Send in your ideas. Deadline October 1, 2024
Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2020-06
End: 2020-06


Allow creative artists to gain visibility and build reputation on the web

The Artist Hub is a progressive web app developed by The Creative Passport MTU, that allows users - Music makers - to connect different data sources and display their feeds all in the same global wall arranged in chronological order. Music makers will be able to create a custom fan page on a self-hostable server where all their music and related content can be placed and shared with their fans.

The underlying architecture for subscribing to and receiving posts/updates from connected services will be built using ActivityPub. The idea behind this architecture is a free and open-source way for music makers to share their content without needing to post to a number of different websites and social media and for fans to have the freedom to choose their platform of choice for engaging with that content.

We will use ActivityPub to aggregate data from a number of platforms. This will enable us to offer support for video (using PeerTube), audio (using Funkwhale), images (using PixelFed) and text (using Mastodon).

Why does this actually matter to end users?

A lot of the people we talk to, the media we watch and the services we search for are found in or through using social media. For users these platforms offer easy and usually free services to send public and private messages, stay updated on relevant news and promote your business or product.

But the services these social media offer do actually come at a personal and societal cost. The platforms are not neutral exchange platforms like the rest of the internet. They do not just deal with all messages they receive in the same way. Part of the corporate social network model is to give some messages preferential treatment over others, i.e. there is a noticeable bias towards those that pay. People only have so much attention they can spare every day, and the companies decide what you cannot skip based on what they get paid. This would be equivalent to you always seeing the newsletter from Coca Cola at the top of your email client, but only half of the emails from your father or local charity because they are automatically put in a folder out of sight. This "pay to play" creates a knockout race for attention fueled by commerce, not by arguments, emotions, ethics or societal considerations.

For artists and creatives this has created an especially problematic situation: you depend on social and content platforms to make your voice heard, but these platforms do not provide a level playing field so everyone can reach their audience. Also the business takes most of the money your work would make. And they are out for more: as the audiences of these services grow and grow, pressure is on by stock holders to squeeze out as much profit as possible, which usually means more attention to high profile ad-selling artists and less payout for starting artists.

Fortunately there are artists taking back control over their work and their connection with the audience. The Creative Passport is an effort to create a verified digital identification for music makers, a central place that holds all their songs and updated, verified information. Instead of handing everything over, artists can manage their work and their information from a place they own and then push it out to other services and platforms (which in turn get updated and verified information, as the Creative Passport enables verified credentials). This project wants to explore ActivityPub, the protocol that enables decentralized social networking solutions like PeerTube and Misskey. Connecting to the network of self-hosted, federating social networks can help artists expand their audience without giving up any of their independence.

Run by Creative Passport MTU

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.