It's a brave new world and the days of middlemen scraping away the earnings of content creators are beginning to wane. With the advent of lightning network, Bitcoin's layer two scaling solution, we now have access to cheap & instant payments that open up a whole new realm of possibilities. The coming shift will benefit two types of people: those who consume and value high quality content, and those who create it. If your content is clickbait trash... sorry friend, you're gonna have a bad time.
Goodbye Middlemen, Hello Peer-To-Peer Relationships
For the uninitiated, sats are the smallest unit of a bitcoin, and there are 100,000,000 of them in every BTC. Think of them as cents to the dollar, but there are way more of them to accommodate the appreciating purchasing power of a finite supply money.
Lightning network is a peer to peer payments layer on top of Bitcoin with instant/cheap transactions that can handle millions of transactions per second. This allows anyone to easily pay for content on a per-minute basis, AKA "streaming sats". For instance, someone could say they're willing to pay 1 cent per minute of a podcast, and only pay for what they listen to. In a world where this becomes the norm, it is a godsend to those who put in the effort to create high quality content.
As a listener, you may opt to stream sats to your fav pod at a rate of around 20 sats/minute (close to 1 penny). If you listen to an hour-long podcast then you're out 60 cents. No sweat!
As a creator, let's say you've enjoyed a decent level of success and your episodes average 10,000 listens each. At $0.60/listener X 10,000 hits, you've just taken in $6000. The best part? Middlemen don't see a penny of that because you've received ever sat DIRECTLY peer to peer from a listener.
Above: Lightning dashboard "Thunderhub" showing a constant stream of micropayments from podcast listeners.
There are some other implications to consider as well.
As a content creator, if you create something people don't enjoy, they will turn it off. In a world of peer to peer listener/creator relationships, THE SATS STOP STREAMING WHEN YOU SUCK. This means creators are held to a higher bar to ensure they bring their A game, or they risk losing revenue. As a listener, this means you'll see the proliferation of better quality content, and if something comes up short you can cut off your support directly.
Given the revenue generated peer to peer, we may see sponsored content begin to diminish as well (though it certainly won't disappear). Why? If viewers opt out of episodes because of ads, it has a meaningful effect. Creators must balance revenue from sponsors against lost revenue from lower views/listens. When the math doesn't check out, the audience trumps sponsorship in a sat-streaming world. This is not currently the case on platforms like YouTube, etc, where the revenue from actual views is laughable after they take their cut. You effectively NEED sponsors if you want to continue to run your business.
How Do I Get Started?
Enough about the implications, how do you get on this train early? Well friend, you're in luck. Here are a series of videos to get you started on your sat-streaming journey. Before you dive in, please know that if you're just getting started in Bitcoin, these tutorials will be a journey. Take your time, soak it all in, ask questions, and enjoy the ride. If you haven't used Bitcoin or Lightning Network at all yet, then I recommend taking a step back and learning about Bitcoin Wallets and Lightning Wallets.
Run A Bitcoin Node
Does this already sound scary? Trust me, it's not. If you've ever done simple things like plug in an USB cable, use an SD card, and download an app to your computer, you are MORE than capable.
A Bitcoin node runs a copy of the Bitcoin Blockchain - all transactions that have ever happened - alongside the rules that govern the network. It also allows you run other apps in tandem with it, which helps you to interact with others using Bitcoin in a variety of ways. Think of it like getting a phone with internet connectivity so you can download and use various apps.
For this example we'll use Umbrel, which is very easy to navigate when it's up and running.
Set Up Your Lightning Node Channels
This will be the bulk of your learning curve. Lightning is tricky business when you're doing it all on your own. That said, I've broken down EVERYTHING here. Again, if you have zero experience with lightning transactions, it's best to spend some time learning about regular Lightning Wallets first. When you feel comfortable with them, come back here to learn about building robust lightning channels on your own node so you can seamlessly receive payments for your work! *Note that if you go through this step and it's totally over your head, I will show a paid/hosted options in the next step.
Start Streaming Sats
So you've got a Bitcoin node, you've gotten sats flowing on your Lightning node, and most importantly you (hopefully) have a great podcast that you'd like to have struck by lightning. Well here's a walkthrough of getting your podcast listed on PodcastIndex.org, in turn allowing listeners to pay per minute on a variety of platforms. Welcome to the world of Podcasting 2.0!
BONUS: See And Access Your Sats From Anywhere!
All of the above is fantastic, but did you know you can see/access those streamed sats from anywhere? I was recently on a trip with my family and I was able to have full control of my lightning node and all the sats that streamed to it from across the globe. In fact, I made the following video while on the opposite side of the planet from my node - interacting with it seamlessly via the Zeus app.
What About Other Mediums?
Yes, the above tutorial just pertains to audio podcasts. That said, the idea of pay-per-article paywalls is entirely possible (see Yalls.org for an example of this), and there are rumblings of video-based sat streaming on the horizon... *cough* BREEZ WALLET *cough*. As these solutions begin to grow, I'll make video tutorials on them and include them here.
Enjoy this tutorial? Drop me a tip at my Strike page! Just hit the link, type in any amount you like, and click the tip button. You'll be greeted with a lightning invoice, or if you click the right arrow, a regular Bitcoin address.