Research Reveals a Creator Economy in Transition + Pew TikTok Survey Finds Broad Support for Ban

This Week: A comprehensive analysis of the creator economy by global VC firm Antler shows an industry in transition, a new Pew reports finds that only 22% of Americans oppose a TikTok ban, while 40% aged 18-29 didn’t know TikTok was owned by a Chinese company. Also, Substack’s head-scratching investment round, Wired’s takedown of live-streamed shopping, and the rise of video podcasts. It’s the first week of April and here’s you need to know.

Fascinating Look at the Creator Economy in 2023: One of the top global early-stage VC firms just updated their Creator Economy forecast, and it’s a must read. With a mix of quantitative data and directional interviews, Antler concludes that “we see the industry moving toward consolidation rather than rapid growth—for now.” But “It is not failing—it is evolving and changing direction.” The report makes 6 salient predictions about platform trends and predicts creators will focus on building closer relationships with fans, diversify revenue streams, launch their own branded product lines and use Generative AI to go global. Author Ollie Forsyth and I chatted on stage at Creator World in Singapore last November, and he continues to deliver salient insights for all of us. Also I’m honored to be one of Antler’s 50 creators to watch this year.

Only 22% of Americans Oppose a TikTok Ban: That’s what Pew’s latest research – released Friday – shows. More than half are in favor, and more than a quarter aren’t sure. Other interesting nuggets – over 40% of Americans 18-29 didn’t know TikTok was owned by a Chinese company, while 88% across all ages don’t trust Chinese social companies. However, 75% also had misgivings about American social platforms too. How do teens and tweens feel? Unknown, as they weren’t included in the study.

For more on this story, check out Colin and Samir’s take on the potential TikTok ban, while the Today Show leans into creator ramifications. Marketers are also wary – and some are pulling back. Plus, it’s more than just TikTok – three other Chinese apps are among the top 10 in the US too.

Beware Social Platforms Begging for Money: Substack is only the most recent company to ask its users to pay to play. But instead of verified check marks, Substack re-opened its 2021 investment round, specifically for newsletter authors. More than 4,700 newsletter writers committed to invest over $5M for the not-yet profitable venture. Brian Morrissey put it best – and put it in context – when he wrote, “this is Willie Sutton skipping the bank to head to the library.” I appreciate the aligning of incentives here, but it should have been at either a substantial discount, or an outright grant based on standard metrics and vesting timelines.

Live-streamed Shopping is a Dud in the West: That’s what Wired just concluded. “I haven’t seen one success case,” says an expert in the story. She might not be looking hard enough. Last week at Shoptalk, Max Benator and Orca showed off a pop-up live shopping experience with TikTok that mirrored a similar effort at SXSW. I’ve seen his rodeo and it’s impressive. There’s a difference, though, between China and the US. In the US we want to be entertained, while in China they are OK with being sold to. Smart marketers are also using live shopping as part of broader awareness and conversion campaigns – and seeing $2 CPMs and $.10 cost per click from those live streams. The truth is out there if you only look for it.

The Rise of Video Podcasts: Looking for a long-form way to engage audiences and drive revenue? Perhaps a video podcast is the right approach. Both YouTube and Spotify are investing to build video-based conversational formats into their platforms. Spotify announced a new white-glove service with select Creative Juice creators, while YouTube expands via a new lockup with Slate. Video podcasting is nothing new, it started in 2003 and was popular on iTunes before YouTube was a thing. But up until five years ago it was relatively dormant. Not anymore. Riverside has a good overview of video podcasting – and now might be the time for more video creators and brands to dive in.

AI Is Bad, Mkay: In an open letter to, well, everyone, a who’s who of the AI industry called for a six month pause in ChatGPT4’s development. Somewhat disingenuous, as the signers included researchers at Google, the CEO of Stability AI, a famous entrepreneur building a ChatGPT competitor and many more. Ben Parr has a wonderful analysis revealing the absurdity of the letter that you should read. I think the Large Language Models of today are a dead-end, more mirror than true intelligence. They do, however, have great benefits to creators specifically and productivity in general. But artificial general intelligence will be here at some point, and now’s the time to build guardrails and ethics into AI research. For context, read Bill Gates’ long essay on where we are now, where we’re going and how we get there. Italy decided to move quickly – banning ChatGPT altogether.




Tip of the Week: Subscribe to Phil Ranta’s new newsletter – this week he shares an awesome tip to help you grow your personal or brand social media footprint.

What I’m Watching: Fun and informative debate between Kevin Herrera and Justin Moore on whether creators need managers.

Where’s Jim: I’m hosting Creator Squared at The Nab Show April 16th and 17th (Vegas baby) and then speaking at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia Italy on April 22nd. Then hanging out first weekend at Jazzfest NOLA! Hope to see you at one of these awesome events.

Thanks for reading and see you around the internet. Send me a note with your feedback, or post in the comments! Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here!

If you’re interested in working together as a sponsor to reach the leaders in the creator economy, check out Inside the Creator’s sponsorship packages and/or email me at

And don’t forget to listen to The Creator Feed – the weekly podcast Renee Teeley and I produce – get it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Stitcher!

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