This Week: Hey everyone, hope you had a great holiday break and are ready for 2024! I’m headed to the Creator Economy Live event January 16th and 17th in Las Vegas and just announced a meetup January 16th! RSVP for details, and I’ll share more next week.
Bit of a different format this week for the first newsletter of 2024. You’ve probably read a ton of 2024 prediction articles. This is not that. Instead, I’m focusing on the big trends that will define 2024. I’ve been curating these annual trends since 2014, when I started building the industry track at VidCon. They used to be somewhat private – we did want to sell tickets after all – but not now!
I’m focused on what 9 trends that will dominate the discourse in the creator economy in 2024. But further down you’ll also find a shorter “QUIBI” section with news stories and think pieces too – but it was relatively quiet the last few weeks. Let’s get started!
The Rise of the Global Creator: Translation, dubbing and video lip-syncing are now good enough for creators to quickly publish multi-language videos. Couple that with YouTube’s embrace of multi-language and now anyone, anywhere in the world can reach a global audience across many top languages today. Early adopter Mr. Beast used the technology last year to become the top creator in Korea, Brazil and Germany, along with the US, UK and Australia. Companies like Papercup have helped Veritassium, Jamie Oliver and many others go global. And as tech gets better expect to see more popular creators connect globally. Whinderson Nunes, Camila Cantinho, Juanpa Zurita, Ria Ricis, Hikakin and many more are poised for global expansion – if they want. But I’m as excited about the ones we don’t know today that will break out globally in 2024. Italian creator Khaby Lame was just the beginning.
There’s Life After Creating: I’ve been contemplating the creator life-cycle for 15 years, but we’ll all be talking about the “post-creator” world in 2024. Cat Valdes, Racka Racka, Kelsey Dara, Mystery Guitar Man and others used their creator expertise to build different adjacent careers. We’ll see more creator economy stalwarts like Peter Hollens and Adam Wescott help creators “get beyond the hamster wheel of cranking out talent”, as smart companies realize that “The University of YouTube” or the “College of TikTok” could be their best source for that new social media manager.
- Related: With many employees doubling as part-time creators, most companies will fumble the opportunity to tap into their communities – while others while others will harness them to build long-term value. I credit both Matt Story and Lia Haberman for surfacing this recently. Lia even went so far as to write that “People are the new logos”. Tremendous opportunity, but also a wicked minefield.
Creators Take Charge: I wrote about this after Web Summit, and again last week in a post about Tipalti’s creator survey. The power dynamic will continue to shift from brands to creators in 2024 – and those that don’t adapt will fade away. Creators will turn down mercenary brands that don’t align with their mission, goals, content, and opinions, and will continue to share brand horror stories with their peers. Expect creators to call even more of the shots in 2024 – and move to build their own brands too.
- Related: The death of the cookie will make creators and influencers even more attractive to advertisers.
- Related: The rise of the creator COO is real and will only accelerate in 2024. It may be fractional, it may be full time, but many creators building lasting businesses will seek help with non-content tasks. @Matt Estes writes and speaks about this often on LinkedIn and on his podcast. I also know many talented executives, recently out of work, who would be ideal for this role. And recruiter to the (creator economy) stars John McCarus has been doing a lot of work here too. Thinking about it yourself? Make sure you LOVE the content – and you’re OK with those 2am calls from your creator-boss.
Scale Won’t Save You: Facebook has changed – yet again – how it pays creators, opting for performance vs. revshare. YouTube sees $60+ CPMs on ad scatter on the NFL and other TV-type avails late last year, much richer than creator-based insertions. The end of free money, aka death of ZIRP, means it will be harder to sell videos, rent your back-catalog, and exit your channel or your company. TikTok has 14 different ways to make money, but it’s unclear who makes how much on what. The broader trend of platform intentionality as a revenue driver and gogo-growth resulting in acquisition is now dead. Instead, we’ll be talking about creators skilled at going live, telling multi-chapter stories, and excelling at leveraging social video as top-of-funnel bait driving fans into owned communities.
Social Video Growth is Dead: Pew’s recent study confirms this, as major social platforms have been mostly flat over the last three years. Growth is dead, short form has stalled, and in 2024 social video platforms will focus on stealing market share from each other, launching new adjacent businesses and focusing less on creators. The TikTok shop is great – but it’s really just an attempt to compete with Temu and Amazon. YouTube will follow the money all the way to TV dominance but where does that leave creators? Managing a growth business is very different from running it in a flat or declining market. Even more reason to grab your own slice of the pie in 2024.
Platforms and Toxic Kids Content: Top social video platforms knowingly ensnared underage users and messed up their minds. Meta, TikTok and other platforms will be on trial in 2024, as the true nature of the harm inflicted on the world’s children comes into focus. I’ve been writing about this frequently over the last few months, and this trend will accelerate in 2024.
AI Feeds on Itself to Create More Crap: I could write a whole newsletter about the AI trends for the creator economy in 2024 – and maybe I will. But this one stands out. Brian Morrisey calls it “The Tsunami of Crap”, highlighting how misguided media companies create AI generated fake journalists to produce bad content. But it’s worse than that. As LLM developers move away from big media to train their models (see NYT suing OpenAI), and as more bad AI content floods the internet, LLMs will increasingly be trained on content created BY LLMs. Unfortunately, that means the AI models will get worse, not better – both from a quality and a factual perspective.
- Related: The omnipotent LLM will begin to give way to more specialized and smaller models. These will work on our phones, home computers and other devices, and will connect with larger and more expensive LLMs to triage tasks. Ethan Mollick posits that these AI constructs will resemble corporate hierarchies – a few highly paid experts (ChatGPT) and an army of interns (our local models).
- Related: The New York Times sues OpenAI for copyright infringement.
Being Real Gets Real: Sometimes apps that define a trend don’t end up benefiting all that much. It happened with Foursquare and location-based platforms, and has happened to BeReal as well. The trend towards being your real person on social platforms accelerated in 2023 – see the “Get Ready With Me” trend – but shows no sign of slowing down in 2024. For teenagers and young adults, being genuine matters more than polished perfection. And we’ll all follow their lead.
Virtual Influencers Get Real Too: AI generated influencers and vTubers will continue to emerge across the creator landscape in 2024. FT believes that they’ll siphon business away from real creators, which will happen – but will likely be blown out of proportion. There’s a real distinction between puppets – where everything is written and controlled by human puppeteers (think Lil Miquela) and fully video/voiced virtual creators. And the Vtuber category presents a third important trend here, as lifelike animated avatars go mainstream. Keep an eye on Kwebblekop, the fallout from Forever Voices’ implosion, Caryn Marjorie’s Caryn AI 2.0, and the companies behind the top 20 vTubers.
- Related: Expect the vTuber Awards to be bigger, better and more mainstream next fall.
Echo Bubbles and The End of Trends: We’ve already seen the decline of broadly ubiquitous creators. These days even our best friends are watching, reading, and engaging with creators we don’t know. Brendan Gahan called them “Echo Bubbles”, exploring “a move from collective to individualized digital realities” that leads to “highly individualized and isolated experiences”. Instagram’s SVP of PR in Korea agreed, noting that “Users’ interests have diversified to the extent… that each user consumes content according to their personal interests”. Meta Korea’s conclusion: “the trend is that there is no trend.” As goes Korea, so goes the rest of the world in 2024.
Other Notable Trend Stories:
- Dan Frommer’s latest trend report predicts the rise of TikTok Shop, why the Roaring 20s are finally here, and how Ozempic will change the food and wellness landscape (hint, maybe you don’t want to launch your own cookie brand).
- Everyone will be talking about Apple’s Vision Pro – at least for a while. Om Malik explores how Apple’s new device will change photography.
- Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth explores how AI and the metaverse will intersect in 2024.
- Bill Gates with an optimistic look at the road ahead in 2024.
- Investor Tanay Jaipuria shares 5 takes on AI and venture in 2024.
- TikTok rolls out a portrait/landscape app for tablets.
- Substack has a Nazi problem. And it’s digging an even deeper hole. Writers are fleeing.
- Crypto embraces frequent-flyer points – Li Jin shares lessons and secrets based on her experience at Shopkick.
- Shameless self-promotion: Loved catching up with Dean Takahashi at Web Summit. Check out his piece recapping our conversation.
- Merch company Revolt accused of stealing from creators and more.
- Roblox CEO wraps up 2023 with insight on how they’re leaning into creators and AI.
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