The Blockbuster Era Fades Away

This Week: thanks everyone who called out my typos last week. I was a bit bleary eyed after four days of VidCon. BUT it does prove that I don’t use AI to write ICE (except the art). Perhaps the next typos will be on purpose. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

The End of Peak Creator? Interesting Glamour piece about why “Influencers Aren’t Getting Famous Like They Used To”. Three reasons surface in the story: TikTok created a vast sea of small niches, advertisers are more focused on micro-celebs that convert, and mainstream media isn’t interested. What’s really going on? Last week’s VidCon and YouTube’s latest trend report offers up clues, as did the recent Open Sauce geekfest.

YouTube found that nearly half of GenZ belong to a fandom that none of their friend-group shares, while 80% claim to be big or superfans of “something”. At VidCon, the biggest creators again this year included pop-niche creators unspooling stories via 13 and 18 year old game platforms (Minecraft and Roblox). And earlier in June, Open Sauce showcased the collective power of the maker and STEM niche to drive big audiences.

It’s what happens when diffusion of interest meets peak fandom: niche creators build powerful connections to (relatively) smaller audiences. It also feels like the end of mass media’s blockbuster era, as outlined in Anita Ebersle’s 2013 book. And as old-school mainstream media transmogrifies into YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and live sports (follow @evan shapiro for more on that), there’s less gogo juice around to glow-up breakout creators.

Perhaps We Need a “Made with Electricity” Tag: Instagram started tagging images with “Made With AI” a few weeks ago. Photographers quickly rebelled, claiming their human-created photos were being incorrectly flagged. Whoops, said Meta, and changed the tag name to “AI Info” last week. But this defanged tag shows up on everything from completely generated AI images to those tweaked via an AI-enhanced editor. It’s so broad as to be fundamentally useless, now that AI has infiltrated virtually every image and video editor – along with our phone cameras and more. AI will soon be as ubiquitous – and invisible – as electricity. Created by AI is no longer a binary choice. Perhaps by next year almost every single image will require Meta’s mealymouthed “AI Info” tag. Let’s just change “Made With AI” to “Made with Electricity” and be done with it.

Young Kids Still Obsessed with YouTube and TikTok: Park’s summer 2024 kids/Gen Alpha and media study is out, and it continues to show a worrying trend of 2-12 year olds obsessed with YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and other digital platforms. US 2-12 year olds watch 94 minutes of TikTok and almost two hours of YouTube (long and short) each day. YouTube and Roblox dominate even the 2–5-year-old set, with nearly 80% watching YouTube regularly and over half playing games on phones or tablets. YouTube dominates video, but TikTok is number 2. Download the full study here.

The Death of Email Newsletters on LinkedIn: Ever since LinkedIn launched their newsletter feature, subscribers have received an entire newsletter into their inbox. But that’s all changing. Instead, subscribers just get the top paragraph or two in the email, with a link to “Keep reading on LinkedIn”. I am not a fan – find out why here. But it pushed me into something I’ve been considering – multicasting onto a real email newsletter platform. So, if you like this newsletter, please subscribe to my new Beehiiv version, where I’ll have additional stuff each week – just for my subscribers there – and a guarantee that you’ll get the whole thing in one piece in your email inbox. Or keep reading here, all I care about is that you read (and thanks for doing so!)!

SPONSOR: Looking To Excel in The Creator Economy? This Chief Creative Officer’s Biggest Tip May Shock You.

Immerse yourself in culture. “Read quality content every day, go to more museums, attend more concerts, get lost while walking through a city, and leave your phone at home—because learning and pure inspiration come from anywhere and everywhere outside our screen-nurtured existence. If we want to have humanly relevant stories and content, we need to nurture from where the human relevance lives,” said Christoph Becker, Chief Creative Officer, Whalar Group. Learn more here.








  • Instagram passes TikTok in the US for video consumption, YouTube still on top globally – according to new research from Omdia ($).
  • Interesting research from Twicsy on the earning and engagement disparity between AI and real-world creators. The flesh-and-blood variant leads in all categories – except promoting “adult” content. Note that Twicsy operates on the margins of the creator economy, selling likes, subscribers, comments and views across Instagram, TikTok and Threads – but their methodology seems sound.

100% written by me – no human or AI ghostwriters were involved in the production (except for the cover art!).

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