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August 16, 2022

India's Creator Economy Needs A Middle Class

On most social media platforms today, the ethos of ‘winner gets all’ is alive and well - a study of kids ages eight to 12 found that nearly 30% aspire to become YouTubers. With countless examples of unassuming ‘normal’ people achieving fame, wealth and success, this should come as no surprise. However, while some have garnered massive stardom, the prospect of achieving financial security from these platforms are few and far between.

On most social media platforms today, the ethos of ‘winner gets all’ is alive and well - a study of kids ages eight to 12 found that nearly 30% aspire to become YouTubers. With countless examples of unassuming ‘normal’ people achieving fame, wealth and success, this should come as no surprise. However, while some have garnered massive stardom, the prospect of achieving financial security from these platforms are few and far between.

The current creator landscape more closely resembles an economy in which wealth is concentrated at the top. There is massive income disparity, to put it mildly. On Patreon, only 2% of creators made the federal minimum wage of $1,160 per month in 2017.

The numbers are worse for emerging economies.

While in the online search category, this phenomenon has not proven true. Google has revealed that on a daily basis, 15% of all queries have never been searched before. This has remained constant since 2013. But the move to digital content hasn’t led to  a burgeoning long tail of commercial potential for the middle-order content creator.

On digital media, the top creators are massively successful, while long-tail creators are barely getting by.

There is massive media hype about the potential of content creation, and the meteoric rise of YouTubers, TikTokers and multiple teenage sensations on digital media platforms. This is the only talk in the world that will cover the realistic financial implications of content creation, the potential of the creator economy and offer a sustainable guide to a career in digital media and content creation.

So what can we do about it? On one hand, as creators, and consumers of digital media from these global digital conglomerates, we can start rallying to advocate for more inclusive content ranking algorithms, and a fairer, and more inclusive creator economy. And on the other hand, we must sensitize our teenagers and ourselves about the realistic economic potential of full-time content creation, especially in emerging economies like India.

What we need more of - in India and around the world is the ‘middle class creator’, aka ‘the creator employee’ - an individual who has a perspective on a topic of interest, and is not a ‘full-timer’ on the platform. If platforms focus on content types with lower replay value, empower niche creators, recommend content algorithmically with an element of randomness, facilitate collabs and community, provide capital investment to up-and-coming creators and help create passive (or almost-passive) income opportunities for them, they can create opportunities for anyone to grow and succeed on their platforms and build the foundation for a fairer creator economy.

To know more about my thoughts at the intersection of business, creativity and design, check out The Shy Sensationalist blog, and follow my LinkedIn profile!

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