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TikTok’s ‘Creativity Program’ will repeat its creator economy mistakes

The news: TikTok’s new creator fund, called the “Creativity Program,” is entering beta. TikTok hopes its revamped fund will alleviate the issues with opaque, low, and inconsistent payouts that plagued its predecessor.

How it works: TikTok says the Creativity Program was designed with creator feedback in mind and promises to help “unlock new opportunities,” but specific details on payouts are sparse.

  • Eligible creators must be over 18 years old, meet minimum viewership requirements, and have accounts in good standing. But crucially, content will only be eligible if it is longer than one minute.
  • Creators in the program will have access to a new dashboard where they can view video eligibility, estimated revenues, and other analytics in what seems to be an attempt to provide transparency.
  • At the end of its announcement, TikTok boasted other recent efforts to increase creator revenues like TikTok Pulse and its LIVE subscriptions. The app is also considering allowing creators to paywall content.

But will it work? Despite the fact that TikTok says it’s listening to feedback, its announcement sorely lacks information on how exactly payouts will work, instead saying that it’s using “new formulas.”

  • But opaque platitudes like that are exactly the problem. Creators want to know how much they can expect to earn, and other platforms are building goodwill by providing specifics.
  • YouTube Shorts’ new revenue sharing program terms are clear: YouTube will keep 55% of ad revenue on eligible videos, and creators get to keep the other 45%. That doesn’t mean that creators will be raking in cash, but at least they know exactly how much to expect from a given piece of content.

Our take: It’s clear that TikTok wants to repair its relationship with content creators, but the Creativity Program continues the platform’s streak of skirting awkwardly around specifics and runs the risk of repeating past mistakes. We expect revenue-sharing programs like YouTube’s to become a norm for platforms by the end of the year.

  • Still, TikTok is a powerful platform with strong user growth and discoverability (though even that’s come into question) that creators can’t afford to pass up despite payment issues. However, YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels are starting to close the gap.