Start in beta today, playground is a social platform that aims to help people discover and develop a community while giving YouTubers the opportunity to monetize their audience. The website already has a wide variety of users like that Modern Art Museum, Comedy presenter Alex is gay, the Abolitionist teaching network, activist Nupol Kiazolu, and a Malaysian virtual dance club. For now, the beta is open to selected YouTubers in the cultural field (art, music, wellness, games and more), and there is a waiting list for community members.
As a Taiwanese-American daughter of immigrants who grew up in a culturally diverse neighborhood of Santa Fe, founder Jia Ling Yang understands the value of bringing people together. But as a freelance creative director for brands like Facebook, Google Play and E! Entertainment, she decided to try new ways to help build an online community. Of course, social media is already creating communities, from neighborhood book exchange groups to One Direction and Twitter. But life on the internet can be isolate, even.
“Instead of scrolling and looking at each other’s lives, I say, hey, let’s sit down. Let’s prepare Filipino food together, let’s train together, ”said Yang.
In its current state, Playground helps users find both online and in-person events to attend with cultural institutions and artists. After all, Yang wants Playground to become an all-in-one end-to-end platform for YouTubers to run their business – they’ll be able to manage fan subscriptions, send out newsletters, their events , Post articles and podcasts and view analytics, sell merch, and more. Yang and her team of nine are currently developing social tools to help community members connect with one another.
“We want to create forums for discussion between members,” Yang told TechCrunch. “The difference between an audience that is just being presented with content and a community is that the members can actually interact with each other outside of the organizer.”
All-in-one platforms are valuable to developers as it is easier to manage an account than juggling Discord, Patreon, Eventbrite, Mailchimp, and more. But there is also an inherent risk in entrusting the entirety of your business to a startup. However, Playground gives its creators complete control over their subscriber list and contact information so they don’t have to rely on the Playground platform to reach their fans.
“It’s really frustrating when you don’t own your community,” said Yang. “Suppose you built an audience on Clubhouse or something, and that platform just goes away. Then your audience is just the one who sent you a message on your Instagram DMs. “
There will be a free tier for YouTubers on the platform, but to access monetization features like paid tickets and membership programs, they’ll have to pay $ 15 or $ 30 per month, depending on the level of customization they want.
Yang is also considering how web3 will fit into the future of Playground. Since its inception, her company has raised $ 2.3 million in seed capital from Animoca, Sogal, Gaingels, and Anomaly. One investor, Animoca, is known for investing in blockchain-based projects, but there is a visible anti-crypto sentiment among the cultural workers that Playground is targeting. For example, while some artists take advantage of the power of NFTs, others worry about environmental costs and the spread of scams in an unregulated market. But Yang believes the crypto world has a communication problem.
“This world doesn’t speak culture,” she told TechCrunch. “Creative artists like the concept of owning their own art, monetizing their community, deciding how their community is governed… These are all principles that YouTubers really care about, and I feel like we’re just bridging the conversation a little Bit.”
Yang is interested in a blockchain-based future for Playground, but right now the platform is focused on engaging creators and community members after the beta starts.