- Michael Mignano, co-founder of podcast platform Anchor, believes focusing on the creator economy props up a financial structure that only benefits 1% of elite creators and their host platforms.
- Mignano describes “The Creativity Supply Chain” as a mass market for creativity made up of the supply, incentives and demand that drive how and why people create.
- The Creativity Supply Chain rests on the technology-enabled “superpowers” like AI and 5G that will turbo-charge the creative economy, generating massive market value in the process.
The creator economy is depicted as a burgeoning opportunity — for a few. Yet the millions of people unable to sustain a living from creating and distributing their work online may in fact be the biggest untapped market of them all.
So says Michael Mignano, co-founder of podcast platform Anchor, who lays out the idea of the “Creativity Supply Chain” for his blog on Medium.
He thinks that the creator economy hasn’t lived up to its sky-high expectations. Even finding 1,000 true fans to monetize your work is hard enough for a few people.
“Most creators can’t break through platforms’ algorithms. Most creators are not marketing experts,” he says. “The creator economy was never about democratization; it was about elitism.”
Mignano makes the case that the other 99% of creators is where giant wealth lies. That does not necessarily mean that 99% of the rest of us are suddenly going to get rich.
Or maybe it does.
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“What if the opportunity for creativity is much bigger than what we’ve all been calling the creator economy? I believe it is. I call this opportunity, The Creativity Supply Chain.”
Mignano breaks this concept into four areas: supply, incentives, demand and “superpowers.”
When it comes to supply, he thinks it obvious that “we are all creative.” We write, take photos, edit videos, even design presentations. We all create content using tools like our phone’s camera, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. We make podcasts and so on. There would seem no end to this supply, perhaps because humans are innately driven to share their version of the reality they find.
In any case, in the internet age there are market mechanisms that financially and socially incentivize all of this creation, distribution and consumption of creativity. Even if the goal is not to make money but to advocate something, Mignano believes the universal reason we all create is because “there is overwhelming demand for creativity.”
I’m not sure I buy into this. Does a racist football player mouthing obscenity on Twitter qualify as a creator since they have written and shared something? I don’t think everyone is a creator, or rather I don’t believe all shared interactions should be labelled creative. It demeans the meaning of the word and applies value where there is none.
Following Mignano’s logic, “By this time next year, you will probably be consuming even more creativity as more products and services launch and your devices become more powerful. And while your demand for creativity continues to grow, so too does that demand for nearly everyone else on this planet; especially people who are just coming online for the first time in their lives, such as in emerging nations which are just gaining access to high-speed internet.”
More supply, more demand — it’s a virtuous circle “happening in greater volume and velocity than ever” thanks to the superpowers of technology.
“Technology both democratizes and turbo-charges all of the above components, making them more accessible, efficient, and powerful. And the rate at which creative superpowers are improving is accelerating every day.”
The “superpowers” highlighted here include AI where tools like text to video engines will put a rocket under everyone’s ability to create photoreal worlds and moving image narratives.
“It’s not hard to imagine a world in which the cost of creativity plummets as a result of the rise of AI-enabled generative media. Ten years from now, will major movie studios be investing hundreds of millions in blockbuster films? Or will a state-of-the-art AI model do all the work instead for orders of magnitude less?”
Another tech superpower is a souped-up internet enabled by 5G and computing at the network edge. Mignano even looks ahead to 6G, “which will make creative mediums like AR and VR more accessible,” and is expected to begin rolling out in 2030.
Further advancements in machine learning and recommendation media will have massive implications on both the supply and demand sides of creativity.
“For creators, finding an audience for your creativity will happen automatically upon platform distribution,” Mignano predicts. “We’ll upload our content, and the platform’s ML [machine learning] algorithms will find the perfect audience at the perfect time for our work.
“On the demand side, we will instantly and easily access the exact content we want to consume with far less friction. The supply and demand flywheel of creativity will spin far faster as a result of machine learning.”
For evidence of this flywheel already being engaged, he calculates out that core businesses in the Creativity Supply Chain — Spotify, Shopify, Squarespace, Adobe and Snap — represent more than $370 billion of market cap. Companies with big stakes in the Creativity Supply Chain — like Meta, Apple, Alphabet, and Netflix — represent more than $7 trillion of market capitalization.
Need more evidence? Look at Adobe’s $20 billion acquisition of Figma, the largest ever acquisition of a venture-backed company, “for proof that there is massive demand for companies contributing to the Creativity Supply Chain.”
Make no mistake, Mignano says, the Creativity Supply Chain isn’t some theoretical concept from the future; it’s happening right now.
The cultural impact a creator has is already surpassing that of traditional media, but there’s still a stark imbalance of power between proprietary platforms and the creators who use them. Discover what it takes to stay ahead of the game with these fresh insights hand-picked from the NAB Amplify archives:
- How Creators (Professional and Otherwise) Are Making Money in the Creator Economy
- Almost 25% of Us Are Content Creators. Here’s Why That’s Awesome (and How It’s Actionable).
- Storytelling on Demand: It Has to Happen for the Creator Economy
- In the Creator Economy, Creator-Educators Contain Multitudes
- The Economy Part of the Creator Economy
- Why Community Is Everything for the Creator Economy