Creator funds have been one of the most important trends in social media over the past year. They’ve accelerated talk about how important the ‘creator economy’ is, but are they actually all that useful to creators in the long term?
As VidCon founder/recent TikTok star/longtime YouTuber Hank Green pointed out in a recent video essay
, creator funds may not be all they’re cracked up to be. It’s possible that these funds function better as a way to make the companies look good — “Hey! We’re paying independent artists!”
— than they do as a way for creators to make money.
While the YouTube Partner Program distributes a percentage of ad revenue to creators, creator funds like TikTok’s pay out from a static pool of money. So, as YouTube grows, the total amount of money paid out to creators will grow — over the last three years, the platform paid creators $30 billion
. (Through YouTube’s partner program, creators get 55%
of the money generated through ads on their videos.) But as TikTok grows, the size of its creator fund does not.
Case in point: superstar MrBeast says
he’s made just $14,910.92 (a very important 92 cents, there!) from what he estimates to be more than a billion views on TikTok. That’s a lot of money for some, but a drop in the ocean at his scale.
Meanwhile, creators are slamming Apple
for eating significantly into their earnings too.
It’s easy to stand back and say creators should just adapt to the realities of the business they’re in, but platform risk developing a reputation for not valuing enough the creators they rely upon.
TikTok says it will continue to refine its creator monetisation offerings. These funds are relatively new ideas, so it’s understandable that they’ll need time to develop. But creators with a big audience might find that anything less than a YouTube-style generous revenue split deal is selling them—and their importance to the platforms they use—short.