Creator collectives create cash

March 12, 2020

Say hello to Oculudentavis khaungraae. That’s the name researchers have given the smallest dinosaur ever discovered. They found the skull of the bird-like creature embedded in a piece of amber from Myanmar that’s 99m years old. Why Oculudentavis? It’s a mashup of the Latin for eye, teeth, and bird. The research suggests the little guy was a predator, so let’s make clear: We welcome our tiny dino overlord. Today:

  • To get that cash, collectives might be key
  • You could get paid to bring back the bee
  • Huge virtual tours mean more sights to see
Content Ca$h Collectives

As the influencer industry evolves, creators are cashing in with ‘content collectives’

TikTok’s most popular creator, Loren Gray, has more than 40m followers. On YouTube, PewDiePie has more than 100m followers.

By lip-synching along to popular songs and playing video games these 2 creators built valuable personal brands: Gray earns an estimated $175k per TikTok; PewDiePie makes $15m+ a year. 

(YouTube revenue comes only from ads. TikTok revenue — though less consistent — comes from live streams, sponsored posts, and fees for song integrations.)

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But despite the huge success of these individuals, some creators now believe they can build bigger brands around groups.

Enter the ‘collectives’

They take several forms, but they’re based on the same idea: That influencers who band together can grab more eyeballs — and more money — than individuals.

The collectives have big ambitions, too: They hope to become full-blown media companies.

So, what do they look like?

Here are 3 forms of “creator collective” we’ve seen:

  • Collab houses: Creators move into a so-called “TikTok mansion” — such as the Hype House — so they can make cameos in each other’s videos and develop a reality TV-esque atmosphere that plays out over several accounts. It’s like the Marvel Cinematic Universe… but for influencers.
  • Talent incubators: Creators form a talent-management company and hire in-house influencer marketers so they can negotiate brand sponsorships, lines of merch, event partnerships, intellectual-property deals, and even film rights. In some cases, talent incubators are affiliated with their own collab houses (one company called TalentX puts up 6 of its influencers in Sway House for free — as long as they hit their content quotas).
  • Content studios: Creators form full-blown studios that promote big brands with custom content. Amp Studios develops a roster of both creators (actual influencers) and characters (fictional personas such as Zapp the superhero) to promote partners — which have so far included Chipotle, Coca-Cola, and Disney.

While some collectives are informal… others are super serious

The Hype House doesn’t formally exist as a financial entity — so anyone living there who wants to sell HH merchandise is on their own.

But Amp Studios — whose team generates 1B+ monthly social media views — collects a percentage of revenue earned by each member across every channel.

So, what’s the endgame? 

Brent Rivera, Amp’s founder, and his business partner told Business Insider the group’s goal is simple: To be the “Disney Channel for the YouTube age.”

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Mo Honey, Mo Money

Buzz… on? This state wants to pay you to raise bees

The Gopher State is bringing odd summer jobs to a new level. To keep beehives buzzing, the Minnesota legislature will pay homeowners $350 a month to plant a special grass mix in their backyards. 

The blend of grass feed and flowers is supposed to create “bee lawns,” a last-ditch effort to rescue honeybees from existential decline. As bee habitats disappear, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and dozens of other states are waxing poetic about the benefits of recruiting regular people to raise their insect neighbors.

Beez are stuck in a demographic honeytrap

Honeybees and other pollinators play a role in as much as ⅓  of the food we consume, but the bees are getting slammed. Last winter, an estimated 38% of honeybees disappeared across the US — the worst loss in the history of a survey conducted since 2006.

The culprit: colony collapse disorder, in which honeybees mysteriously disappear from their hives.

Scientists are still sorting through the causes, but one thing is clear. If they’re going to survive, bees need more stable places to call home.

The honeycomb jackpot

The Minnesota program is launching with a $900k budget — all sourced from state lottery profits. While some in the state insist that the program could put at risk the 3% of adults with bee allergies, many Minnesotans have no problem turning their lawns into a bee haven in exchange for some extra cash. 

The program only has enough funds to pay 300-400 people — but when it debuted last year, 4k Minnesotans applied.

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How is Trader Joe’s so different?

They broke all the rules…

(1) Size. You’ve probably noticed Trader Joe’s are a lot smaller than a regular grocery store — they carry 90% fewer SKUs than traditional stores (4k vs. 40k). 

What does that mean? Insanely high revenue per square foot (about $2k, compared to Whole Foods’ $1.2k or Wal-mart’s $600). 

(2) Private Labels. They private label just about everything, which makes consumers feel like TJ’s is the only place in the world that carries their favorite mango salsa or must-have chocolate bites.

What does that mean? Crazy brand loyalty and super high margins.

(3) Customer Focus. Most importantly, they’re all about you — the customer. They over-staff stores so you can always find (extra friendly) help, they don’t waste your time with rewards programs (they keep prices low all the time), and they don’t blast you with marketing.

What does that mean? Well, you just LOVE ‘em.

Every week on our podcast, Sam and Shaan discuss brilliant business strategies, ideas, and more so builders like you can get the brain food you need. Ready to learn?

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*Special thanks to our brilliant BFF Morgan Kee and killer notetaker Abreu Andrade for surfacing these TJ’s stats from a popular Freakonomics Radio episode

Log On and See the World

As tourism tumbles, more travelers consider virtual getaways

Less than 2 weeks ago, the Potala Palace — a popular Tibetan tourist magnet — saw a record-breaking 1m+ visitors.

Meanwhile, governments worldwide are telling people to avoid large gatherings and #StayTheF*ckHome —  to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The World Health Organization just declared the outbreak a pandemic, so at this point, packin’ it in at the Potala might sound a little… nuts. But take heart: The tourists all visited on their smartphones.

Landmarks are going ghost town…

…and tourist hotspots are going virtual. The idea isn’t new — you can even get your Francophile on(line) at the Louvre — but the options are expanding: 

  • Alibaba Live lets people peep the Potala Palace, explore the Magao Caves in northwestern China, and get their 🐼 fix at the Chengdu Panda Base.
  • One Chinese museum saw ~5.8m people flood its first 2 live-streamed tours — about the same number of IRL visitors to the museum in 3 months (!).
  • In the US, the online options at the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis and the Met in NYC might satisfy even the toughest couch-surfing art critic.

In China, the live streams turned into something else: revenue streams. Twenty museums have shops on Alibaba’s Taobao Live. One tour guide told Sixth Tone that souvenir sales on one busy virtual day were 4x higher than usual.

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A Forrester study on the economic impact of shows it can drive 288% ROI 

How in the heck does a visual project management platform do that?

The fine folks at Forrester had the same question. 

So, they did what any gainfully-employed group of researchers would do: strapped imitation horns to their foreheads, ventured into the forests of Silicon Valley, and studied this unicorn to get to the bottom of it.

“Strap in, folks… we’re going exploring!”

After tracking 100 employees of a global agency who used to see the impact it had on their work for years, here’s what they found: 

Year 1 

  • 15,600 total hours saved
  • 3 hours saved weekly by each employee using
  • 50% reduction in campaign launch meeting timelines
  • Less than 3 months payback period for the cost of the software

Year 3

  • 288% ROI
  • $525,095 value of team productivity improvement
  • $489,794 net present value
  • $134,525 value of reduced project timelines

So, want to make your team radically productive? 

Try →
The NFL Goes Global

The NFL is going after international players — but it really wants international fans

The NFL plans to expand its International Player Pathway Program for the 2020 season, CNBC reports.

Since 2017, the IPP has invited a handful of non-American players each year to try and win a spot on an NFL squad. Efe Obada, a defensive end with the Carolina Panthers, became the first to make a team’s final roster in 2018.

By expanding the program, the NFL hopes to make international players — and their future fans — a bigger part of the league. 

The NFL wants to look more like the NBA

In recent years, roughly 25% of the NBA’s players have been international (this season it’s 108 players, or 24% of the league).

In the NFL, in contrast, often fewer than 2% of players are international (last year it was 23 players, or about 1.4%).

By expanding the international pipeline, the NFL hopes to attract greater talent from abroad that it might otherwise be missing (specifically, the NFL has said it hopes to recruit international soccer players as kickers).

But it’s as much about fans as it is about players

When international players rise to the top of foreign leagues, people from their countries often take notice: Foreign-born NBA stars like Dirk Nowitzki and Yao Ming both built huge fan bases in their home countries of Germany and China.

Japanese-born Rui Hachimura, who is in his rookie season with the NBA’s Washington Wizards, is already among the league’s most marketable players.

So for the NFL, international fans are a huge, untapped fan base — and league officials are eager to engage with them.

“This is about creating local heroes that are going to grow fans in the markets they’re from,” Damani Leech, chief operating officer of NFL International, explained to ESPN.

The NFL’s Competition Committee is expected to decide on final approval of the change later this month.

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The Hustle Says

SXSW is cancelled (🤒), but you can still support the bands, venues, and service workers who are in a tough spot. Donate to the Banding Together ATX fundraiser, then treat yourself to beef enchiladas. You earned it. 

What’s that? You’re not familiar with South By? Then hold onto your headphones, because Sofar Sounds put together this Best Of rundown (and playlist!!!) from 2019’s event.

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Why dish on advertising secrets? Well, readers ask for them. A lot. In fact, understanding the finer points of our newsletter business is one of their most common requests.

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