by Spenser Hyun, Founder & CEO
While tech platforms continue to race each other to the bottom to see who can pay creators the least, the global middle class of artists continues to dwindle.
It seems platforms have created a paradox; in the name of democratizing access to content, they have devalued the work of their users so much that smaller creators have no choice but to compete with free, while the top few performers earn massive payouts for their content. In her groundbreaking article on the inequality in the creator economy, Li Jin outlines the growing concentration of wealth in the top 1% of creators in the last few years. Given pennies for their work, the bottom 99% of artists are left chasing the impossible goal of virality, or sheer luck, while being forced to put in more hours and work harder than ever before just to get by.
As a lifelong musician myself, I don’t think platforms today truly understand how toxic that can feel.
This is because somewhere along the way, platforms began to lose sight of what their users actually needed. They began to prioritize their top creators, ignoring the concerns of the larger community. They began to test the limit of how many ads they could run before they saw an increase in churn, locked users into exclusivity deals to ensure they couldn’t grow on any platform but their own, and charged people just to reach a wider audience with their content. Building a fan base became performative, like a never-ending hamster wheel that spit out money in return for shout-outs and brand partnerships. As platforms grew, creators suffered, along with their mental health. And more often than not, smaller creators suffered the most, as they were forced to make sacrifices just to survive amongst the noise.
But let’s remember who’s at the top of the IP chain here. Without creators, a platform is nothing. While the long tail of artists see none of the immense profit created through data collection on consumer habits, stock sales, co-branding, advertising, or investments, they provide all of the labor that creates that wealth. I truly believe that as long as creators are left out of the conversation, platforms trying to “compete with free” will drive themselves into the ground.
This is because creators are smart — where they see obstacles, they find solutions. They’ll make their voices heard, lift up their communities and stand up to injustice. When pushed into a corner, they’ll simply find a better way out. Change is coming, whether platforms like it or not. The global pandemic only accelerated innovation, as artists found more and more ways to leverage their brand recognition and connect directly with their fans online. Musicians turned to livestreaming in record numbers to share their talents, wishing to maintain the level of personal connection only live interaction can bring. For the first time in a while, demand for solutions started to outpace technology, and whole industries were left playing catch-up.
“We decided it was time to invest in a platform we would want to use ourselves.”
This is where our journey began: at LiveSpace, it was clear to us how current platforms, especially livestreaming platforms, were falling short. We decided it was time to invest in a platform we would want to use ourselves — one that truly worked for the 50 million up-and-coming musicians, artists, and creators worldwide. We knew the next generation of creators wouldn’t settle for anything less than a platform that allowed them to create sustainably, and as creators, we didn’t want to settle for it either. Because let’s face it: there’s absolutely no reason a platform should take 50% of your income.
So we set out to redesign the modern livestreaming platform. We engineered everything from the ground up to work for creators, not against them, prototyping and designing for nearly a whole year. We listened to the community, discovering more pain points we never knew existed. We found that creators consistently cared about 6 key things:
1. Content Discovery
Getting from 0 to 100 followers is the hardest part. A robust recommendation and tagging system, along with a duality of static and live platform content, can help break down the barrier to entry.
2. Ease of Use
A user interface has to work at the speed of thought. Downloading separate software like OBS shouldn’t be necessary unless you need more control.
If creators are going to build their brand on top of yours, it has to feel right aesthetically. This also means staying relatively transparent as a brand, allowing creators to shine.
4. Data & Analytics
Access to transparent data early on in building a community can be incredibly pivotal.
5. Accessible, Diversified Monetization
Not every creator wants to lock themselves into a cycle of giving out monthly perks for fan subscriptions, let alone wait until their balance hits $100 to access their paycheck. They need accessible, diverse revenue options.
Creators thrive when they can build their own micro-community within a larger umbrella community. This helps with discovery, while still allowing niche content to flourish.
These principles became our north star – we knew if we could successfully solve these problems in an all-in-one platform, it could change everything for creators. We leveraged our research along with new developments in media technology that could dramatically reduce our costs, in order to create a new platform built for discovery, community building, and monetization, all while offering a revolutionary 85% revenue split. In the end, we’re proud to say we’ve built something we know creators will love. And we’ll continue to evolve as we embark on this journey of building the best platform possible for our creators, transparently. This is our commitment to you.
We can’t wait to shape the future of livestreaming with you. See you on LiveSpace.
— Spenser Hyun, Founder & CEO