Everyone Creates: New Empirical Data Shows Just How Much The Internet Has Enabled A New Creative Economy

from the it's-not-tech-v.-hollywood dept

Visit EveryoneCreates.org to read stories of creation empowered by the internet, and share your own! »

Just last week we announced our new site EveryoneCreates.org, in which we showcase stories of people who rely on the open internet and various internet platforms to create artwork of all kinds — from music to books to movies to photographs and more. It appears that we’re not the only ones to be thinking about this. The Re:Create coalition has just now released some fantastic economic research about the large and growing population of people who use internet platforms to create and to make money from their creations. It fits right in with the point that we made, that contrary to the RIAA, MPAA and its front groups like “Creative Future,” the internet is not harming creators, it’s enabling them by the millions (and allowing them to make much more money as well).

Indeed, the report almost certainly significantly undercounts the number of content creators making money on the internet these days, as it only explores nine platforms: Amazon Publishing, eBay, Etsy, Instagram, Shapeways, Tumblr, Twitch, WordPress and YouTube. Those are all great, and probably cover a decent subset of creators and how they make money — but it leaves off tons of others, including Kickstarter, Patreon, IndieGogo, Wattpad, Bandcamp, Apple, Spotify and many other platforms that have increasingly become central to the way in which creators make their money. Still, even with this smaller subset of creative platforms, the study is impressive.

14.8 million people used those platforms to earn approximately $5.9 billion in 2016.

Let’s repeat that. The internet — which some legacy entertainment types keep insisting are “killing” content creators and making it “impossible” to make money — enabled nearly 15 million people to earn nearly $6 billion in 2016. And, again, that doesn’t even include things like Kickstarter or Patreon (in 2016 alone, Kickstarter had $580 million in pledges…). In short, just as we’ve been saying for years, while those who rely on the old legacy gatekeeper system of waiting until you’re “discovered” by a label/studio/publisher and then hoping they’ll do all the work to make you rich and famous, maybe that’s a bit more difficult these days. But, for actual creators, today is an astounding, unprecedented period of opportunity.

This does not mean that everyone discussed here is making a full-time living. Indeed, the report notes clearly that many people are using these platforms to supplement their revenue. But they’re still creating and they’re still making money off of their creations — something that would have been nearly impossible not too long ago. And, just as the report likely undercounts the size of this economy due to missing some key platforms, it also misses additional revenue streams even related to the platforms it did count:

It is impossible to determine an average income for members of the new creative economy, because earnings vary so widely for each platform. As previously stated, this analysis includes only a single source of income for each of the nine platforms. For instance, based on the current data, we include a YouTube star?s earnings from YouTube but not revenues as influencers or advertisements on other social media platforms.

Also interesting is how the report found that creators are spread all over the US. While California, New York and Texas have the most creators, even those with the “smallest” numbers of creators (Wyoming and the Dakotas) still had tens of thousands of people using these platforms to make money. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, the study excluded big time stars like Kim Kardashian using platforms like Instagram to make money, focusing instead on truly independent creators.

This is especially important, as it’s coming at a time when the RIAA, MPAA and their friends continue their nonsensical claims that these very same internet platforms are somehow “harming” content creators, and that laws need to change to make it harder for everyday people to use these platforms to express their artwork and to make money off of it. It’s almost as if those legacy gatekeepers don’t like the competition or the fact that people are realizing they don’t need to work with a gatekeeper to create and to make money these days.

So, once again, it’s time to dump the ridiculous myth of “tech v. content.” That’s not true at all. As this report shows, these tech platforms have enabled many millions of people to earn billions of dollars that’s only possible because they’re open platforms that get past the old gatekeeper system.

Share your story at EveryoneCreates.org to let policymakers know how important an open internet and fair use is to your own creativity.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: amazon, automattic, etsy, indiegogo, instagram, kickstarter, patreon, shapeways, tumblr, twitch, wordpress, youtube

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Comments on “Everyone Creates: New Empirical Data Shows Just How Much The Internet Has Enabled A New Creative Economy”

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Anonymous Coward says:

"This does not mean that everyone discussed here is making a full-time living." -- Exactly. Theft is reducing the high-paying industry careers in favor of idiots who laugh at suicides and tase rats.

I bet that the only actual "empiric" data is the overall figures. Sure, $5.6 billion looks good unless compared to — what, in the "dinosaur" industries?

On average, it’s 5,900,000,000 / 14,800,000 = $398.65.

Whee! — I bet if could know an hourly rate, it’d be adequate for the 99% which is sheer dreck, and below minimum wage for anything an adult would watch. — Cat videos and "Russia car crash" videos excluded from "dreck", I guess. — Just don’t assert that I watch either.

"fantastic economic research" — You do know that "fantastic" is fantasy; "economic" is sheer opinion, and "research" that comes to exactly the conclusion that YOU want is highly suspect.

"get past the old gatekeeper system" — Whee! Here we leap straight into maws of the NEW, Google, Amazon, Youtube, Itunes, Spotify, and Facebook! Whee! The new "tech" billionaires so well share-the-wealth by rewarding creators — providing you obey their rules, first of which is to prove gain them money before they start paying out; the New Gatekeepers take ZERO risk other than cost of bandwidth.

At least have the self-awareness to quit begging we go to EveryoneCreates.org.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "This does not mean that everyone discussed here is making a full-time living." -- Exactly. Theft is reducing the high-paying industry careers in favor of idiots who laugh at suicides and tase rats.

Before the Internet, a lot of those creators would create works, but have no option for publishing them and making even a little pocket money. Indeed, many published book authors had to keep the day job, as did many musicians, artists and actors.

Making a living from creative output has always been difficult, with many creators having other sources of income.

Gorshkov (profile) says:

It's not all about money

I’m a bit surprised there’s been no mention of nexusmods.com. They host mods for over 500 different games, and have literally millions of mods on site. The only things these mods have in common? They’ve been created by people for the love of the game, and shared so others can enjoy them as well.

Some of the mod authors have links to patreon, etc – must do not. It’s creativity for creativify’s sake.

I can’t think of a better example of people creating things where money is not even a factor.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Your connection is not secure" -- "The owner of everyonecreates.org has configured their website improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Tor Browser has not connected to this website."

“everyonecreates.org uses an invalid security certificate. The certificate is not trusted because the issuer certificate is unknown. The server might not be sending the appropriate intermediate certificates. An additional root certificate may need to be imported.”

Whatta ya tryna pull there? And/or: Why doncha fix that?

OKAY, I put in an “exception” for temporary. Already the wrong kind of “exceptional” site…

Now… Sheesh. You’ve apparently just recycled a few remarks of obscure authors from ten years ago, pretty sure I recognize those. Nothing new except some other blather; most recent date appears to be November…

Having skimmed apparently all, I can now say happily: Good luck with the new site, Masnick!

Dave Cortright (profile) says:

Welcome to the era of disintermediation

Guess those gatekeepers better get busy competing, or get busy dying (to paraphrase a quote from Shawshank Redemption).

Ha ha! who am I kidding?! They will try to buy legislation to impede the competition, which might work in isolated cases in the short term, and there there will be a catastrophic failure of those companies as they scramble to remake themselves into some business—ANY business—that has even a modicum of value.

Anonymous Coward says:

So, all those creators made an average of $51.39 per year.

Sounds about right. Hurray.

Meanwhile, YouTube just decided to follow Facebook’s lead and age-out of their business, by demonetizing any new creators for a year+ of no-money videomaking. That should effectively lock in their userbase at current users, and eventually, as those users age-out of life, so will YouTube. Bye, YouTube, and thanks for all those $51.39 annual income checks you used to send out!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So, all those creators made an average of $51.39 per year.

As the article mentioned, various sources of Income, such as Patreon, Kickstarter etc. were not included in the survey, Those sources provide some of the Income for YouTubers, as does sponsorship, and so the YouTube payouts do not necessarily represent actual Income.

YouTube will remain dominant while it is the place for people to look for videos, along with it being a useful content distribution system.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Everyone Creates” doesn’t mean everyone creates something worth saving or adding yet more cat pictures or pirated content with a thin veneer of “transformation” in the sense of adding a few pictures as a video to Youtube.

The vast majority of those creation numbers are not original content, never will be original content, and are unworthy of recognition. All you have to do is look through Youtube searching for the official releases from music artists but being flooded by low quality results by people uploading pirated versions with bad audio and video (in comparison).

I happen to favor the Youtube monetization change. The reason being they have been flooded with people trying to push their channel for a quick buck drowning out the good with a very low signal to noise ratio. It’s much like the Bad Old Days of altavista and yahoo where search results were useless because of spam floods for porn and erection pills.

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