Every Monday morning, artnet News brings you The Gray Market. The column decodes important stories from the previous week—and offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the art industry in the process.

This week, thoughts on the intertwined good and bad of contemporary arts patronage…

UNCHAIN MY HEART: On Thursday, Forbes became the latest mainstream publication to tease the art market’s possible “disruption” by startups—a topic that summons me from the depths to wreak havoc as dependably as a Cthulhu ritual.

In his piece for the vertical, writer Roger Aitken primarily focused on the possible game-changing ability of “decentralized” platforms like Synereo’s WildSpark and Opus (both now in beta). These two entities are built around the principle of protecting artists from, in Aitken’s words, “profit-skimming corporate structures.” How? Primarily by relying on blockchain-driven cryptocurrencies (see: Bitcoin alternatives), all used to buy, sell, and promote artists’ digital works directly.

For example, Aitken explains how WildSpark “uses a digital currency called AMPs [currently] worth about $0.23 each…as a way to reward creators monetarily, while creators are allowed to use the digital currency as a way to buy attention from users.” Similarly, both WildSpark and Opus institute some variation of what the latter calls a “bounty” system, in which users and “curators” can be paid for sharing content with other users. read more