This Christmas marks the end of an era for creator monetization on TikTok, first launched in 2020. According to creator-industry expert Samir Chaudry, this change may open up new doors for how creators can make money on the app.  

When it was first announced in 2020, the fund was a $1 billion pool the company said it would pay out to encourage users to create more content. While TikTok has been instrumental in popularizing smaller voices and creating some of the well-known digital culture brands of the moment, many creators expressed frustration with the small payout. 

Payments were determined by a combination of views and engagement, but became smaller as more users joined the creator fund. In a 2022 YouTube video, popular vlogger Hank Green said he made 2.5 cents for every 1,000 views on TikTok with the Creator fund, even with 8 million followers.

With the Creator Fund shutting down, TikTok is turning its focus to the Creativity program to take its place. The Creativity program is currently undergoing beta testing but is a stronger attempt by the app to share larger payments to high-performing users. Like the creator fund, users must be 18 years old, have over 10,000 followers and 100,000 views in the last 30 days. 

Interestingly, the new Creativity program will only reward videos longer than 1 minute, excluding shorter clips. According to TikTok, the Creativity Program gives creators the potential to earn “up to 20 times the amount previously offered by the Creator Fund.”

“Video length does equate to deeper connection and having a deeper connection also offers more monetization opportunities,” Chaudry, one half of Colin and Samir, told Rolling Stone. “The core of what we do in the creator economy is build depth with an audience. And depth does suggest that people are willing to sit for long periods of time with you.”

“If you remove some of the top creators from TikTok, [the app] is still enjoyable to watch, and I think the next chapter has to be building brands. People need to seek you out. And so I think the future of the creator economy is creators understanding that they need to build depth with their audience, not just viewership. And I think platforms have to support the time it takes to do that, and give [creators] a healthy foundation and pay to build on top of.”

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