If you’re on Facebook, you’ve no doubt seen some occasional teaser images from various artists announcing their addition to the August network. While the team has been relatively mum about the details behind August, their vision is simple yet ambitious. If they are successful, it could prove to be one of the most powerful and beneficial platforms for artists to date.
“The world of media will forever change when any artist is able to sell 100 million copies of their work—all by themselves.” - this is the fundamental principle underlying August’s vision and the goal that drives them forward. The aim of August is to go beyond the intrinsic value that artists typically extract from existing social media platforms and produce real financial benefits by solving the distribution challenge that plagues all artists today. While August’s platform still operates on the principle of a producer-consumer relationship, the details underlying it are quite different. Its aim is to make this relationship stronger and more meaningful.
One of the first steps taken by August is the removal of personal content such as cat photos, memes, selfies, etc. and placing the focus on high quality artistic material. This ensures that an artists hard work isn’t lost in the sea of noise that exists across various social networks today. As Sean Wing - one of August’s co-founders - has aptly put it, the situation has gotten to the point where “being discovered via the internet is like winning the lottery”.
This aforementioned noise not only causes problems for artists but for content consumers as well. Consumers struggle in today’s existing platforms to find high quality, inspiring content that matches their personal tastes and leaves them yearning for more. This common goal between artists and consumers creates a sustainable relationship that keeps both parties coming back.
The product itself is divided into four distinct elements: Channels, Sharing, Identities, and Conversations.
Channels are at the core of content distribution in August and are further divided into Published, Shared and Personal streams. This division will allow consumers to receive curated content from a variety of sources and degrees of personalization while providing high quality content immediately upon sign-up. This is important as it allows artists to get their work seen by a wide audience and simultaneously overcomes the onboarding challenges that users typically face when adopting a new platform. These channels are populated by two sets of profiles, an artist profile and a consumer profile. Consumers have access to the Shared channel by giving them the ability to share artist content to it, or the Personal channel to share the content they themselves create. Artists on the other hand are given access to all three, and most notably the Published channel where they can share high quality works for art. To ensure that the content populating the Published channel remains of the highest caliber, artists can only join August by invitation from a pre-existing artist with a limit on the number invitations they can send. Both artists and consumers are provided with different tools for media publication. Consumer content will be populated via a mobile platform - since this is where the majority of user content originates - similar to what Instagram offers. Artists on the other hand generate content through a variety of tools and will instead have a web based interface from which to publish their work.
Although likes are personally gratifying, they hold little lasting value for an artist and rarely translate into income. August is designed to extract more value from user interactions by restricting them to two operations for the media they consume: sharing to the shared stream or another social media platform, or saving them for later in their August library. This helps artists achieve a snowball effect for their content, not only within August but also across the internet. To encourage sharing, August makes it easy for consumers to “measure their degree of influence over a piece of Published media in a quantifiable and emotionally rewarding way”. This plays off our desires to be the first to discover a particular artist or piece of content and is a powerful motivator for sharing.
User Identities work at both the artist and consumer levels. While artists build an identity based on the content they create, be it photos, video, audio or text, consumers build identities based on the content they share. This is gratifying for users and “allows any consumer to build an audience of millions who recognize and appreciate their unique tastes in media” of any form. Consumers can thus become powerful influencers much like larger media outlets (magazines, radio and tv stations) are today.
August’s transparency over influence and sharing are just one of the elements that help to create more personal and meaningful Conversations. An artist can easily find their most influential followers and personally reach out to them. These conversations will be less transactional and more lasting through the addition of a visual timeline of the relationships formed. These timelines will not only encompass spoken conversations, but also interactions with the artist’s media creating a more durable and intangible exchange.
As you can see, the potential that August has is unlimited and the benefits to both the artist and consumer are extremely compelling. It’s expected that August’s user base will be comprised of 1% artists and 99% consumers and will grow organically through the existing base of impressive featured artists and the social sharing that will occur. August will be launching shortly with a gradual rollout to featured artists, and then growing outward from there. During my conversations with Sean Wing - August’s co-founder - it’s clear that the team is extremely passionate about what they're building and determined to change the face of media distribution as we know it. Only time will tell whether they will be successful but I’m certainly encouraged by what I’ve seen and heard, and happy to be one of their featured artists. If this has peaked your curiosity, visit http://www.agst.co/ to request an invitation and follow their Facebook page at August Corporation
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