#10 - Creator Economy Movement: May 19, 2021

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Not every week will be a news roundup, but this was an eventful one so here we go.

General News

With its Android release, Clubhouse opens itself up to the other 87% of the connected market. Its strategy is to continue growing in a controlled fashion by extending its invite-only model. The founders seem to be wary of the hyper-growth induced outages and notification failures on its iOS product, and want to take a cautious approach with Android rollout. (Clubhouse)

Discord has become the hangout spot of choice for communities of all shapes and sizes (150M users). Last week Discord announced a rebrand, alongside an early rollout of ticketed events. Creators (including actors, musicians, and servers mods) have long desired to earn money from the awesome community experiences they create. What better place to do it than where the community already lives? (TechCrunch) In April, Discord was rumored to have turned down a $12 billion acquisition offer from Microsoft, but its CEO was tight lipped during his appearance on Bloomberg🤐.

Spring and Bondly team up to offer NFTs sales for creators. Bondly was the company behind Logan Paul’s first NFTs, and with this partnership, it is aiming to scale broader fan engagement into a revenue stream for more creators. An interesting aspect is embedding perks and utilities (e.g. interaction with creators) directly within NFTs. Web 3.0 has been dubbed the new 'internet of value', and this is exemplified through direct value transfers between creators and fans. (PRNewswire)

Instagram is gearing up to host an invite-only Creator Week to “help creators build their community and grow their businesses”. (Variety)

Watch out LinkedIn, TikTok is launching a feature to help Gen Z find jobs (Axios)

New feature alert: TikTok is testing a way to allow creators to boost videos (get views) by paying. The feature is not widely available yet, but could be an early sign of things to come. How will monetizing creators instead of monetizing consumers and brands work out? How will this lead to an uneven playing field for creators?🤷🤔 (TikTok)

YouTube joins TikTok and Snapchat in announcing a new creator fund,unleashing a $100M war chest to entice creators to use YouTube Shorts. TikTok announced some time ago that its own creator fund would grow to $1 billion over 3 years. (TechCrunch)

GLAAD social media report finds top content sites ‘categorically unsafe’ (Axios). This report, alongside another research study on child safety on popular internet platforms, indicates that despite efforts in Trust & Safety, there remain significant gaps to keep children safe online. Given the importance of keeping children safe, there could be more regulation coming. One recent children related regulatory change was in regard to COPPA compliance, which sent ripples through a segment of the creator economy.

TikTok launched various developer kits including Sound Kit, which open up how creators can use off-platform music in their creation workflow. Sound Kit is integrated with music creation apps including Audiobridge, Landr, Rapchat, and Yourdio. This makes for a bridge that brings music artists into the creator economy. (TikTok)

Li Jin comes with another haymaker, this time calling out Apple for operating its platform business with too much with its product mentality, which hold back the advancement of the greater creator economy (and of course developers). (Li’s Substack)

Brands want to be a part of the cultural moment. Not because it’s cool, but because it sells. To get in on cultural moments that are often started or accelerated by creators, various platforms are betting on platform-owned creator marketplaces, facilitating connection between brands and creators as part of the in-app experience. Simultaneously, they’re investing in first party shoppable-content features that let consumers purchase items directly as creators tout them. (HollywoodReporter)

Relatedly, TikTok is testing in-app shopping products. “Executives explained that the company intends to replicate its success with AI-recommended videos in online shopping. By scrolling an endless stream of content linked with physical goods, the startup aims to hook shoppers the same way lip-synching videos enthralled a generation of American and European teens.” (Bloomberg)

Businesses typically tag their products in TikTok’s social content, with links directing buyers to their own sites, but users still technically stay in the TikTok app. Facebook and Instagram let merchants either set up their in-app storefronts or channel users to third-party services.

Now TikTok aims to lock users inside its ecosystem to a greater degree. Brands like Hype will run dedicated stores on the video platform, taking orders from and interacting directly with shoppers. While TikTok won’t handle sales or merchandise itself, it hopes to sell more ads to merchants, boost traffic and take a cut of business.


Creativity Trends

Creators are making parodies of the original dance trend from Starboi3 and Doja Cat’s hit song by replacing “p***y” with movie quotes or impressions. (TikTok)

Netflix and Adobe partnered in an open invitation to TikTok creatives to make a trailer for an untold story that resonates with them personally. The winner from #TheGreatUntold will have a Netflix short film made based on the trailer. (TikTok)

Bruno Mars’ “Leave the Door Open” is inspiring a wave of humorous videos ridiculing conversations between people such as couples, or with parents. (TikTok, Reel)

YouTube analyzed its treasure trove of data to break down how vlogging creators around the world greet their viewers. Spoiler: The winner is “hey guys!”. (YouTube)

A recent trend in hot tub live streaming (draw your own conclusions) has resulted in an indefinite ads-eligibility removal for long time Twitch streamer Amouranth, without warning. Is this a sign of things to come as platforms struggle to balance content acceptability with advertiser friendliness? (BBC)


$$$ 

Collective, a company that helps creators to operate as businesses by handling operational tasks such as accounting and taxes, announced its $20M Series A round led by General Catalyst. (TechCrunch) In the same week, Lili, a startup focused on solving banking, payments, finance management, and tax needs for freelancers, raised $55M in Series B Funding led by Group 11 (TechCrunch). The space for helping creators run their business is heating up 🔥 as multiple entrants are tackling the problem from different angles. Keep an eye on this space for creators as things kick into overdrive in the coming months. When Stripe advances their Treasury product even further, new creator-focused Neobanks and companies such as Karat, Stir, Collective, and many others will be vying for creators to receive / send / store / analyze money through their respective platforms.

#fypsounds, a startup that lets audio artists monetize their sounds or music on Instagram and TikTok, moved from invite-only into launch last week. “FYP” = For You Page, which has been TikTok’s secret sauce for consumer engagement and creator distribution. This is critical for the Short Video ecosystem, as music has proven to be inexplicably important to the entertainment value of popular trends. (FYPsounds)

Allstar, a company that aims to turn gamers into stars through highlight worth game play clips, raised a $3.85M Seed round led by New York Angels. (InsiderVoice)

Thinkific Labs, a platform for online course creators, went public recently. Over the past year, it grew paid subscribers by 115% to 27,500, while ARPU improved by 15% to $106, and ARR increased by 134% to $34.8 million. (Thinkific)

Jellysmack, a company that helps video creators grow and monetize, raised a Series C from SoftBank, which has backed other companies in the creator economy, such as ByteDance and Cameo. (Stockhouse)


Lastly, here’s an interesting excerpt from Economist on the New Rules of the Creator Economy. This perfectly highlights how incumbent platforms, who were chugging along on the ads gravy train, are now feeling pressure to adjust their strategy in face of existential competitive threat.

…platforms that once paid little or nothing to creators are ponying up. Companies “need to either offer some way to monetise that content on-platform, or…they'll become just a promotional hub, where people essentially advertise the content that they're monetising on other platforms”…

…Twitter was in danger of becoming a promotional tool for Substack writers and Clubhouse broadcasters. It is now trying to beat both at their own game. In January it bought Revue, a newsletter firm, and cut its commission to 5%, half Substack’s. On May 3rd it added Spaces, a Clubhouse-like audio feature; soon it will let users sell tickets to chats they host. The ability to sign up for a newsletter or join an audio room directly from Twitter, without the friction of moving apps, gives the company an edge over its startup rivals.

What a time to be alive as a creator.


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