Creator Personal Brand Amplifiers are Coming
Will Spread to TikTok and Other Creator Platforms
The YouTube Catalog Licensing Trend Will Scale
The trend of major YouTube starts getting cash for a cut of YouTube back Catalog revenue will expand into other areas.
Web3 VC (e.g. NFT ecosystems)
Think about it, A YouTuber’s back catalog becomes a financial asset — every month, they know they’ll get a payout from ever-increasing engagement on their past content.
Now, the Los Angeles-based startup Spotter wants to “help creators scale” their channels faster by offering them large sums of upfront cash in exchange for the future ad revenue from their existing uploads.
This is not even a Web3 ploy, it’s mainstream YouTube culture now.
So let’s get into it:
VC Personal Brand Amplifiers
The cash can be used for Creators to grow their empires faster, than making their supporters more money.
I’m surprised that this isn’t an a16z scheme, but Softbank backed.
So you thought this was just for big YouTube stars right?
Not so, this past week Jellysmack announced their partnership with Pinterest influencers.
How does this trend of selling “equity in your personal brand” not scale now to all social channels including Substack? This will give some Creators are huge competitive advantage over others, and more pressure to grow faster.
Go Big or Go Home
Spotter claims to be on track to reach a cumulative total of $1 billion invested in creators by mid-2023, four years after the company was founded.
Spotter’s business model is a contemporary interpretation of the “Bowie Bond,” which is becoming more popular among creator economy startups.
Attack of the Bowie Bond
A Bowie bond was a unique type of asset-backed security which used as collateral the royalty streams from current (at the time) and future album sales and live performances by musician David Bowie.
Web3 VCs and YouTube catalogue Spotters will tell you this isn’t at all like selling equity in your personal brand, but I think that’s exactly what it’s like. At the start of 2022, Jellysmack also earmarked $500 million to license back catalogs on YouTube.
How this scales to other social media platforms including Substack will be interesting to watch. In the attention economy, anything goes, from TikTok disrupting time spent on Instagram, Snap, YouTube to even Netflix.
The Personal Brand Commodity Economy
How does a regular micro-creator who has backers on Patreon or Substack, compete potentially against a Sponsored creator? Amplified by a marketing budget, PR firms, legit campaigns and the like?
First in Web2 we were forced to share our private data and user preferences with BigTech, but in Web3 we will likely sell our souls to corporations, quite literally for the expectations, promise, carrot of future growth.
I’ve seen how young GenZ Creators invested in YouTube take this, this is their entire fucking life.
Even as Snap, LinkedIn, Pinterest and others do tiny “Creator Funds”. As YouTube improves advertising revenue sharing and scales, the likes of TikTok and Snap need to follow along, it gets pretty expensive.
Meanwhile many TikTok influencers never monetize their personal brand or following properly. I’ve seen tons of LinkedIn posts about this. So who comes in to the rescue? It’s actually going to nefarious VC and Creator Accelerators and Creator Agencies. It’s not just toxic, it will warp the fabric of competition online.
However at least the top influencers will be able to monetize better, am I right?
Since its launch in 2019, some of YouTube’s biggest creators like MrBeast and Like Nastya have struck deals with Spotter.
MrBeast like that guy I keep hearing about on the internet? Yep. I’m not into YouTube celebrities personally, but if you are GenZ, you likely know all of these people.
Jellysmack earmarked $500M in Capital to fund accomplished creators, i.e. YouTube Stars.
Not too long ago, Andreessen Horowitz launched its own ‘a16z START’ startup accelerator. Going after Y Combinator’s crowd. a16z thinks NFT platforms are more efficient for the future of Web3 in how it empowers the Creator Economy.
Their kid zone Variant Fund is going after a similar audience of early stage startups. What does all of this lead to? Fancy ideology for imprisoning personal brands and Creators into bonds of slavery ushering in a new era of exploitation, gig-economy workers and pyramid schemes.
Some call it the ownership economy? But with all the lessons of Silicon Valley, some of us know better.
AI can Predict your Potential Future Earnings
Jellysmack's unmatched deep data and AI capabilities enable the company to predict potential earnings of any given creator's YouTube video catalog and offer lump sum payments ranging from $50,000 to $50,000,000 or more to qualifying creators.
If Spotter and Jellysmack have tools to predict your future earnings on YouTube, they will replicate this for all social media influencers and they will simply create a wider gulf between the 1% and the 99% of other less “professional” creators.
Sort of like how Substack leaderboards makes them more money, but also makes earnings of the top Creators, less equal.
This is morally wrong, but this is how the Attention economy works, and how startups will scale their own business models.
The “Creator Economy” being owned by VCs, accelerators, brand amplifiers and PR agencies is not entirely a beautiful thought. For every hype scheme there’s people making money on the back of the hard work of young people.
What to do? People think the Creator Economy is like some FIRE or desirable job teenagers want to be when they grow up? The success stories are nice, but funny how we don’t hear much about the failure stories.
Even how Substack explains and rationalizes Substack Pro Deals is a bit sketchy. Giving some creators advantages over others isn’t great. Especially if your platform is all about recency anyways. The biggest correlation of Substack Creators to earnings is: how long they have kept doing it.
Now what if a YouTube creator came to Substack and was amplified by a VC?
In just 7 years, by 2030, the Creator Economy will look unrecognizable. Web3 platforms and the assault of VC on our souls will be incredible. Creators in the real creator economy are already hustling impoverished micro-influencers close to the point of burn-out. So what will they be tomorrow?
The hype and the reality have never been so different.
For the top Creators, they will have no choice.
“Creators have done second and third deals with us, so it’s not a one-and-done type of situation,” Spotter founder and CEO Aaron DeBevoise said.
Mr. Beast Syndrome
Wants to hire marketers and editors to distribute his videos across Instagram and TikTok. Hire a PR agency or get a Creator Amplifier to back you. Sell a portion of your future earnings to grow.
This is literally like selling equity in your personal brand for perpetuity.
It’s not dissimilar to venture capital investments — you give a promising company (or person) the money that they need to grow, assuming that eventually, you’ll recoup your investment and turn a sizable profit.
I personally may never be able to afford an editor on Substack, but for the youth of today, video is the answer. Entertainment, not information.
It’s like having the CCP basically monetize you as it aligns its social-credit system with the future of the Attention economy via TikTok. So many layers of this poorly understood.
Softbank like a16z couch their deal in ideology:
“Jellysmack's new catalog licensing model gives creators an upfront cash infusion to take the next steps for business growth without giving up any equity in their intellectual property, brand, or new ventures.”
So you want to be an Influencer?
This is like South Korea’s K-pop factories. It leads to a good product, but at what human cost?
If a creator wants to work with Spotter, the company will analyze their channel’s metrics to make them an offer for their back catalog. Over the past few years, Spotter has pioneered a new way for social media influencers to raise money and grow their operations. And they are not alone.
Pretty messed up. This is going to lead to a rather dystopian synthetic Creator economy of scale. So you want to be an influencer? The tactics VC are using are getting more greedy. With a lack of regulation in Web3, NFT platforms are going to get pretty intense around Creator monetization, and some of the results long-term of internet culture will be very far from desirable.