It’s Never Been Better To Be Talent

If you make stuff for the internet, and are good at it, you are very happy right now.

Alex Kantrowitz
OneZero
Published in
5 min readJul 16, 2021

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It’s an absolutely incredible moment to be creating stuff online.

After long neglecting people who create content for their products, the tech platforms are showering them with money, support, and opportunity. Facebook just pledged $1 billion to creators by 2022. TikTok is on its way there. YouTube, Pinterest, and others are promising millions of their own. Snapchat wouldn’t return creators’ calls a few years ago; now, it’s paying them millions per month.

We’re seeing a stark — but inevitable — shift in the conventional belief that user-generated content was enough to fill social platforms’ feeds, and keep them vibrant. It turns out that making videos, photos, or words that people want to watch or read is difficult. Only a select few are good at it. And the platforms are all competing for their work. So, it’s advantage: talent.

“We want to build the best platforms for millions of creators to make a living,” Mark Zuckerberg said yesterday, no doubt looking at TikTok’s hasty, creator-driven incursion on his territory. The bulk of Facebook’s payments will likely go to thousands — not millions — of creators. But its plan to supply a livelihood to individuals who post on its services represents a significant shift.

Just five years ago, a group of Vine creators walked into Twitter’s headquarters and asked to be paid for their work. Going viral was fun, they said, but the app would be nothing without them, so they wanted to be compensated. Twitter balked at the request, Vine crumbled, and the rest is history. Creators moved to Snapchat and YouTube (the former had promise, the latter had money), and both platforms are now worth billions.

When TikTok arrived a few years later, it didn’t rely on its technology alone. The company struck deals with creators, paid some of them salaries, and emailed updates winking at what trends would be popular (check out Bloomberg’s Foundering podcast for more). TikTok’s creators responded, and it’s now the most vibrant social app in the world. TikTok recently became the first non-Facebook app to hit 3 billion downloads. And Facebook is now so concerned that, on top of the…

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Alex Kantrowitz
OneZero

Veteran journalist covering Big Tech and society. Subscribe to my newsletter here: https://bigtechnology.substack.com.