The Value 4 Value movement pioneered by Adam Curry is quickly gaining traction within the Lightning Network community as a new business model for podcast listeners to fund creators and engage with them directly through their podcasting feed.
There are now over 5,000 podcasts that support Value 4 Value payments, giving creators a new income source that doesn’t interfere with their ad revenue, and can not be cancelled by payment processors or a single corporate sponsor.
My Lightning podcast recently surpassed 500,000 sats earned, with almost all of that money earned in 2022. For context, Fountain recently shared a leaderboard of the top earning shows of 2022, highlighting The Kevin Rooke Show at #8 of all 5,000+ Lightning podcasts.
To crunch some numbers, If I’m earning 500K sats/quarter, and we conservatively assume the other top 10 shows are also earning 500K sats/quarter, that’s 5M sats/quarter between just 10 shows.
If we conservatively assume the remaining 5,000+ shows are earning 5M sats/quarter combined, that would mean 10 million sats were earned by podcasters in Q1 2022.
I think my estimates above are extremely conservative, and that tens of millions of sats are likely flowing between listeners and podcasters each quarter. However, even if my estimates are too optimistic today, it won’t be long before they are surpassed. In Q4 of 2021, I earned less than 50,000 sats, so I’ve personally seen listeners send in 10x more sats in the span of a single quarter.
Value 4 Value is clearly getting traction among podcasters, but the concept of rewarding valuable information with value in the form of sats isn’t limited to just podcasting. There are many examples of emerging business models that can be built from streaming sats on the internet. Let’s explore a few of them below.
The Value 4 Value model that has been popularized through podcasting can be extended to support many different content types, including written content, video game streaming, books, and music.
Social media platforms can now rely on Lightning payments to refine and improve their content ranking algorithms. By sending sats, users can amplify their own voice or help promote the content they find interesting. Two great examples of this are Fountain and Stacker News.
A variation on the Value for Visibility idea above is to design auctions for advertisers to promote their business. The more sats they are willing to pay, the more visibility their ads will get. However, that much is already possible without the Lightning Network.
Advertising gets really interesting when platforms can either pay users for consuming ads or pay them with ad dollars for using their platform. Stacker News is a great example of this principle in action.
The Value 4 Value model can also be applied to completing tasks that may be outside the scope of traditional employment. Fixing a website bug or auditing a few lines of code are not typically tasks that require full-time employment, and can be completed by anyone with the required specialized knowledge. In other cases, tasks may require little specialized knowledge, and can be as simple as identifying items in photos to train machine learning models.
Since all internet content is valuable to someone (otherwise it wouldn't be posted in the first place), and Lightning enables anyone to instantly express value in any amount, there will be many ways in which creators, consumers, and businesses use sats to value different forms of content on the internet.
Some of these experiments may look similar to the Value 4 Value business model popularized among podcasters, but I suspect there will be many more experiments that modify the business model in new and interesting ways.
Podcasting is only the tip of the Value 4 Value iceberg.