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Creator Economy

Giving creators the power of content monetization and audience engagement.

Overview

Giving the power of content monetization and audience engagement to creators

From YouTube to TikTok to Clubhouse, digital content creators have developed into an animating force in the media, communications, and technology industries over the past decade. And over time, a growing network of tools, products, and services have developed around content and social media platforms to monetize opportunities for creators—influencers, celebrities, artists, etc.— to earn income outside of traditional and ad-supported distribution channels. The economic relationship between creators and their audience is, in turn, becoming more straightforward than ever as fans pay directly for exclusive content, interactions, and experiences; with creator platforms sitting in the middle, earning revenue through each transaction.

Alongside social platforms, creators are turning to platforms such as Patreon, Cameo, Substack, and Teachable that prioritize paid content over freemium offerings and provide the opportunity to maintain a continuous engaging relationship with their audience from production, to discovery, to monetization.

What's driving this industry?
Market Sizing

The creator platform market in the US could reach USD 2.4-5.3 billion by 2025

Conservative case

USD 2.4 Bn

Base case

USD 3.6 Bn

Expansion case

USD 5.3 Bn

USD billion012345202020212022202320242025
View details

COVID-19 IMPACT

  • Patreon had over 30,000 creators signing up within the first three weeks of March 2020, ending the month with a total of 50,000 new creators.

  • OnlyFans reported a 75% month-over-month (MoM) increase in sign-ups in April 2020, observing a daily increase of 200,000 users on average.

  • TikTok monthly US active users grew from 40 million in October 2019 to over 100 million in August 2020. Monthly global active users also grew from almost 508 million in December 2019 to nearly 690 million in July 2020.

  • Substack recorded a 60% rise in revenue and doubling of its user count within the first three months of the pandemic.

  • Cameo’s MoM revenue jumped 400% in April 2020 making April 2020 its first profitable month since its inception in 2017.

View detail

Market Mapping


The creator economy largely revolves around videos, live streams, photos, and podcasts. Therefore the market segment covering these areas is more mature and therefore more highly populated with incumbents compared to the other segments.

However, new concepts in creator-fan interaction—primarily facilitated by membership providers—can guarantee monetization for creators unlike more established freemium and ad-supported models. This segment includes established disruptors such as Patreon, escapex, and OnlyFans—providing an alternative to video content and blogs. Most of the disruptors in this segment are membership-based with creators and fans able to offer and purchase a range of interaction options at different price points.

Amid a sustained interest in cryptocurrency, adoption of blockchain-related services including NFT (Non-Fungible Token) platforms have also gained traction as a new way of creator content monetization. This segment lacks incumbents and significant fundraising activity and therefore includes several Seed and Pre-Seed level companies.

Incumbents
Growth
Early
Seed
Pre-Seed
Videos/ live stream/ photography/ podcasts
?
Newsletters/ writing/ blogs
?
Multiple facilities platform
?
Membership providers
?
Infrastructure providers
?
NFT platforms
?
(WordPress.com)
(WordPress.com)
(WordPress.com)
(WordPress.com)
(WordPress.com)
(WordPress.com)
Google (YouTube)
Meta (Facebook)
Meta (Instagram)
ByteDance (TikTok)
Amazon (Twitch)
Spotify
Acast
Snap Inc (Snapchat)
Apple Podcasts
HubSpot
Pinterest
Cameo
OnlyFans
memmo.me
Sounder.fm
WeAre8
Encore
Audioboom
Audiomack
ViewBug
Community
Superpeer
Newness
Google (Blogger)
Meta (Facebook)
Twitter
WordPress
Automattic (WordPress.com)
Medium
Substack
Dorian
Subtext
Community
Buttondown
Zestworld
Meta (Facebook)
Twitter
Automattic (Tumblr)
Hotmart
Microsoft (LinkedIn)
Dropbox
Patreon
Spring
Gumroad
Calaxy
Fanhouse
Pietra
Disciple Media
Podia
Vodra
Amazon (Twitch)
Spotify
Apple Podcasts
Patreon
Medium
Gumroad
OnlyFans
Clubhouse
Mighty Networks
Circle
Fanhouse
Tellie
Disciple Media
Subtext
Community
Superpeer
Sunroom
Vampr
Podia
Luma
Acast
Shopify
Lightricks
Spotter
Linktree
Splice
Talenthouse
Jellysmack
Riverside.fm
Koji
Sounder.fm
Maestro
Creative Juice
Pepper
Pietra
Liv
Tellie
Zencastr
Glip
Stir Money
Mash
Vampr
Podia
Luma
Direcon
Omnuum
Replay
Uppbeat
Passionfroot
Superjoi
Buzzup
AudioLabs
Gemini (Nifty Gateway)
Crypto.com
Binance
eBay
Animoca Brands (The Sandbox)
Coinbase
Reddit
OpenSea
Magic Eden
Spring
Decentraland
Rarible
Tellie
SuperRare
Pianity
KnownOrigin
ViewBug
Mintable
Dank Bank
RareCircles
Afterparty
Novel
Portion
Momento NFT
Cent
Artemis
Blockparty
Foundation Labs
Kalamint
PolyOne
Kollektor
OurSong
NOWwhere
SoundMint
FUEL
Ninetales
Acquicent

The Disruptors


Disruptors offer a more personal mode of creator-fan engagement

The disruptors of the creator economy are bringing about more intimate channels for creator-fan interactions (such as Cameo, escapex, OnlyFans), in addition to platforms where individual creator monetization is guaranteed (such as Patreon, Substack). These disruptors enable creators to actively engage with their audience, predominantly via video or text, and have seen rapid growth, bringing fierce competition to existing incumbents.

Videos/ live stream/ photography/ podcasts

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Audioboom
Public - Market cap USD 177.2 mn
Cameo
166
memmo.me
24
Sounder.fm
21
WeAre8
17
Encore
11
Superpeer
10
Audiomack
6
OnlyFans
Unknown
ViewBug
Unknown
Community
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Newness

Newsletters/ writing/ blogs

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Medium
163
Substack
82
Dorian
19
Community
Unknown
Subtext
Unknown
Buttondown
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Zestworld

Multiple facilities platform

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Patreon
413
Spring
62
Calaxy
34
Fanhouse
21
Gumroad
16
Pietra
15
Disciple Media
6
Watchlist
?
Podia
Vodra

Membership providers

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Patreon
413
Medium
163
Clubhouse
110
Mighty Networks
66
Circle
30
Fanhouse
21
Gumroad
16
Superpeer
10
Tellie
10
Disciple Media
6
OnlyFans
Unknown
Community
Unknown
Subtext
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Sunroom
Vampr
Podia
Luma

Infrastructure providers

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
Talenthouse
Public - Market cap USD 89.1 mn
Lightricks
335
Spotter
231
Linktree
166
Splice
160
Riverside.fm
47
Koji
36
Jellysmack
22
Sounder.fm
21
Maestro
21
Creative Juice
20
Pepper
19
Pietra
15
Liv
12
Tellie
10
Zencastr
5
Glip
3
Watchlist
?
Stir Money
Mash
Uppbeat
Vampr
Passionfroot
Podia
Luma
Superjoi
Buzzup
Direcon
AudioLabs
Omnuum
Replay

NFT platforms

?

Disruptors

?
Funding in USD Millions
OpenSea
427
Magic Eden
160
Spring
62
Decentraland
51
Rarible
16
Tellie
10
Pianity
7
KnownOrigin
5
ViewBug
Unknown
Watchlist
?
Mintable
SuperRare
Dank Bank
RareCircles
Afterparty
Novel
Portion
Momento NFT
Cent
Artemis
FUEL
Blockparty
Ninetales
Foundation Labs
Acquicent
Kalamint
PolyOne
Kollektor
OurSong
NOWwhere
SoundMint

Audioboom

Audioboom enables creators to host, distribute, and monetize their podcasts. Audioboom audiences can consume its content on multiple partnered platforms, including Apple Podcasts, CastBox, Spotify, Deezer, Google Podcasts, and iHeart, offering podcast advertising solutions as well. The company’s embeddable player also allows creators to share their content on their own websites and social media. Audioboom also has an in-house podcasting studio that produces shows such as ‘F1: Beyond the Grid’ and ‘What Makes a Killer’. The Audioboom Group PLC was listed on the London Stock Exchange in December 2005.

In February 2022 , Amazon and Spotify were both reportedly exploring bidding options to acquire Audioboom, a UK-based podcasting platform. Sources reported that Amazon and Spotify may present their formal offers in the near future.

Audioboom’s FY2021 revenue grew significantly by 125% YoY to USD 60 million. FY2021 adjusted EBITDA turned positive to USD 3.0 million, compared to an EBITDA loss of USD 1.8 in FY2020. The company also reported in January 2022, that it has already booked USD 45 million in ad campaigns for 2022.

Segment:
Videos/ live stream/ photography/ podcasts
Total funding:
USD 7.6 million
Competitors:
Spotify, Audiomack, Sounder.fm
Disruptor Funding History

Videos/ live stream/ photography/ podcasts:

Audioboom
Cameo
memmo.me
Sounder.fm
WeAre8
Encore
Superpeer
Audiomack
Newness

Newsletters/ writing/ blogs:

Medium
Substack
Dorian
Zestworld

Multiple facilities platform:

Patreon
Spring
Calaxy
Fanhouse
Gumroad
Pietra
Disciple Media
Podia
Vodra

Competitive Analysis


Filter by a segment or companies of your choice
Videos/ live stream/ photography/ podcasts

*Residual of creator earnings/sales value minus platform cut taken as a proxy and does not consider other applicable fees

Incumbents


Acquisitions are the most common form of entry

Major social media platforms including Facebook, Google, Twitter, and ByteDance are all key incumbents in the creator economy as well as global internet companies Amazon, Spotify, and WordPress maker Automattic. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is a common path into the creator economy, with Google and Amazon entering the space solely through their acquisitions of YouTube and Twitch, respectively. Facebook, on the other hand, maintains dominance by purchasing startups with developers building social products.

Acquisition

In-house development

Partnership

Investment

Google (YouTube)
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Google (Blogger)
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Meta (Facebook)
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Meta (Instagram)
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Twitter
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ByteDance (TikTok)
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WordPress
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Automattic (WordPress.com)
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Automattic (Tumblr)
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Amazon (Twitch)
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Spotify
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Hotmart
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Acast
check
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Snap Inc (Snapchat)
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Gemini (Nifty Gateway)
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Crypto.com
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Microsoft (LinkedIn)
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Apple Podcasts
check
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Binance
check
eBay
check
Animoca Brands (The Sandbox)
check
check
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Coinbase
check
Shopify
check
HubSpot
check
Reddit
check
Pinterest
check
Dropbox
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Google (YouTube)

Creators are able to make money on YouTube primarily via an advertising revenue sharing agreement with the platform. YouTube also has more than 50 million music and premium paid subscribers, and more than 4 million YouTube TV subscribers as of September 2021. Creators with a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 viewed hours of content are eligible to join the company’s Partners Program and receive a 55% share of advertising revenue generated from their videos.

In January 2021, YouTube reported that it has paid over USD 30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies over the last three years under its YouTube Partner Program. The growth of the YouTube Partner Program eventually led to the winding down of its original content group in January 2022 after more than six years of its being in operation. The decision was taken to focus on supporting creators through other initiatives, such as YouTube’s Creator Shorts Fund, Black Voices Fund, and Live Shopping programming. In February 2021, the company stated that in order to invest in the “next generation” of video, YouTube will be introducing new features in 2021, including those aimed at creators. These include 1) a short-form vertical video tool resembling TikTok, called “Shorts,” and 2) expanding its creator monetization tools with the introduction of the “Applause” feature. The “Shorts” tool, that allows creators to take short videos using their phones, expanded in beta version to the US in March 2021 after launching in India in beta in September 2020. YouTube reported that its Shorts trial run in India resulted in more than 3.5 million views per day and since its expansion, the Shorts player has exceeded 6.5 billion daily views globally (as of May 2021). In May 2021, to boost the Shorts tool, YouTube announced its YouTube Shorts Fund (open to all who create original content for Shorts and is not limited to those in the YouTube Partner Program), aiming to distribute USD 100 million to creators over 2021–2022. The platform intends to reach out to and pay “thousands” of creators who receive the most engagement and views on their Shorts videos every month. Meanwhile, YouTube partnered with the DIY music distribution platform TuneCore and its Paris-based parent company, Believe, to provide music for YouTube Shorts. As of January 2022, YouTube Shorts recorded over 5 trillion all time views and the number of channels earning more than USD 10,000 a year increased by 40% year-over-year.

YouTube launched “Super Thanks” in July 2021 enabling fans to tip creators between USD 2–USD 50 for a video. The feature was initially beta tested as “Applause”, and based on feedback and suggestions, was renamed Super Thanks. This feature is YouTube’s fourth Paid Digital Good allowing fans to directly pay creators following Super Chat, Super Stickers, and channel subscriptions. Super Thanks is the first to allow tipping for uploaded videos rather than livestreams. The Super Thanks feature will be available to creators (members of the YouTube Partner Program) in 68 countries and will be expanded to all eligible creators in the YouTube Partner Program by the end of the year. The company reported that over 10 million users purchased either a Super Chat, Super Sticker, or channel subscription for the first time in 2020. The number of channels earning most of their revenue from these products increased over threefold in 2020 compared to 2019. YouTube takes a 30% cut of the digital goods sales.

In March 2021, YouTube announced the deduction of estimated taxes and fees on the income earned from viewers within the US for all creators (YouTube Partner Program members), including those who do not live in the US, stating that Google will be required to deduct US taxes from payments to creators outside of the US as early as June 2021. The taxable income includes income via ad views, Super Chat, YouTube Premium, Super Stickers, and Channel Memberships. The company stated that if tax information has not been provided by May 31st 2021, Google may be required to deduct up to 24% of the creator’s total global earnings. The company stated this change will not affect US creators, who saw a similar change in November 2020. US-based creators are only required to check if their AdSense information has been provided in full.

Following announcements made by other popular platforms Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on embracing NFT-related features, in January 2022, YouTube also expressed its intention to expand its ecosystem by enabling creators to capitalize on emerging technologies, including NFTs. YouTube also introduced a Merch Shelf feature allowing creators to showcase their official branded merchandise. Analysts speculate that YouTube may use this feature to allow users to showcase their NFTs, in partnership with third-party NFT platforms and crypto wallets, or even build its own infrastructure and tools to integrate NFT support on YouTube profiles.

In March 2022, reports circulated stating that YouTube is offering a select group of prominent podcasters “grants” ranging from USD 50,000 to USD 300,000 to create video versions of their podcasts or other video-based content better suited for its platform. The move follows other decisions taken by YouTube, such as the removal of the background video listening restriction (only for Canadian users), which was earlier available only to YouTube Premium users, to counter the increased competition in the podcasting space.

Notable Investors


No investor data is available

Funding data are powered by Crunchbase
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