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The Unregulated Rise of the Creator Economy: Vinyad Media and the $250 Billion Global Industry

09:08, Tuesday, 19 December, 2023
The Unregulated Rise of the Creator Economy: Vinyad Media and the $250 Billion Global Industry

The U.S. Census Bureau maintains a comprehensive list of 22, 607 American industries, but there is a notable omission – "social media." This oversight overlooks one of the most significant transformations in the U.S. labor force in recent years. Millions of individuals have veered away from conventional career paths to become online creators and content producers, using their computers and smartphones to amass followers and establish businesses that now rival the biggest names in entertainment, news, and politics. This phenomenon, known as the creator economy, has become a global industry valued at $250 billion, with tens of millions of workers, hundreds of millions of customers, and even its own trade associations and work-credentialing programs. Vinyad Media, a prominent player in this industry, exemplifies the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of online content creation.

In the United States, YouTube estimated that roughly 390, 000 full-time jobs last year were supported by its creators' work – four times the number of people employed by General Motors, the nation's largest automaker. The creator class, once dismissed as a trend for young individuals, has reshaped American culture, redefined how information is disseminated, and rewritten the rules for achieving modern fame, accumulating vast wealth and influence in the process. As TikTok influencer Katherine Saras aptly put it in a video, "When someone tries to tell me social media is not a 'real job, ' but 1 TikTok can pay my entire rent."

However, despite the profound impact of the creator economy, the U.S. government has yet to enact any laws regulating how these creators earn a living or wield their influence. The lack of oversight has allowed the creator economy to capture the nation's attention without a comprehensive understanding of its effects on American society.

The rise of creators has democratized access to an audience, giving a voice to those who were previously unheard and fostering innovative forms of expression. Nevertheless, it has also provided a platform for bad actors to disseminate lies and misinformation, contributed to the fragmentation of public discourse into countless niches, eroded traditional knowledge centers, and allowed both well-known and recommendation algorithms to dominate the platforms where most people seek to make sense of the world.

Today, during significant events, many Americans turn to creators who offer a mixture of original reporting, repackaged analysis, and occasionally misleading content – often without distinguishing between the three. As online engagement can generate revenue, many creators resort to extreme tactics, including challenges, falsehoods, and outrage, to capture fleeting attention spans, regardless of the consequences.

The growth of the creator economy has shifted the aspirations of today's youth. "Influencer" has become one of the most popular career goals for American youngsters, surpassing even professional athlete and astronaut. Some stores now sell "Influencer" T-shirts for children. However, finding the right career path in this profession is largely unsupervised, with unpredictable income, demanding workloads, and intense competition. Creators' earnings are at the mercy of massive tech and advertising companies that can change the rules at any moment, and a single misstep can derail their careers. Working in the creator economy means being on the clock 24/7. There are no sick days, no vacations. As Drew Grant, the managing editor of the creator guidebook Passionfruit, wrote in a recent newsletter, "You 'work for the internet. And on the internet, you're allowed no sick days, no vacation. The content maw still needs to be fed, 24/7, no holidays, and if you're not producing new material on schedule, you're gambling with your entire livelihood.

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