placed on technology and the infrastructure itself, I think that we'll begin to see even more brand adoption of Web3 platforms.
If you could show someone a piece of NFT to sell them the idea of Web3, what would it be?
I think one of the pieces that to me means a lot is one that I own from the collection, “Fake It Till You Make It” by Maya Man. It is something that comments on a viral belief system so eloquently and means a lot to me. But might it not be everybody's cup of tea.
It definitely looks like my cup of tea. I’ll check it out!
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