Who’s actually benefiting from the creator economy boom?

The top 1% of podcasters and video streamers earn the majority of revenue for those media verticals.

Source: Jason Miller/Getty Images

Who’s actually benefiting from the creator economy boom?

Like the green sweatsuit from “Squid Game,” the so-called creator economy exploded in 2021.

Powered by a suite of tools — from broadcasting (YouTube) to publishing (Substack) to payments (OnlyFans) — the trend was supposed to empower digital media creators of all types to earn a livable wage.

But actual riches across media verticals…

… are accruing to only the top creator, per AxiosSara Fischer:

  • Video: The top 1% of streamers on Twitch earn 50%+ of revenue (most earn $120 or less)
  • Podcasts: Top 1% of podcasters earn the “vast majority” of ad revenue
  • Newsletters: The top 10 Substack publications make $20m+ a year collectively (vs. the majority of less popular accounts making 5 figures)

This type of distribution is common entertainment

Superstars like Taylor Swift (music), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (film), and Lionel Messi (soccer) make many multiples of the average person in their field.

Investor Li Jin has offered recommendations on how platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok can help make a “creator middle class”:

  • Allow creators to capitalize on superfans
  • Offer a form of Universal Creative Income (UCI)
  • Provide capital investment to up-and-coming creators
  • Recommend content algorithmically with an element of randomness
  • Create passive (or almost-passive) income opportunities for creators

While these Big Tech platforms offer hundreds of millions in creator funds, more work needs to be done.

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