It’s hot labor summer—and the creator economy wants in. This week saw the launch of the Creators Guild of America (CGA), which aims to supply the burgeoning creator field with formal support. But it’s not quite a union. Instead, the CGA describes itself as a “service organization.” Here’s everything we know about how this organization is shaping up and a few questions we have about its goals.
Who is eligible?
Membership is divided into three categories: “media” (a typical creator or online personality), “marketing” (people who work on the brand side of things), and “maker” (founders and developers). For eligibility under the media category, creators have to meet at least two of the five requirements, which include having 15,000 followers, being verified, having at least 25,000 monthly website visits, over $15,000 paid activations, and five creative credits.
What are the benefits?
The CGA is focused on “empower[ing]” its members by “unifying” their needs in terms of transparency and fair treatment. It will also provide industry resources, examples of contracts, and payment averages to help members navigate contracts. Membership will also lead to accreditation, meaning projects and content can earn “industry credit,” which the CGA rather vaguely describes as a “public record of accomplishment.” And don’t forget the networking events and guild retreats.
But what counts as accredited work?
The organization uses Mosaic, a company with verification technology, to determine if content is real or not. This is to ensure that only real people are joining the guild. But it’s unclear what makes something a “creative credit,” which is one of the eligibility options for the media tier. Does any post on any social media site count as a creative credit? Or does it have to be a brand sponsorship or creative partnership post? The CGA did not respond to a request for comment.
How much does it cost to join?
Approved creators will have to pay a $99 annual fee. For anyone else, there is a free associate membership that lets creators receive updates and communication from the CGA through its newsletter.
Is the cost worth it?
For everything the Creator Guild promises, there are still some unanswered questions. After all, this isn’t the first time people have tried to unionize the creator industry—and the previous attempts have not been a resounding success. Whether this organization will be different will take time to assess.
If enough creators join, it could garner some strength as an institution. In other words, like any guild or union, it’s only as powerful as its membership. That said, the benefits currently listed on the website are fairly vague. Until the CGA proves what concepts like “fair treatment” and “best practices” actually mean, it’s hard to see what would entice creators to join.
Whether navigating problems like this and other legal matters will be part of the guild’s resources is fuzzy. It’s unclear if the guild will step in to defend creators whose work faces copyright claims or other legal problems. A major issue for many creators, copyright and fair use have been at the center of many creator controversies.
If the Creators Guild of America is for creators, why does it also represent marketing and company owners?
Ultimately, the CGA does not consider itself a labor union and therefore won’t engage in any collective bargaining on behalf of creators against companies.
Two of the CGA’s tiers—marketing and maker—are dedicated to the companies working within the creator economy. That can mean both the marketers who facilitate creator partnerships and brand deals as well as the people behind new social media platforms.
This is where the CGA gets a bit dicey. How can it claim to be a voice for both creators and the companies that have, historically, made content creation difficult? Brands lowball creators or simply don’t pay them. Companies make changes to their platforms that can hurt creators and constantly change payments. Obviously, both of these entities are critical to the creator economy at large. But their needs are often in opposition to creators.
Do creators care?
The launch of the Creators Guild of America is getting a fair bit of press, with outlets like The Information and Tech Crunch covering the news. However, few creators have spoken out about the organization or made content expressing their interest. Still, the organization does have a handful of big-name creators already associated with it, like YouTuber Justine Ezarik and TikToker Mitchell Crawford. However, even they haven’t made any official statement about the organization.
What are your thoughts on the new Creators Guild of America? Email [email protected] to share your thoughts.