Content has always been king, but thanks to the burgeoning creator economy, it now has a business empire of its own—and business is booming! Now a thriving industry unto itself, new research from music licensing platform Epidemic Sound provides insights into the present state of content creation, the hurdles creators encounter, and their expectations for the future.
The firm’s new study, The Future of the Creator Economy Report 2023, based on a survey of 1,500 content creators who are currently monetizing their work, specifically explores trends in earnings, monetization, music, and AI in the creator economy.
As the content creation industry evolves, creators are embracing new monetization strategies and AI tools to enhance their content and stay ahead of the competition. According to the research, most content creators (76.5 percent) have experienced significant income increases over the past year, with 83.5 percent expecting their income to increase over the next 12 months.
Content creation is more lucrative than ever as monetization strategies gain popularity
The past few years have seen a surge in the number of individuals becoming content creators. Yet, despite the industry’s rapid expansion, monetization is still relatively new for creators. According to the report, 42.6 percent of content creators began to earn money from their creations just in the last year, and 79.6 percent within the previous two years.
There are now more ways than ever for creators to monetize their work
Advertising revenue remains creators’ most common income source, with 70.7 percent of respondents earning money from ads. However, other monetization strategies are growing in popularity, including sponsorships (58.5 percent), product sales (52.7 percent), affiliate links (39.3 percent), and fan donations/crowdfunding (37.5 percent). Interestingly, platform-specific monetization platforms ranked as creators’ least common monetization method.
As content creators distribute their work across multiple social media platforms, it is crucial to understand which ones offer the best monetization options. On average, content creators distribute their work on four platforms, with TikTok (30 percent), YouTube (25.8 percent), and Facebook (16.5 percent) ranking as the highest-earning platforms.
Higher earners tend to cite YouTube as their primary channel for generating income from their content creation efforts. However, TikTok proves to be more consistent across creators at various income levels. The report also revealed that content creators spend an average of $1,623 monthly on production costs, which can chip away at their earnings. As a result, 91 percent of respondents plan to reduce production costs in the upcoming year.
“At Epidemic Sound, we are proud to be at the forefront of the creator economy, providing valuable insights and tools that can help content creators maximize their potential earnings and succeed in this rapidly evolving industry,” said Oscar Höglund, CEO of Epidemic Sound, in a news release. “Our report highlights the trends driving this dynamic sector and how content creators adapt to take full advantage of these opportunities. We believe that providing valuable insights can help content creators thrive in this dynamic industry.”
AI has been widely adopted in the creator economy, despite some concerns
AI is becoming an increasingly important part of the content creation process and may offer solutions to creators’ production challenges. According to the survey, nearly all (93 percent) of content creators currently use AI-powered tools or applications in their content creation process, with the most popular being image or video recognition software (64.9 percent), automated transcription tools (57.4 percent), chatbots or virtual assistants (55.6 percent), and personalized recommendation engines (53.9 percent).
Overall, 97 percent of content creators believe AI will help them automate repetitive or time-consuming tasks, and 94 percent believe AI will enable more personalized or customized content experiences for their audience.
However, concerns remain about the authenticity and originality of AI-generated content, with 78 percent reporting concern that AI-powered content may lack authenticity or originality, and 74 percent believing AI will increase competition, making it more difficult to stand out.
Music plays a key role in content performance & monetization
A significant 97.7 percent of content creators view music as essential for creating engaging content. They spend an average of $53.36 per content piece on music selection. However, 64.7 percent admit to compromising on music choices due to budget constraints, and 61.3 percent have experienced content removal, muting, or demonetization due to copyright issues.
When it comes to acquiring music for content production, content creators rely heavily on royalty-free and/or paid music licensing websites/services, followed by social-platform offered music.
The survey was conducted on the Pollfish platform between March 18 and March 25, 2023. A total of 1,500 content creators who are currently monetizing their content were surveyed. The sample was drawn from a range of industries and niches, including but not limited to video creators, podcasters, bloggers, and social media influencers. Respondents were selected through a screening process to ensure that they met the criteria of being active content creators who are currently earning money from their work. The survey was conducted using a structured questionnaire, and responses were collected anonymously.