Headline takes a Web3 approach to transform subscription-based content publishing, allowing authors to connect directly with their readers without the constraints of third-party platforms. The team at Unlock, an NFT-based access protocol, built with Ceramic to give creators control over both their content and who can access it.
If you're an author ready to move your publication to a fully decentralized stack, or a reader looking to find & subscribe to Web3-native content, visit viaheadline.xyz to get started.
The Platform Problem
Creators rely on publishing platforms to manage and access their audience, but legacy online publishing platforms frequently act in their own self-interest—subjecting creators to platform fees and other constraints that can significantly limit their profit and reach. These platforms also own the relationships between creators and their communities, allowing them to decide which authors and content are promoted, demoted or removed.
It’s in the financial interest of publishing platforms to bring as many creators and users onto their sites as possible and to keep them actively engaged. This leads to the attention economies we’ve seen emerge that use algorithmic promotion of content that’s often based on shock, outrage or conflict. Content platforms aim to extract as much rent from creators as possible, leaving creators with little option but to adapt their content to fit the algorithms’ parameters in order to grow their reach, audience and revenue. To reverse this trend toward increasingly reactionary content, the economic model has to be rewritten.
With Headline, creators now have access to an easy-to-use publishing system that allows them to retain ownership of their content and audience. Headline decentralizes content publication and access, putting creators and their communities first as opposed to the platform’s profits. Creators are not subjected to arbitrary content platform fees on Headline and they can escape the economics that have made Web2 platforms havens for clickbait. This lets creators get back to publishing the content they want to make and that their communities are interested in reading.
Newsletters That Aren't "Substuck"
The team recently launched Unlock Protocol, allowing creators to monetize their content with a few lines of code. The Unlock team built an NFT-based system to fully decentralize control of memberships to creators, and the team is now taking the vision of a sovereign creator economy one step further by supporting creators in removing platform middlemen. Headline enables a creator economy business model that lets creators regain control over their work and connect directly to their audience without outside interference—such as monetizing their content flexibly through subscriptions.
Headline is focused on supporting newsletter-style publications. When authors publish, the user newsletters will be delivered to readers as normal, but the author's content will be their own. By enabling creators to have true ownership of their content, they'll have the flexibility to publish what they want on their own terms.
On the Web3 publishing platform, authors are able to escape the walled gardens of Web2 to become un-Substuck and instead produce rich content that their audiences are willing and eager to pay for. Headline gives creators direct control and ownership over their content, letting them monetize on their own terms. The Unlock team believes this new peer-to-peer model will open the door for a new wave of journalistic integrity, leading to stronger and more enriching communities over time.
Storing Content on Ceramic
Platforms such as Headline were not previously possible using traditional technologies. With the invention of decentralized solutions, such as Ceramic, it's now possible for users to create, own and store their own data rather than being forced to trust a third party on their behalf. Headline combines Unlock's decentralized access control system with Ceramic's decentralized data network to bring power back to creators and away from platforms. When a creator uploads content to Headline, it is encrypted via Lit Protocol and stored on IPFS, with all of the associated metadata and publication data live in a separate file corresponding to each content piece, all stored on Ceramic.
Creators can see all the content they're actively working on and have published, while readers have a separate feed of only published content. Headline pulls from the publication data and IPFS URI, stored on Ceramic, to locate and identify published and unpublished content. These are managed in two decentralized registries, the ArticleRegistry and PublishRegistry. Lit Protocol is used to access and decrypt the content for display in the feeds. Unlock’s NFT-gating ensures that only viewers who hold the related NFT in their wallet can see a creator’s content.
Decentralized file storage ensures that no third-party entity (see: publishing platform) has the ability to modify, censor, promote or demote creator content. Instead, creators have autonomy over their content, which is only accessible to the users who hold the respective Unlock NFTs in their wallets. This means that newsletters published with Headline go from author to reader, without a middleman taking a service fee or exerting control over what gets published.
Because the content is stored on Ceramic’s decentralized network, it can be accessed and built on by other applications and services without integration with or permission from Headline. This creates content composability for Web3 applications. Headline's code is open-source, guaranteeing that the interests of content creators and their communities are the only interests served.
What's next for Headline?
The first version of Headline enables creators to publish their content to the web and to subscribers via email. Readers can now go to the site and browse authors, subscribe to their content, and begin reading.
If you're an author ready to use this new standard for content publishing, visit viaheadline.xyz to get started!