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Snapchat, led by CEO Evan Spiegel, describes itself as a “camera company,” with lenses, augmented reality features and even physical “Spectacles” that blur the line between the digital world and the physical world.
But it is simultaneously a creator company, one of only a handful of digital platforms to fully embrace the “creator economy,” letting users use its platform to create original content and be paid for it.
“What we have seen on other platforms, and in the creator economy more broadly, was that financial rewards were only going to a very small number of creators who had very large followings,“ Ben Schwerin, Snap’s senior vp of content and partnerships, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We wanted to flip that and say, hey, lets democratize this … we wanted anybody, whether they were famous or not already, that made a great video to get compensated.”
In its third Snap Partner Summit Thursday, the company will announce that it has paid out more than $130 million to 5,400 creators since launching Spotlight in November, including over 250 people who have been paid more than $100,000.
It’s all part of what Schwerin calls a “flywheel for creators.” “You can be discovered on Spotlight, you can build a loyal audience on Stories, and Shows is a way to really showcase your talent and personality in a premium content format.”
Now, the company wants to take those efforts a step further, rolling out new ways for creators to create content, and to get compensated for their work.
On the creation side of things, Snap on Thursday unveiled Story Studio, a new app with editing tools to help creators create content for mobile, on a mobile device. Separately, the company is rolling out new software to make it easier for creators that edit their videos on desktop computers to upload to Snapchat. Story Studio will also include a trending section, letting creators see topics, Lenses, sounds and other things trending on the platform to give them ideas.
Perhaps more significantly, the company also unveiled two new ways for creators to get paid, supplementing payments from Spotlight.
The first is Gifting, which lets subscribers send gifts to “Snap Stars.” This form of direct payment has grown in popularity, with a number of similar options on other platforms (think “Super Chats” or ”Super Stickers” on YouTube, or “Donations” on Twitch).
The second is the Creator Marketplace, which the company first teased at its IAB Newfront presentation earlier this month.
“Brands want creators to help them make content, whether that is video content or AR content, and this is a way where creators can build their own relationship with brands outside of Snapchat,” Schwerin says. “What you have seen in the evolution of the creator economy is that individuals have really become their own media companies… [Creator Marketplace] is really in line with that philosophy.”
The tools and options are part of a new arms race, with platforms trying to entice both creators and viewers to their apps. To drive viewership, it is about delivering the most engaging, interesting and relevant content. And for creators, it is about providing the tools, scale and monetization capabilities to make a living.
“It is along the lines of the philosophy we have always had, which is that artists should be compensated for their work,” Schwerin says.
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