Introducing The Biz podcast series, and the “crowdwall” payment scheme

with John Carvalho

A New Bitcoin Podcast Experiment: The Biz

Today, we launched a new podcast series called The Biz. On the surface, many people will see it as just another Bitcoin podcast, but this post will give some insight as to what makes it novel.

Specifically, I’ll explain the content, the monetization, and the technology behind The Biz.

The Content: Bitcoin Builders

I’ve been a part of Bitcoin communities since 2012, but I didn’t get much attention until I started dabbling in livestreaming, particularly during 2017 UASF drama, when I infamously interviewed Roger Ver and Vinny Lingham as camgirls on Xotika.tv.

In 2019, I started making many appearances on other podcasts and conference events, promoting Bitrefill, ranting about the potential of the Lightning Network, and exploring concepts related to Bitcoin’s circular economy.

In 2020, I started a new “stealth mode” company, and I found myself in many interesting calls with peers that are building Bitcoin businesses, including other founders, lawyers, venture capitalists, designers, and engineers. People were providing me with a wealth of experience and advice, and I did my best to reciprocate. I kept thinking to myself,

“I wish every Bitcoiner could be a part of this. I wish they could see behind the scenes and learn from all of this pioneering we are doing.”

Meanwhile, the Bitcoin podcast scene exploded with more new hosts and episodes than any Bitcoiner could keep with. Despite the constant stream of content, I found myself disinterested in many of the guests, who often discussed topics like finance, trading, politics, dogma, and price.

The Biz is all about the professionals involved in building the future of Bitcoin. The topics covered are about running a Bitcoin business, funding it, designing products, marketing, business development, recruiting, legal considerations, and any useful experience that can be shared.

The Monetization: Crowdfunding with Crowdwalls

In 2020, I also became jaded with appearing on podcasts, partly due to many of them adopting sponsors I have personal values against supporting. This caused me to burn some bridges when I publicly committed to doing my best to avoid shows and events that promoted products and companies I consider to be too far outside of my morals and ideals.

Naturally, it was time for me to start making my own content again. I wanted a place to talk about productivity and accelerating Bitcoin’s success as a technology for everyone, so I began planning for The Biz.

Without any sponsors, how will I fund the show?

It’s actually a notable amount of work to produce a decent podcast. There are expenses in equipment, software, editing, and time. Each episode of The Biz has roughly 10–15 hours of work put into it.

I suppose I could do it for free or for clout, but I have plenty of work to do, and many products I want to make, so I decided to mix things up and create some synergy with our new company. We are making Bitcoin products that help realize Bitcoin’s circular economy: a place where everyone can digitally do business in a self-sovereign way, without the need of the existing banking system.

One of our future products requires some innovation in how we use Bitcoin and the Lightning Network to monetize digital content. At TheBiz.pro website, you will see me experiment with some of these.

Episodes of The Biz are each locked behind a crowdwall. A crowdwall is new concept, similar to traditional paywalls you see at news websites. The difference here is there is one total goal that everyone contributes to. When the goal is reached, the content is made freely available to anyone and everyone permanently, with no additional costs to users.

Additionally, 50% of all proceeds for the first season of The Biz will be donated to a cause chosen by each guest. We want to demonstrate that not only can you monetize content in a self-sovereign way, but that you can give donations instead of accept sponsorships. Hopefully this at least makes paying for your content a little more palatable!

We will use thebiz.pro to experiment with the user experience of paying for digital content, so I am hoping for your support, and a little patience. If Bitcoiners want a way to opt out of the advertising-funded, privacy-compromising web, then you are supporting the right project!

The Technology: Lightning-Powered Hypercores!?

We have been working on more than crowdwalls and podcasts. The Biz website also progressively unlocks each episode proportionally as people contribute to the goal. That means that if you pay for 2 minutes worth of the goal, 2 more minutes of content are released publicly to everyone.

We are also working on subscription schemes using Lightning, and powering digital publishing by monetizing “hypercores”, a next-generation encryption technology comparable to torrents.

Once we iron out the kinks, our goal is to give every Bitcoiner the ability to monetize their own content like never before.

FAQ

Where can I get some free samples?
I’ll be posting some free clips from each episode if you follow The Biz account on Twitter, but if that isn’t good enough, you can find me in more than 24 various appearances on other shows, including TFTC, What Bitcoin Did, and more.

Is The Biz your new company?
Nope! The Biz is a playground and side project. Our new company has not yet been announced, but we are going to be using aspects of The Biz website to experiment with aspects of the products we are building under the new company!

Are the guests paid?
No. Guests typically don’t even mention this. But I am letting each guest choose a Bitcoin-friendly cause to donate half of the BTC we receive for the episodes!

Why are you doing this?
Because I think Bitcoiners deserve a useful podcast that isn’t biased by sponsorships, and experiments with creating a better web and user experience.

Can I subscribe instead?
Not yet! In the future, we will give users a chance to subscribe on a per-episode or per-month basis, as well as other options, but for now I encourage you to help us test the crowdwall and progressive unlock features, thanks!

Is there a RSS feed?
Yes, when each episode is fully unlocked it will be added to the RSS feed and then it will be distributed by Bitcoin Magazine. (Thanks, BM!)

Can I find it on Apple Podcasts, Anchor, etc?
Only if the goals are met and the episodes are unlocked! Then Bitcoin Magazine will work to make sure the unlocked episodes show up in popular platforms.

What makes you think your content is more valuable than others?
I don’t! Errr, it is! The truth is that every popular podcast has expenses, they simply fund it differently than The Biz. For what it’s worth, I do have a notable amount of business, branding, product, marketing, and Bitcoin experience! I’m older than I look ;)

What is a crowdwall?
A paywall that everyone can help unlock together!

What is progressive play?
A feature of our crowdwall that ensures every payment unlocks a proportional amount of content for everyone.

Will you add XYX features?
Maybe! Tweet at me and tell me your ideas and feedback!

Is this open source? Can I add my podcast?
Not yet. Eventually we’ll make sure everyone has a way to use the features we’re testing and even more. We just want to make sure we can demonstrate a thoughtful user experience.

What’s wrong with sponsors and ads?
When I am a guest on a podcast, sometimes I’m actually very proud of how the interview goes, and excited to share it with Bitcoiners so they can enjoy it and hopefully find it useful. However, it feels shitty when a podcast, where I’m explaining the evils of custodial Bitcoin, is prefaced by an advertisement promoting a custodial Bitcoin lending platform… Sponsors also make it difficult for the content to be unbiased and can end up influencing the host in very subversive ways.

How many episodes in a season?
I’m not sure yet, I’ll try to keep a consistent pace. I’ll start booking the next episodes as soon as this post is published.

How is the cost determined?
For now, I’m basing the cost of each episode roughly on the length of the episode. I know some people prefer shorter episodes, but the longer ones do have more gems within, and they do take more work to produce.

I have more questions, how can I contact you?
You can reach me on Twitter or Telegram at @bitcoinerrorlog!

Thanks for your support!