Many of our readers will be aware that The Future Shapers is currently crowdfunding with Crowdcube.  As part of the process we support investors and potential investors with updates.  This thought piece will be an abridged version of some of these updates. If you are getting value from The Future Shapers platform and would like to understand how you can join I would encourage you to visit our pitch page.

This thought piece provides more detail on the world that we are pitching The Future Shapers into, how the emerging technologies around Blockchain are instrumental to making it possible and why changes in the regulatory environment are favourably moving towards our innovative business model.

Around the world, news media companies are proving that subscriptions and memberships can replace advertising revenues Just as the internet revolutionized the way people pay for music and television, audiences are increasingly willing to pay for high-quality journalism content.

With 3.4 billion internet users worldwide and 12 percent annual growth in smartphone users, we can imagine a world in which global news media subscriptions reach Spotify (50 million) and Netflix (95 million) levels. According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018 the UK has a 95% internet penetration of its 65m population.

According to Ofcom in 2017, Britons spend 49 percent of their media time consuming digital products, with television, radio and print making up the rest.

Readers are already paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year for digital news subscriptions, an amount that will triple in 10 years. Growth will be driven by millennials and senior executive technologists, The Future Shaper’s core audience. We have identified a target audience of early adopters — influential and engaged executives and agents of change who are deeply passionate about innovation and are increasingly able and willing to pay for quality trustworthy thought leadership.

The 2017 Harvard Business Review Report and Accounts detail that approximately 15 million thought pieces or cases were sold in the year with average monthly unique visitors raising to over 7 million, a 94% growth in unique visitors over the last four years, having grown every year.

According to Reuters Institute the UK was initially seen as an innovation leader in this media area but has been surpassed by Scandinavian countries, where pay-per-read is more prevalent and offerings such as dynamic pricing or yield management are being introduced.

The Future Shapers believe that pay-per-read for Thought Leadership and all digital media content will become common place and the IPR generated from this project has the potential to shift the innovation and commercial leadership balance back to the UK.

Engaging with your fans, followers and reader

The music, news and thought leadership industries face similar issues when it comes to engaging with fans, followers and readers. The music, news and paid digital content industries have all been said to be “dying” for many years, in part due to the emergence of Napster, BitTorrent, Facebook, and other disruptive forces in digital distribution. While many analysts credit streaming services with restoring the music industry to growth, most streaming users still consume recorded music for free, and Spotify’s free tier is growing more quickly than its paid tier. The dominant consumption paradigm still devalues recorded music as a commodity, framing it more as a utility or public good accessible at little to no cost — a persistent insight in the news and Innovation Thought Leadership worlds.

I have written about the similarities and challenges across the digital content industries in my recent Future Shapers thought pieces From the Rock Market to the Stock Market and Long live the pioneers, rebels and mutineers, go forth and have no fear.

The pieces support our raise activities and give further backing to our vision that a world where readers are comfortable paying a micro payment for what they read, and confirm they take value from, is on the horizon.  The Future Shapers are looking to be at the heart of that world

The art of the possible is becoming doable

Taking the features, strengths and disruptive capability of the blockchain and introducing it to digital innovation thought leadership in order to ‘return value back to knowledge’. The immutability and trust less nature of the blockchain means that it can be used in instances where record-keeping and auditable data is key. Thought-leadership content creators need different contracts in each jurisdiction, to protect their copyright and to enable distribution of their content.

Putting content on a blockchain with the connectivity for peer-to-peer transactions – via a smart contract such as Ethereum allows complete transparency and automation of execution as well as direct payments to copyright holders.

The Future Shapers plan to simplify digital rights management and enable a pay-per-read model from readers directly to contributors. The vision is to enable contributors to have more control over how their content and associated data is used.

Part of a digital single market with up to date copyright laws

The Future Shapers are focusing on the usecase of rights management in media supported by a business model designed from the ground up to use the strengths of the technology. This is also being assisted by the European Parliament legal affairs committee with their agreement to adopt copyright laws that will force platforms such as YouTube to seek licences for music videos.

As this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a new balance in the online world reverberates through the digital world, The Future Shapers are primed to ensure, its contributors, partners and stakeholders get a fair share of the value they create.

The Future Shapers are ardent advocates of the proposed updates to the EU Copyright Law and Digital Single market and take a similar view to the Copyright for Knowledge cross-sectoral body which aims to work with government at both a UK and European level to achieve a balanced copyright regime in Europe. We believe that the changes have the potential to stimulate creativity and innovation with the opportunity for a wider more competitive platform environment.

We have operated in a world where the big technology platform players have been able to convince many consumers that their interests are the same. With the rise of new data protection legislation such as GDPR and response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal this is changing. As the economy shifts from one driven by tangible assets to one driven by intangibles such as intellectual property and data, there is strong reason to think that the platform companies that have ringfenced these assets enjoy unfair regulatory advantages.

The result? Fewer stories of importance are told or heard. Less and less independent cutting edge thought leadership is created and thus, the amount of available, actionable insight isn’t meeting demand in an innovation-led world. Our plan is to change that.

The rules of the digital economy need rewriting to reflect the shifts of the past 20 years. There may be tweaks to improve the EU’s proposals before September. But at a time when an increasing portion of global wealth resides in content, data and intellectual property, our belief is that the biggest companies will be required to respect that IP and pay a fair price for it. The Future Shapers have designed our business model from the ground up using appropriate technologies and processes to be able to deliver success for all our stakeholders.

The vanguards of any industry are the ones that aren’t passengers but ones that create and shape the future. So, if you want to be part of what we’re doing, check out our current equity crowdfunding raise and help us return value back to knowledge.