The Creator Economy is another way of describing the content economy. There are now millions upon billions of different forms of content on the internet. Content doesn't just exist on television and the radio anymore. Times have changed!
In the early days of the internet, there weren’t any simple tools for monetizing content — such as collecting payments from individuals on a regular basis, gatekeeping higher-value assets, or even recommendation engines that surfaced similar creators.
An easy solution to the income question was advertising and with that came an onslaught of banner and sidebar ads They kept the lights on for numerous creatives and publishers. This disaggregated system worked fine for a while, supporting a generation of digital natives who realized the creative potential of the internet.
And then, in the late 2000s, something seismic happened. Powerful social media platforms emerged and, seemingly overnight, captured the internet’s attention. All eyes were on social sharing networks as casual users and dedicated content creators alike migrated in droves to these popular new forums. You know their names: Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Snapchat. There are others, but these platforms are the most popular by user count and most notorious for the effects they’ve had on the digital creative economy.
Is the Creator Economy People Performing Their Dream Jobs?
In many ways, the Creator Economy consists of people performing their dream job. It gives people a chance to specialize in their passion. A generation ago, you might have had to go to work in a traditional shop, office, or factory. At night, you could come home and engage in your preferred leisure activity. You might have secretly hoped that you could become a professional in your favorite activity. Some actors, musicians, and sportspeople succeeded in their dreams. But most people simply played their games, engaged in their hobbies, or passively consumed content in their leisure time, unpaid, often losing a considerable sum of money to their leisure pursuits.
Now many more people can make money from their passions. Who would have thought you could earn a living from sitting at home playing computer games, commentating as you make your moves. How many amateur writers would have expected that they could earn an income from their craft, or teenagers thought they could make money from making funny videos in their backyard? Two decades ago, a generation watched enthralled at the antics of the Jackass crew, unaware that their future sons and daughters would be sharing similar videos to larger audiences just by using their phones.
In this digital wasteland for creators, a few new platforms have emerged to build new channels of support. These innovative new tools are fantastic for supporting creators, but they were not built idealistically — rather, they were built as a direct response to the flawed ecosystem created by popular social platforms like Facebook and YouTube. Patreon, for example, is a site that allows creators to offer creative works to “patrons” in exchange for different levels of monthly subscription fees. Bands can give early access to songs and music videos, while illustrators might offer custom pieces for high-tier patrons.
When creators publish content their audiences love, they’re rewarded with tokens issued by their followers, which can be transferred into other forms of value the creator can use. With broad-enough adoption, tokenized networks could become self-sustaining, self-sufficient platforms by which creators distribute their content and connect directly with their audiences — without the need for bloated, centralized intermediaries, overactive algorithms, and predatory advertising partners.