The Creator Labor Economy is Broken. Pay Your Mods Anyway.


Don’t adjust your screens, we’re trying out some new stuff here on the newsletter. Starting with this long overdue meet-and-greet: Hi! I’m Drew Grant, and I’m the managing editor of Passionfruit. If you’ve noticed we’ve been shifting around our content coverage, I’m the person to blame for that.

Our goal is to make Passionfruit the destination for anyone working in the creator labor market. Now, why creator labor and not the creator economy? After all, the latter is an industry that will be worth either half a trillion dollars by 2027 (according to Goldman Sachs) or $75 billion by the end of this year (according to Citi). I guess technically both things could be true, but those numbers are pretty inconceivable for the people generating the content being monetized. The takeaway from both reports? The creator class will all need day jobs. 

Unless you are part of a very, very small percentile of YouTube or Twitch streamers, or social media “influencers” getting paid through brand deals, 95% of creators are left with mere crumbs on the table after platforms take their cut, which can be up to 85% of your revenue, depending on what service they provide. I know, that’s a lot of math. My head hurts too. 

But we’re not done yet: It turns out, the larger the playing field, the less of those crumbs there are to go around. Your YouTube channel can have a million subscribers and you still could be making less than a summer intern at Starbucks. There’s an inverse relationship between how many people are on a platform and how much money you can make from it. Indeed, Citi found that 90% of the profits on YouTube are made by less than 5% of creators.

You think pre-rolls are paying the bills? Think again. The creator economy does not have a middle class (and that’s a QUOTE from a BANK). You’re either making $.018 per view or you’re Mr. Beast making $300 million boat videos with Tom Brady.

And most of us are not Mr. Beast.

Luckily, we’re also not Colleen Ballinger either, although that’s a great example of how easily toxic and predatory behavior can flourish in gated and unregulated spaces where Internet celebrities interact with their fandom. Parasocial relationships are usually only discussed as a one-way street (that’s kind of the point), but Miranda Sings is turning out to be a case study in what not to do as a creator talking to minors, much of which could have seemingly been avoided with some adults in the room. Though arguably, adults in the Discord is what led to this whole mess in the first place. 

Either way, it’s a flustercuck. Invest in mods, people. They’re the unsung heroes of the creator workforce, and– as we’re finding out because of Reddit’s new API policy— the ones in charge of keeping the lights on for the entire Internet.

And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? No one should be doing this for free when there’s hundreds of billions of dollars being generated. When Elon Musk is telling creators they can get paid a TBD percentage of what subscribers are paying for access to their exclusive content, but only if they pay $11 a month for Twitter Blue (or save 13% by subscribing annually!). When even your bank is telling you to just give up and get a job already.

Creator labor is still labor. You want the product, you’ve got to pay us a living wage for it. Welcome to the resistance. Passionfruit: we hear for you!


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