The Shift: Issue #19

The rise of the creator economy; the 'unbundling of work'; paid newsletters; the Second Renaissance is coming...

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen enormous growth in the Creator Economy—independent creators making money from online content. It’s down to the rise of the gig economy, better tech—5G, faster internet, and new social networks & products. Covid19 is speeding things up - we’re at home and online more.   
There’s also been a shift in consciousness towards caring more about being happy in our jobs, having control over our time, and being our own boss. We want to make a living doing work we’re passionate about that creates change. Gen Z’ers grew up with the internet and social media and place a high value on self-expression. I can see how my daughter and her friends interact online.
According to Li Jin, we’re in the process of the ‘unbundling of work’ i.e. moving from companies to independent solo businesses.
A new report from Signalfire takes a deeper view of the ecosystem to give us some context, a history of the creator economy and trends to watch. It’s a fascinating read – useful for investors looking for opportunities and creators needing help.
Over 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators—it’s the fastest-growing type of small business.
Professional Individual Creators (2M+)—Making content full-time: 
YouTube: Of the 31M channels on YouTube—1M creators have over 10K subscribers (source
Instagram: Of the 1BN accounts on Instagram, 500K have over 100K followers and are considered active influencers (source
Twitch: Of the 3M streamers on Twitch, 300K have either Partner or Affiliate status (source
Others: including musicians, podcasters, writers, illustrators etc—total 200K
A lot of this is entertainment, but that 200K other includes journalism—local news sites, paid newsletters, and documentaries. Journalism is transforming and reinventing itself – Tortoise (the slow journalism platform) launched via Kickstarter, and we’re seeing the rise of the email newsletter via Substack. “These days it feels like everyone has a Substack”- Courier mag said last week. It may be cyclical but it’s not all doom and gloom for journalism as the narrative goes! 
“There’s a whole lot of journalism going on in this sector of the media, and I predict that in another five years or so we’ll stop measuring the health of the industry solely based on the economic fortunes of legacy newspaper chains. By that point, it’ll be beyond dispute that journalism is at its richest point in human history—what Jack Conte, the CEO of Patreon, recently called the Second Renaissance.” – Simon Owens’ Tech & Media Newsletter.
So, what are the opportunities for creators and startups interested in this space? 
There are three trends that will gain momentum through 2020 and beyond, says Julia Maltby, an investment associate at Flybridge.
1.     Creators and fans will have collaborative relationships, vs one-way relationships—creators are asking for feedback on their products/services via polls, etc. ZebraIQ and Jemi are two companies to watch in this space.
2.     A rise of educational tools, content and community for new creators. More resources to help creators monetise their content and understand audience growth. Substack is starting to do more of this to help its writers launch paid offerings.
3.     More platforms geared towards supporting the needs of online creators, e.g. in fintech, Karat (the first credit card for streamers & influencers) incorporates creator stats into banking.
I’m excited to see this evolve—there’s an enormous amount of talent, creativity and entrepreneurship in the creator economy and it needs to be celebrated. Also, great to see the democratisation of media – we now have access to content from every sub-culture so a much broader education than I had growing up. I can remember watching Channel 4 for the first time with my parents. Twin Peaks – what a revolution! I’d never seen anything like it ;-)
As the report says, creators are the new founders—creators become creators because they love to create. As with the gig economy, we need to challenge the narrative that you “Gotta hustle to succeed” and work all hours – a fast route to burnout. Here’s streamer Samuel Earney @IamSp00n talking about his experiences of burnout and how we need to create a healthier work culture.
Things are moving fast, but it’s ok to take a break. Energy is finite. We are man, not machine ;-)
If you are working in this space, it would be great to connect—email or DM me @niccitalbot. 
Things I’ve enjoyed this week:
Courier Weekly 🎧 – Charlotte Williams of diversity-focused influencer marketing agency SevenSix on how best to work with nano and micro-influencers.
Julia Maltby on the rise of the creator economy
SignalFire’s Creator Economy Market Map
Jack Conte: The second renaissance is coming
Simon Owens: Should media companies be afraid of Substack?
Li’s Newsletter: 100 True Fans - how you can make a living with 100 true fans (not 1000)

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Photo by Aviv Rachmadian on Unsplash