As social media platforms hold their trajectory as an evolutionary step in where and how people find and consume entertainment, the growing universe of independent content creators — podcasters, game makers, video artists and more — needs more and better ways to get paid.
Companies like Patreon took an early lead in helping podcasters, musicians and video performers monetize their creations, and the field is expanding. On Wednesday (Sept. 22) creator engagement and monetization platform StreamElements announced its latest fundraise of $100 million led by led by SoftBank Vision Fund with “participation from PayPal Ventures, MoreTech, and existing investors State of Mind Ventures, Pitango First, Menorah, and Mivtach Shamir, among others,” according to a statement.
Add that to the $11.3 million raised in its Series A round earlier this year and the platform looks well-financed for its stated goal “to further accelerate growth and develop new production, engagement, and monetization tools for livestreaming and VODs to benefit the existing community and to bring new talent onto the platform.”
Company CEO and Co-founder Gil Hirsch said, “With this additional funding we are bolstering our staff to strengthen and broaden our ability to enable content creators across multiple platforms to make a living doing what they love.”
Noting “the demand for authentic creator-driven content has grown exponentially,” SoftBank’s Nahoko Hoshino said, “Through a suite of broadcasting and engagement tools, StreamElements is helping creators deliver an enriched experience for audiences while monetizing content from the most popular social video platforms.”
It’s more evidence that the pandemic-era explosion of streaming entertainment options from YouTube to the vast videogaming metaverse are maturing with monetization models that will allow more independent creators pursue their passion while getting paid by their audiences.
Capitalizing on Creativity
Hinting at the size and scope of the growing creator economy, YouTube revealed in August that it has “paid more than $30 billion to more than 2 million video producers on the platform in the past three years through ads, merchandising and other service features,” as PYMNTS reported.
YouTube also splits ad sales with creators based on audience engagement and related metrics.
News of YouTube’s payments to content creators in recent years came about a month after YouTube unveiled its “Super Thanks” digital tip jar feature enabling viewers to gift between $2 and $50 to video channels on the platform whether they are actively livestreaming, or not. YouTube already supports tipping during livestream events.
Twitter introduced its own Tip Jar concept in May, explaining in a blog post, “You’ll know an account’s Tip Jar is enabled if you see a Tip Jar icon next to the Follow button on their profile page. Tap the icon, and you’ll see a list of payment services or platforms that the account has enabled.” Users can link various payments apps including Venmo and Cash App for tipping.
Streaming video and gaming content is experiencing unprecedented demand during the pandemic as lockdowns and work from home arrangements brought about more watching, listening and game playing.
As Patreon Vice President of Finance Carlos Cabrera told PYMNTS in Q2, “Now it’s just easier and easier to get access to financial services as a creator. It’s easier to plug into financial planning tools and easier to track all of your monetization across a bunch of different platforms. All of these tools that allow people to pursue this for a living are starting to come together and creates this positive feedback loop where a lot more people become creators and then the whole ecosystem kind of feeds itself.”
Monetization Models Proliferating
Monetizing the work of content creators is expressing itself in different ways across different types of platforms. For example, in March 2021 Facebook announced several new ways that creators on its platforms can make money from their work with embedded capabilities.
As PYMNTS reported, “Facebook will now let content creators earn money in new ways. Content creators can generate revenue from all types of video, including short-form. Monetization is now open to more creators, as Facebook has updated its in-stream ad eligibility, opening the program to more creators and offering access to in-stream ads for Live and expanding paid online events and fan subscriptions to new countries. In addition, Facebook is making it simpler for content creators to access fan support while boosting consumer adoption through free Stars giveaways for viewers.”
In 2020, the social media titan which also owns Instagram introduced a subscription capability to attract more content creators to the platform, as Facebook slugs it out with Tik Tok and other platforms for more eyeballs, engagement and income from original content posted.
As for Instagram and its universe of influencers and self-styled video celebrities, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri told CNBC earlier this year that “We should be able to help brands find creators that are uniquely aligned with the work they’re trying to do and vice versa.”