Supporting Filipino content creators through the tipping economy

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Guest Writer

Report after report has stated what would be obvious to any Filipino who walks into an internet cafe in the Philippines: We spend more time in front of our computer screens and mobile devices than most people in the world. With all the time that you and I are spending online, how much are you really getting out of that experience?

Recall the last time you did nothing for a few hours but browse the internet. Did you learn anything? Did you pick up any skills? Did you witness any stories that inspire or motivate you? Chances are – if you’re anything like me – you’ll draw a blank. That’s because content on the internet falls to two extremes: It either panders to the lowest common denominator (think cat videos), or it attempts to sell you a product or service, however subtly (think content marketing). The content that speaks to your particular passions, skills, and experiences is few and far between. There’s a lot of noise, but little music.

But what if we could change this kind of content poverty? Entrepreneurs Roland Ros, Rexy Dorado, Andrew Pineda, and Clare Ros are aiming to do so. The four are co-founders of Kumu, a livestreaming and content app that aims to appeal to Filipino audiences worldwide. No longer will Filipino audiences have to be satisfied with the usual slate of singing, dancing, and acting on television, or on their online counterparts.

While Kumu does have those usual forms of Filipino entertainment – and a broader diversity of voices at that – the platform will feature everything from wealth coaches and fitness experts to professional comedians and Baybayin artists. Kumu, in short, will be a who’s-who expo of Filipino talent, livestreaming for your education, entertainment, and inspiration 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Of course, this mission is easier said than done. Attracting the best Filipino content creators from around the world is one hell of a tough recruiting challenge. Rather than reach out to them and pitch them one-by-one on the merits of livestreaming, Kumu’s co-founders are building a patronage-style system they hope will attract talents en masse.

When most people think of the word patronage, they probably imagine wealthy benefactors in the 1800s commissioning top artists to do their portraits. Modern day patronage has evolved into the tipping and gifting economy that you see on livestreaming platforms like Twitch in the United States. Fans tip or gift their favorite content creators when they like their livestreaming content, giving monetary support to encourage them to create more. On an individual level, these tips are small, but they do add up in the aggregate – tens of thousands of people livestream part- or full-time in markets where livestreaming is already mainstream.

The Kumu co-founders are introducing this concept to the Philippines through their platform (the feature is launching this month). This change could be a boon to Filipino content creators. Like their counterparts in other countries, they can now perform for an audience at the push of a button, and earn revenue from supportive fans.

The change for content consumers – the vast majority of Filipinos – is arguably even greater. If Kumu succeeds in attracting even more top livestreams than it already has, Filipinos will be able to interact with much more relevant content. A college student who wants to start investing can get advice from a financial literacy expert. A mom who wants to lose weight can get inspiration from a fitness coach. A teenager who wants to attend concerts in a country not often visited by artists can be entertained with a live, up-close-and-personal performance.

The possible use cases of a platform like Kumu are really endless. But to get there, we really need to examine our digital consumption and question how it can be improved. Because it is only through realizing that we are just experiencing a tiny fraction of all the Filipino talent across the world will we endeavor to support it. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the soap operas and variety shows that executives try to force me to like. I want to discover the unknown Filipino artist living on another island, or even halfway across the world, who is as hungry to find a platform as I am to experience their raw talent.