According to the latest report by Citi, the creator economy market is estimated to be worth around $60 billion per year, and it’s expected to grow at a rate of approximately 9% until 2024, reaching $75 billion.

However, this is missing the obvious. The impact of AI on the creator economy market is likely to be significant. AI has the potential to revolutionize the way creators produce and distribute their content and the way audiences consume it. Here are some potential impacts:

                Human Content creation: One of the biggest barriers to creativity is ( was) its complexity.  One can easily hum a new tune or have an idea for an illustration, novel, or movie. However, transforming those into a tangible, shareable format has been, up to now, a complex task requiring years of learning and practice. Not anymore. With Generative AI, it is possible to do this within minutes. By dramatically lowering the bar of the complexity of content creation, AI  widely opens the doors to creativity to almost everyone, as long as they have a computer and internet access. This will lead to massively increased competition for creators, making reaching cashable fame even more challenging.

There are 30M+ creators on Instagram, 3M on Twitch, 13M on YouTube, and 2M+ on other social platforms.

               Machine Content creation: AI has the ability to generate content automatically, which could disrupt traditional content creation methods. For example, automated AI-generated content might overwhelm a lot of categories and force humans out of the competition for attention.  Savvy programmers could control automated AI-generated content in various topics and media, creating massive content farms and generating income that would make Disney blush.

             Content curation: AI algorithms are increasingly used to personalize content recommendations, which can help creators reach a wider audience.  But with AI, curation, and creation could be handled by the same machines, generating on-demand content that perfectly matches viewers’ cravings. A Tik Tok on steroids, where creators are now automated machines rather than humans.  This could also lead to a concentration of power in the hands of a few big platforms that control the algorithms and leave human creators out on the bench.

             Monetization: AI can help creators monetize their content more effectively by optimizing ad placement, identifying sponsorship opportunities, and managing digital rights. Here as well this could also lead to a further concentration of wealth in the hands of the most successful creators and platforms.

          Copyright: AI can also help enforce copyright law by identifying and flagging instances of infringement, but it could also create new challenges for copyright law as AI-generated content blurs the lines of originality and ownership. The current state of US copyright law, which refuses to grant copyright protection to computer-generated content, essentially lowers the value of all creations by allowing for the production of cheap, easily replicable, and non-copyrightable content.

The long-term winners remain platforms that facilitate the discovery and distribution of content.  It is ironic that despite having moved from a one-to-many to a many-to-many model of content creation and consumption, we still have a gatekeeper/chokepoint that centralizes all content and viewership. And while the internet seemingly offered promises of diversity and chances for everyone – especially in content creation- it still follows the traditional superstar model, wherein relatively small numbers of people earn enormous amounts of money and dominate the activities they engage in.  Case and point: At YouTube, over 90% of YouTube subscriptions come from less than 5% of the channels.

creators, platforms and right holders
A very uneven landscape

The potential promise of AI is that those centralized platforms become obsolete as systems become more efficient at gathering relevant content from wherever it is located. Thus it will not matter if a video is posted on Youtube or an unknown blog, as the AI will display it if relevant to a viewer’s interest. Of course, this would only displace the chokepoint from a platform to an algorithm building an aggregated display. But it would have the advantage of offering a larger variety of choices.

What is currently included in the creator economy is a large bucket of very various, almost unrelated activities. A podcaster is rarely if never, a photographer or an Onlyfan creator. Most have just one niche, demanding very specific skills. With generative AI, this might change as repurposing is one of its strongest attributes. If you are a substack writer, you can now easily use the same text to generate photos, videos, and even soundtracks, all with one click, and thus extend your distribution options to multiple platforms. Whatever primary mode of expression you currently master is now easily transferable to almost any other medium, with minimum cost and effort.  And while machine-powered competition will increase, individual creators will also benefit from increased reach and visibility. Question is, where will the audience be in this cacophony of content?


Main  Photo by Sebastian Pandelache on Unsplash

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is a highly influential and visionary leader in visual tech, with 20+ years of experience in licensing, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Director of MelcherSystem and has held executive roles at Corbis, Stipple, and more. Melcher received a Digital Media Licensing Association Award and is a board member of Plus Coalition, Clippn, and Anthology, and has been named among the “100 most influential individuals in American photography”

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