Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
Love your art! Can I have it for free?
January 29, 1845, New York. The Evening Mirror publication of the poem The Raven turns Edgar Allan Poe into an overnight sensation.
Even though this poem excites readers, listeners, and viewers to this day, it did little for the financial well-being of Poe. The evergreen creation netted him the not-so-princely sum $24, over half of which was charity.
Adjusted for inflation, in 2018 Poe’s earnings for this masterpiece would amount to $754.91, an amount insufficient to cover 2 weeks of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago.
To put things in perspective, that would be equivalent to Taylor Swift selling the rights to her hit single Shake it Off for a tad more than $750.
The Ravenhas become so ingrained in our culture that the piece is still being recited, remixed, and reinvented in different media and languages to this day.
Despite the wide recognition that Poe’s body of work has earned him, it did not yield much financially. For his 20 years of creative work, the writer earned an average yearly salary of $195 or $9,750 adjusted for inflation. That is half of what a minimum wage worker earns today.
Unjust rewards – Nevermore!
The story of Edgar Allan Poe’s financial perils had a deep impact on Austrian music composer and producer David Brandstaetter, the sound designer for some of Rockstar Games legendary titles, including the first two Max Payne games.
Poe’s work, especially The Raven and Annabel Lee, has always inspired me. He not only wrote some of the most famous poems of all time, he also established the foundations of the detective story and science fiction!
When David first learnt about how little money The Raven brought Poe, he was shocked. Thinking about the issue, he soon realized that many creatives are stuck in a similar situation: struggling to earn a living through their art due to unfair compensation and copyright infringement.
Reflecting on his experience at Rockstar Games Vienna and Sony DADC, David realized that the actual process of producing and distributing digital content has not changed much since Poe’s time. He realized he could apply his deep understanding of the creative industry and his business savvy to change the situation for creators, project managers and consumers.
Qravity: from idea to a working platform
In February 2016, David set up Qravity to provide an alternative way for producing and distributing digital entertainment, including video games, movies, and music.Soon, his development team had a working prototype ready for testing,
In July 2017, we had a unique collaboration and communication tool for creative teams, Qravity also tracks tasks in such a way that creative members receive stakes in the content they help make. For example, a person who writes lyrics for a song gets a share, say five percent, of the song’s revenue. Every time someone buys that song, the lyricist gets five percent of that payment.
David’s concept was an equitable platform that provides full protection of intellectual property and is practically immune to piracy.
I was speaking with my friend and business partner Sascha Dennstedt (Qravity’s Co-Founder and CFO) about Poe and how, in some ways, little has changed financially for artists. Sascha said that we should integrate blockchain into Qravity. Some research convinced me that this made perfect sense.
Qravity’s Ethereum smart contracts will make it easy for creators to monitor their stakes in all the digital content they help produce. It will also provide the platform with greater transparency and security during content production and distribution stages.
The stakes are quantified in the form of an internal non-tradable digital token called QPT. When a user purchases the respective content, smart contracts automatically allocate a portion of the revenue to all parties involved in the creation process based on the amount of QPT each creator holds.
The payment is in QCO, which serves as Qravity’s currency; holders can trade it on exchanges or use it to purchase or rent content in the Qravity marketplace.
The mechanism is simple: If the above-mentioned lyricist has a 5% stake in a song that sells for 1 QCO, he will receive 0.05 QCO.
The End Goal: Fair Rewards for Creators
“[The Raven] will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it.”
Nathaniel Parker Willis, Editor, Evening Mirror
Creating art that has the power to transcend individuals and communities is perhaps every artist’s greatest aspiration. Yet, transcendence doesn’t pay the rent.
The Qravity platform is striving to merge artists’ material needs with their souls’ desires, allowing them to create awesome content and earn long-term profits from their work. By doing so, David, Sascha and their team hope to help creators produce premium, in-demand content that does more than fill their pockets.
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