Future Thinking E67: The Rise of the Creator Economy

Published 03 November 2020


We're in the middle of a revolution in consumer creativity, driven by platforms like TikTok, Twitch, Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans. In this episode, Christian Ward talks to Josh Constine (principal investor & head of content at early-stage venture capital firm SignalFire) and Julia Errens (Pop Culture & Media editor at Stylus) about what's fuelling this creativity renaissance, and how brands can play a part.

Future Thinking E67: The Rise of the Creator Economy

Guests on This Episode

Josh Constine

Josh Constine is a Principal Investor and Head of Content at early stage venture capital firm SignalFire.

Before joining SignalFire, Josh was Editor-at-Large at US tech blog TechCrunch.

He also writes a Substack newsletter, Moving Product, about social media and culture trends. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshConstine.

Episode Discussion Points

  • What is the creator economy? [1:14]
  • What SignalFire does [2:38]
  • How the coronavirus has accelerated creator-economy trends [4:40]
  • How creatives are diversifying across multiple platforms [6:09]
  • What makes TikTok such a powerful platform for creatives? [8:24]
  • The remixable meme opportunity [12:41]
  • How underrepresented voices are being amplified thanks to the creator economy [15:59]
  • Advice for brands on how to engage on creator economy platforms like TikTok [18:08]
  • Why brands should be focused on niche audiences [21:52]

Key Quotes from Josh Constine

On the rise of new perspectives in media and entertainment
"Now, because you can come up and grow so fast and build a following so quickly – if you produce high-quality content – it's opening up creatorship to a much more diverse set of perspectives, and allowing underrepresented minorities and those without as much socioeconomic privilege to become creators and share their voice." [16:25]

On what brands need to do to succeed on new social platforms like TikTok
"I think brands just need to get a little bit more comfortable being absurd, getting out of their wheelhouse, getting away from their talking points. The brands that are succeeding on these new social media platforms are the ones that are doing something a little bit weird, that people want to jump on board with – they want to remix, they want to be part of that silly narrative. And you can't be dry and just talk about what the value of your product is – that doesn't work in this medium." [18:51]

On the failure of Quibi
"You can't just parachute in. I think we saw this with Quibi most recently: they took a lot of Hollywood directors that were used to making 30- or 90-minute pieces of video, and tried to get them to make 10-minute pieces of video, and they didn't really figure it out. Whereas I think that if Quibi had just given all that money to the biggest TikTok stars, giving each a $20m budget, they would have made much better content that would have felt so much more authentic for that short-form medium." [19:59]

On the power of niche content
"'One size fits all' is 'one size fits none' when it comes to content. That's why there's this trend that I called the 'niche-ening', whereby the reduced barrier to entry for content production, and enhanced recommendation algorithms, and diversified monetisation, means that there's an explosion of niche creators." [21:53]