A group of digital creators has started an effort to push tech companies to increase creators’ compensation and take action on other issues, including unexplained removals of creators’ accounts from apps. The not-for-profit initiative, dubbed “Creator Project 1.0” is being spearheaded by Ezra Cooperstein, a president at Night—the talent management company representing the YouTuber known as MrBeast and other high-profile creators.

The project kicked off last month with a Zoom attended by 150 people. Ahead of the meeting, the group conducted an onboarding survey with more than 100 people, about 40% of whom were full-time or part-time creators. The key areas survey respondents cared most about included increasing the percentage of revenue platforms share with creators and building a safety net for creators, including health insurance and retirement accounts.

“As the creator economy has grown, a handful of companies have amassed significant leverage and power. Meanwhile, creators—as individuals, small companies, and highly fragmented groups—lack collective power against these platforms,” said an email to participants from Cooperstein recapping the initial meeting.

Many creators in general feel snubbed at the treatment towards them by most social networks. Over the past few years, creators have complained that platforms such as TikTok don’t pay them a big enough percentage of the advertising revenue that accompanies their content. They’ve also been disappointed at what they consider poor payouts from creator funds (see our previous blogs for numerical details), the pools of money established by TikTok, YouTube and other social apps to pay creators directly for content. And they have complained about the harm it does to their livelihoods when Facebook or YouTube suspend their accounts, often without clear explanation, they say.

This ‘Creator Project’ isn’t the first attempt to organise creator interest.  In 2016, YouTube creator Hank Green launched the Internet Creators Guild, an organization seeking to educate creators and protect their interests, but it shut down three years later after the board said it couldn’t get support from enough creators.

In 2021, the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, better known as SAG-AFTRA, started allowing creators paid to advertise products and services to join the top Hollywood union. In exchange, they can get union benefits such as access to a health plan. That union is still active but “is way behind” when it comes to creators’ needs, according to one of the responses from the survey. 

Yet these more recent creator-organising efforts come at a period of disruption for the creator economy: Funding for startups has slowed and influential apps including Meta Platforms’ Facebook have cut creator-focused features such as newsletter publishing. At the same time, apps such as Snapchat and Twitter have introduced new products to attract creators and their fans.

Since the April meeting, Creator Project 1.0 set up a Discord server, a group chat that has about 300 people in it so far, to communicate and share updates. It has also set up a smaller steering committee, which will help determine initial areas of focus, according to a person with direct knowledge.

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