2021 Was the Year of the Creator Economy. What's In Store for 2022?

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

2021 Was the Year of the Creator Economy. What's In Store for 2022?

Once upon a time, professionals in the entertainment industry had to master expensive programs like Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere Pro to stay in the game and win a coveted place at the top-tier companies that served as gatekeepers to stardom.

That landscape has shifted dramatically over the past few years. New platforms have opened up options for creatives and put them directly in touch with a massive audience. Major brands have developed an interest in reaching them (and established budgets meant to do just that). Meanwhile, the tools have become far more accessible and more varied. Creators can now rely on in-app editing, publishing and monetizing tools. All you need is a smartphone.

Today, 50 million see themselves as content creators, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub. Approximately 2.3 million of them say content creation is their full time-job.

It’s no surprise that young professionals might be drawn to an industry where they can set their own schedule and be their own boss. Morning Consult estimates that 86% of Gen Z and millennials now aspire to follow a path that doesn’t end with them in a cubicle. The pandemic has only accelerated this shift in mindset.

As 2021 draws to an end, here are a few trends to keep an eye on in the creator economy that suggest where the industry is headed.

New Platforms and New Models for Monetization

Creators and platforms go hand in hand, and monoliths such as Instagram, TikTok and Youtube will likely continue to serve as the primary outlet for creators, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

Social media giants are using well-endowed creator funds to keep creators on their platforms, paying them directly for popular content. In the past two years, at least 10 platforms have announced they'll be paying creators for their work. YouTube’s "shorts fund" is distributing $100 million through 2022. While only certain residents of certain countries are eligible, TikTok has said that within three years, its creator fund will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. and more than double that globally.

Still, in 2021, we saw creator economy startups launch frequently, aimed at subsegments of a social media audience. Social media companies, including many smaller players, have raised $800 million since October 2020, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

Los Angeles-based food video app Mustard is one such startup. Co-founder Diana Might designed her platform with the content creator very much in mind.

“There's so many food apps that cater first to the business and the restaurant, and our interests as foodies and content creators are the last in the line,” Might said.

Clash app founder Brendon McNerney and P.J. Leimgruber had a similar vision. Unlike rival platforms that require people to have a threshold of followers before they can receive payment, Clash has no barriers to entry.

“Our mission in clash is to make more full time creators, and the way that we do that is just make it accessible along with being fun and easy,” CEO Brendon McNerney said. McNerney wanted to create an app that gave creators the ability to make cash on social media without brand deals.

The Drive to Be Your Own Boss

In the past couple years, we’ve seen pressure from the pandemic combine with these social platforms to create a new form of entrepreneurialism. A generation has grown up believing that they can turn their passions into profit with the right approach. Meanwhile, a rampant virus has made remote work highly desireable and driven housebound audiences to platforms like TikTok and Twitch.

About 43% of the creators surveyed by influencer agency NeoReach make over $50k/year from their content alone, a drastic step up from the average Californian working a minimum wage job, who earns $27k a year.

Many of those who are able to collect an audience on social platforms go on to build businesses off their personal brands.

“Creators now make so much money from social media that crossing over isn’t the be-all and end-all. They can make millions of dollars in advertising on YouTube and sponsorships on Instagram,” said Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw. “They leverage their audience to start their own clothing or make-up line. And unlike many other creative pursuits, the creator economy has proven pandemic-proof.”

More Brands Turn to Influencers

Many companies were forced to adjust their advertising models in order to survive the pandemic as commercial shoots shut down and consumer habits changed. For many, the new hurdles ushered in a shift toward influencer marketing.

Instead of creating million-dollar ads for television, brands moved to social media, leveraging content creators across Instagram and TikTok to market their products. Adidas, which moved heavily into influencer marketing in the past few years, said it was able to increase its sales by 24%.

The result: Social media now plays a huge role in how consumers shop. Creators have the power to influence the purchasing decisions of others because of their knowledge of the products and overall rapport with their followers.

This last year proved the creator economy can work for brands. It was the year that influencers became ubiquitous. In 2022, expect these networks to grow and develop new models.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Brendon McNerney's first name and incorrectly stated Dom Hofmann was a co-founder of the app.

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Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
Here’s Why Streaming Looks More and More Like Cable
Evan Xie

The original dream of streaming was all of the content you love, easily accessible on your TV or computer at any time, at a reasonable price. Sadly, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have come together over the last decade or so to recognize that this isn’t really economically viable. Instead, the streaming marketplace is slowly transforming into something approximating Cable Television But Online.

It’s very expensive to make the kinds of shows that generate the kind of enthusiasm and excitement from global audiences that drives the growth of streaming platforms. For every international hit like “Squid Game” or “Money Heist,” Netflix produced dozens of other shows whose titles you have definitely forgotten about.

The marketplace for new TV has become so massively competitive, and the streaming landscape so oversaturated, even relatively popular shows with passionate fanbases that generate real enthusiasm and acclaim from critics often struggle to survive. Disney+ canceled Luscasfilm’s “Willow” after just one season this week, despite being based on a hit Ron Howard film and receiving an 83% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Amazon dropped the mystery drama “Three Pines” after one season as well this week, which starred Alfred Molina, also received positive reviews, and is based on a popular series of detective novels.

Even the new season of “The Mandalorian” is off to a sluggish start compared to its previous two Disney+ seasons, and Pedro Pascal is basically the most popular person in America right now.

Now that major players like Netflix, Disney+, and WB Discovery’s HBO Max have entered most of the big international markets, and bombarded consumers there with marketing and promotional efforts, onboarding of new subscribers inevitably has slowed. Combine that with inflation and other economic concerns, and you have a recipe for austerity and belt-tightening among the big streamers that’s virtually guaranteed to turn the smorgasbord of Peak TV into a more conservative a la carte offering. Lots of stuff you like, sure, but in smaller portions.

While Netflix once made its famed billion-dollar mega-deals with top-name creators, now it balks when writer/director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday”) asks for $150 million to pay her cast of A-list actors. Her latest romantic comedy will likely move over to Warner Bros., which can open the film in theaters and hopefully recoup Scarlett Johansson and Michael Fassbender’s salaries rather than just spending the money and hoping it lingers longer in the public consciousness than “The Gray Man.”

CNET did the math last month and determined that it’s still cheaper to choose a few subscription streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime over a conventional cable TV package by an average of about $30 per month (provided you don’t include the cost of internet service itself). But that means picking and choosing your favorite platforms, as once you start adding all the major offerings out there, the prices add up quickly. (And those are just the biggest services from major Hollywood studios and media companies, let alone smaller, more specialized offerings.) Any kind of cable replacement or live TV streaming platform makes the cost essentially comparable to an old-school cable TV package, around $100 a month or more.

So called FAST, or Free Ad-supported Streaming TV services, have become a popular alternative to paid streaming platforms, with Fox’s Tubi making its first-ever appearance on Nielsen’s monthly platform rankings just last month. (It’s now more popular than the first FAST service to appear on the chart, Paramount Global’s Pluto TV.) According to Nielsen, Tubi now accounts for around 1% of all TV viewing in the US, and its model of 24/7 themed channels supported by semi-frequent ad breaks couldn’t resemble cable television anymore if it tried.

Services like Tubi and Pluto stand to benefit significantly from the new streaming paradigm, and not just from fatigued consumers tired of paying for more content. Cast-off shows and films from bigger streamers like HBO Max often find their way to ad-supported platforms, where they can start bringing in revenue for their original studios and producers. The infamous HBO Max shows like “The Nevers” and “Westworld” that WBD controversially pulled from the HBO Max service can now be found on Tubi or The Roku Channel.

HBO Max’s recently-canceled reality dating series “FBoy Island” has also found a new home, but it’s not on any streaming platform. Season 3 will air on TV’s The CW, along with a new spinoff series called (wait for it) “FGirl Island.” So in at least some ways, “30 Rock” was right: technology really IS cyclical.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

As TikTok Faces a Ban, Competitors Prepare to Woo Its User Base
Evan Xie

This is the web version of dot.LA’s daily newsletter. Sign up to get the latest news on Southern California’s tech, startup and venture capital scene.

Another day, another update in the unending saga that is the potential TikTok ban.

The latest: separate from the various bills proposing a ban, the Biden administration has been in talks with TikTok since September to try and find a solution. Now, having thrown its support behind Senator MarkWarner’s bill, the White House is demanding TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sell its stakes in the company to avoid a ban. This would be a major blow to the business, as TikTok alone is worth between $40 billion and $50 billion—a significant portion of ByteDance’s $220 billion value.

Clearly, TikTok faces an uphill battle as its CEO Shou Zi Chew prepares to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week. But other social media companies are likely looking forward to seeing their primary competitor go—and are positioning themselves as the best replacement for migrating users.


Last year, The Washington Post reported that Meta paid a consulting firm to plant negative stories about TikTok. Now, Meta is reaping the benefits of TikTok’s downfall, with its shares rising 3% after the White House told TikTok to leave ByteDance. But this initial boost means nothing if the company can’t entice creators and viewers to Instagram and Facebook. And it doesn’t look promising in that regard.

Having waffled between pushing its short-form videos, called Reels, and de-prioritizing them in the algorithm, Instagram announced last week that it would no longer offer monetary bonuses to creators making Reels. This might be because of TikTok’s imminent ban. After all, the program was initially meant to convince TikTok creators to use Instagram—an issue that won’t be as pressing if TikTok users have no choice but to find another platform.


Alternatively, Snap is doing the opposite and luring creators with an ad revenue-sharing program. First launched in 2022, creators are now actively boasting about big earnings from the program, which provides 50% of ad revenue from videos. Snapchat is clearly still trying to win over users with new tech like its OpenAI chatbot, which it launched last month. But it's best bet to woo the TikTok crowd is through its new Sounds features, which suggest audio for different lenses and will match montage videos to a song’s rhythm. Audio clips are crucial to TikTok’s platform, so focusing on integrating songs into content will likely appeal to users looking to recreate that experience.


With its short-form ad revenue-sharing program, YouTube Shorts has already lured over TikTok creators. It's even gotten major stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift to promote music on Shorts. This is likely where YouTube has the best bet of taking TikTok’s audience. Since TikTok has become deeply intertwined with the music industry, Shorts might be primed to take its spot. And with its new feature that creates compiles all the videos using a specific song, Shorts is likely hoping to capture musicians looking to promote their work.


The most blatant attempt at seducing TikTok users, however, comes from Triller, which launched a portal for people to move their videos from TikTok to its platform. It’s simple, but likely the most effective tactic—and one that other short-form video platforms should try to replicate. With TikTok users worried about losing their backlog of content, this not only lets users archive but also bolsters Triller’s content offerings. The problem, of course, is that Triller isn’t nearly as well known as the other platforms also trying to capture TikTok users. Still, those who are in the know will likely find this option easier than manually re-uploading content to other sites.

It's likely that many of these platforms will see a momentary boost if the TikTok ban goes through. But all of these companies need to ensure that users coming from TikTok actually stay on their platforms. Considering that they have already been upended by one newcomer when TikTok took over, there’s good reason to believe that a new app could come in and swoop up TikTok’s user base. As of right now, it's unclear who will come out on top. But the true loser is the user who has to adhere to the everyday whims of each of these platforms.


We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

We Asked Our Readers How They’re Using AI in a Professional Setting. Here's What They Said
Evan Xie

According to Pew Research data, 27% of Americans interact with AI on a daily basis. With the launch of Open AI’s latest language model GPT-4, we asked our readers how they use AI in a professional capacity. Here’s what they told us:

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