Last week we announced Karyakarsa, a platform in development intended to enable creators to receive monetary contributions direct from fans, without the hassle of doing manual transaction tracking, giving out bank details, and managing customer data. Ultimately, the biggest pain point we want to address is developing an additional revenue stream for creators who would otherwise have to take commissions or sponsorship deals, or other monetisation methods.
The growth of social media over the last several years has of course, in turn, provided ample playing ground for creators of all kinds, supported by the rise of various digital tools and hardware that make creating content easier. The tech itself does not have to be new — creators like Pinot have proven again and again that creating content with 20th century hardware can have strong appeal as well. As opposed to its early days, social media, especially media-heavy ones like YouTube and Instagram, is not anymore a collection of personal updates, but a full media platform with a variety of planned, well thought-out content delivered from creators across the globe.
Sadly, the acceleration of creator growth has not been balanced with an equal number of ways creators can monetise their efforts. Monetisation of creator efforts is important, as it provides further fuel for their continued work, whether or not the creator is creating full time or not. There are many activities that are not related to the creating work itself that is part of a creator’s reality — building and maintaining a fan base, creating relationships with brands, managing commission orders — that take up time as well, which may or may not be within a creator’s strongest abilities.
Of course, services in this segment — like Patreon, Ko-Fi, or Gumroad — which all strive to help creators monetise directly to fans, serve creators well in their respective markets, but unfortunately are not exactly suitable for markets like Indonesia. For example, Patreon — which is a great service, and what honestly KaryaKarsa aspires to — has two major barriers for an Indonesian market: payment by credit card (low penetration rate in Indonesia) or Paypal (even smaller penetration), and the subscription part (of which most common consumers in Indonesia are still getting used to). And this is not to mention the usage of the US Dollar, which does not always convert well when charged to rupiah.
Considering this problem, we started to take a closer look at similar efforts borne out of Asia. There are many platforms that enable fan-to-creator contributions, but they follow more of a “tipping” pattern, rather than a subscription. These “tipping” features can be seen from apps like Bigo (user-generated live streaming) to VLive (celebrity-generated live streaming), and are enabled by the purchase of coins within the app’s ecosystem to either contribute directly or buy digital goods for use later.
While these services are great (and of course, have their own set of problems), they are not necessarily the playgrounds of every type of creator. Not all creators can translate their work into, say, live-streaming video form, not to mention would be comfortable to limiting all their work to certain platforms. We believe that creators should be free to determine where they publish their work, and they should retain the right on whether there is any exclusive content for “higher-paying” fans regardless of format or platform. We should not disrupt a creator’s work process by forcing them to use certain apps. This is one guiding principle that we are following.
After determining a value proposition theory for creators, we started researching the consumer market in general. Unlike in more developed markets, research on consumer spending habits is not readily available, so we utilised market data for an industry that should be similar in spending and size — the telco market. By combining and correlating with market demographics, there should be a potential market of 36.7 million users in Indonesia alone with an ARPU of Rp 10K per month (actual ARPU varies per telco, but lowest is RP 12K). This is quite a sizable market, which is already used to paying for content through SMS subscription services of the past 10 years. While the same SMS subscription services and the abuse in the industry may have contributed to the unwillingness of consumers to subscribe to, well, anything, the purchasing power and the willingness to pay remains — it just needs a good reason, and it needs to be easy.
The final piece of the puzzle is payments. Payments need to be easy, and preferably in a local currency. We naturally chose using Go-Pay and OVO, being the most prevalent mobile wallets in Indonesia. Online payments using both mobile wallets are nothing new, and usage of both mobile wallets are already a part of daily life for many — more importantly, money that goes into these mobile wallets is money that people are ready to spend, whether for rides, food delivery, to e-commerce.
Since our announcement last week, we have validated the Karyakarsa concept — people have paid actual cash to help us make this happen, using money from their Go-Pay mobile wallets (OVO is still in integration phase). To date, over 200 people have contributed actual cash (and no, they’re not all our friends) with a 7.02% conversion rate, which we achieved just through our social networks with no ads. So, we definitely know people want KaryaKarsa to happen, especially the creators we have interviewed. We will continue to do further research through testing Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) and market interviews with customers and fans alike, but we feel we have found something that definitely contributes to the creative economy in Indonesia, and hopefully in other South East Asian markets.
Growth of the creative economy requires an increase of money flow into the industry in general — especially the creators. We hope that by enabling creators through KaryaKarsa, the growth of the creative economy sector will reach newer, sustainable heights and make it increasingly investible.
Ario is the founder and CEO of Karyakarsa.com, a creator appreciation platform from South East Asia. Karyakarsa.com is advised by Aria Rajasa, a veteran of Indonesia’s startup scene, and Pandji Pragiwaksono, a prominent entertainment figure in Indonesia.