This summer, I directly from the video conference – Largest conference for creators – Labor journalism symposium with Sydney Hillman Foundation. One day I’m chatting with prominent TikTok users about their financial anxieties (what if they accidentally get banned from TikTok tomorrow?), and the next day I’m learning about the history of U.S. labor organizing.
These topics are not disjointed: writing about the creator economy is, at heart, labor journalism. Creator Beats are Labor Beats.
Creators are rebelling against traditional ways of making a living in the arts industry, taking control of their income to make money for themselves, not for the big media conglomerates.Consider creators like Brian David Gilbert, as a chaotic comedy video producer for Vox Media’s video game publication Polygon, he built a loyal fan base. Gilbert quit to work on other creative projects full-time, possibly because he realized that with an audience, he could make more money on his own than a media salary.Then there are YouTube channels like die with expansive entertainment, basically an investigative news outlet run by individual video producers. We see chefs building their brands by going viral on TikTok, or teachers increasing their income by sharing educational content on Instagram. The arts industry is notoriously underpaying its laborers for the expertise they bring, and YouTubers, Instagrammers, and newsletter writers alike are proving that creativity is a monetizable skill—and they should be earning it More skills than subsistence.
This belief—that the creator economy is a labor beat—guided my coverage of the industry this year. Below, I’ve rounded up some of the best stories about the creator economy.
Like most teens, Chris McCarty spends a lot of time on YouTube, but they have a serious problem. How do influencers protect themselves when their children are too young to understand what it means to be a regular in online videos? As part of the Girl Scouts Gold Awards program, McCarty worked with Washington State Representative Emily Weeks to introduce a bill that would protect and compensate children who appear in family vlogs.
Back in 2010, amateur YouTubers realized that “cute kids doing things” was an easy genre to spread. The father of David DeVore, then 7, posted a video on YouTube of his reaction to anesthesia called “david after the dentistDavid’s father turned public interest in his son into a small business, earning $150,000 in five months Through advertising revenue, merchandise sales and a licensing agreement with Vizio. He told The Wall Street Journal at the time that he would save the money for his children’s college expenses, as well as charitable contributions. at the same time,”charlie bit my fingerThe video made enough money to buy a new house.
More than a decade later, some of YouTube’s biggest stars are kids, too young to understand the life-changing responsibility of being an influencer with millions of subscribers.seven years old Nastyawhose parents run her YouTube channel, is the sixth highest-paid YouTube creator in 2022, earning $28 million. Ryan Cajia 10-year-old who has been playing with toys on YouTube since he was 4, earning $27 million From various licensing and branding deals.
I’m obsessed with MrBeast, but it’s kind of like “watching a car crash”. MrBeast is still driving comfortably on the highway, but I’m worried about the guy (…not too worried. I mean. He’s doing great).His business model is just seems unsustainable For me, despite his enormous wealth and irreplaceable success.As he tries to raise a unicorn-sized VC round, we’ll see if he can keep upgrading his stunts without becoming another David Dobrik.
Is bigger better? MrBeast’s business model is like a snake biting its own tail – no one makes as much money as he does, but no one spends as much as he does. He described his margins as “extremely thinIn a conversation with Logan Paul, as he reinvests most of his profits into his content. His audience expects each video to be more impressive than the last, and from the outside, MrBeast is no longer upping the ante Seems to be just a matter of time (for other creators, this leads to disaster). So, if MrBeast’s business is truly a unicorn — and I bet it is — then he has two options.Will he use the $150 million buffer to make his business more sustainable so he doesn’t have to continue bury yourself alive? Or will he keep fighting for more until there’s nothing left?
Speaking of David Dobrik, longtime YouTuber Casey Neistat premiered a documentary about the 26-year-old YouTuber at SXSW this year. When Neistat started making the documentary, he wanted to capture the phenomenon of Dobrik and his Vlog Squad, who were once YouTube royalty. Documentary takes a turn after Insider surfaces sexual assault allegations On the set of Dobrik’s movie – and then, Dobrik nearly kills his friend Jeff Wittek in a wrong stunt. Neistat brilliantly captures the downfall of creators, and the ways in which a lack of oversight on YouTube movie sets can set the stage for disaster, especially as creators are incentivized to pull off increasingly insane stunts to stay relevant.
TV shows such as “house of hype’ and “The D’Amelio Show” dedicated entire episodes to the creator’s fear of being “cancelled,” but Dobrik still did a good job questioning how far the creator had to go to lose his fans. Dobrik ke just opened a Pizza shop in Los Angeles and has its own discover tv showsWittek has had at least nine surgeries to date due to an accident on the set of Dobrik.
“I think there’s always a quest. It’s very much about the musician—how do you keep your music interesting?” Nestat said. “But what sets people like David Dobrik apart is that their quest isn’t to have the next song or the next movie. Their quest is, how can I be more sensational? It’s a Very, very, very dangerous pursuit, because once you achieve something crazier than the last time, you have to go beyond it.”
The biggest open secret in short video is that you can’t get rich on TikTok alone, as even the most viral creators earn negligible income from the platform itself. TikTok has long dominated the short video space, but YouTube Shorts could take on TikTok next year as it becomes the first platform to share advertising revenue with short video creators. Advertising revenue doesn’t seem to be all that glamorous, but I’m very excited to see how the program will change the short game in 2023.
A big reason why TikTok and other short-form video apps haven’t rolled out similar revenue-sharing programs is that it’s trickier to figure out how to fairly distribute ad dollars across algorithmically-generated short-video feeds. You can’t embed an ad in the middle of a video – imagine watching a 30 second video with an 8 second ad in the middle – but if you place an ad between two videos, who gets the revenue share? The creator whose video appears directly before or after it? Or should creators whose videos you’ve watched before in your feed also get cut because their content encourages you to keep scrolling?
At TechCrunch Disrupt, I interviewed OnlyFans CEO Ami Gan and Chief Strategy Officer Keily Blair about the future of the platform, especially when it comes to sex workers. Thanks in large part to the success of adult creators, OnlyFans has paid out more than $8 billion to creators since 2016. By comparison, Safest Jobs competitor Patreon has paid out $3.5 billion since 2013. Online sex workers are some of the industry’s savviest and highest-paid creators, but they’re also the most vulnerable. Changing credit card company regulations and internet privacy laws can destroy their business, and that’s almost happened to OnlyFans last year. The company said it would ban adult content, then rescinded that ban — but even then, adult creators remained skeptical about how long they could keep afloat on the platform. On our stage, I asked Gan if adult content would still be on OnlyFans in 5 years. she said yes.
OnlyFans has worked hard to upgrade its image from an adult content subscription platform to a Patreon-like home for creators of all kinds, but it’s far from being far from them as users. Today, the platform’s CEO Ami Gan confirmed that adult content will still have a home on the site five years from now, and that these creators can continue to make a living off it.
The confirmation today on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt is notable because of OnlyFans’ rocky relationship with adult creators.Last year, the company announced that it would no adult content On site under the pressure and efforts of card payment companies It is said External funding is being raised.then it suddenly suspension decision Less than a week later, after an outcry from users.