Summary right here: I don't need your content. I can access the Internet.

Transaction value: zero

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I disagree. I think for new content creators particularly, there is value in seeing how newsletters are developed, marketed, and structured. Sure, you could search the web for topics and headlines, much in the same way you could cook your own dinner vs. going to a restaurant or sing your own song vs. going to a concert. You pay for curation, talent, and an experience. I'm looking forward to future editions of this newsletter.

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There's absolutely value for new content creators in seeing how the sausage is made. And yes, everything is a remix, and people have made good businesses on remixing the right things and providing it with context and personality that people might pay in preference over another.

But the Creator Economy is sill predicated on bad math. Li Jin captured this pretty well last week: https://li.substack.com/p/the-creator-economy-is-in-crisis

The term promises a false world where we all can all be NBA stars. When in reality, the power law economics means a handful will earn, and the 99% cannot purchase a daily cup of coffee for their efforts. Publishers took a bigger cut way back when, but this dynamic has not changed going back decades to even book and magazine publishing. The market isn't that big for people to profit from paying content. Whats worse now is that we're drowning in content.

An opportunity for goo aggregators and curators? Surely. But how many producers of TikTok ice fishing videos can the Internet profitably sustain?

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I don't agree with the NBA stars analogy. There are a tiny number of NBA stars and even the worst of them make millions of dollars. While yes, only a tiny percentage of creators can make millions of dollars, tens of thousands more of them can earn a comfortable middle class living.

Here's a better analogy, I think: becoming a lawyer. Becoming a lawyer isn't easy, and a relatively small portion of the population becomes lawyers. You still have to go through four years of undergrad and three years of law school, but after that a career in law is attainable. To stretch this analogy into the creator space, yes, you can build a full-time living as a creator, but it could take upwards of three to four years pumping out content to a very small audience and making very little money, which is roughly the equivalent to going to law school.

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The NBA comparison was an illustration of the power law. But I don't see where the math comes from that supports a market of tens of thousands of content creators making middle class livings.

It's not even just where the money is going to come from, which is an easier problem to solve. It's where the market size comes from to cover that cost is going to come from. Especially in a marketplace where the value on content is still asymptotically going to zero with every new content producer dumping into the bit bin. There's a lot of Field of Dreams thinking in the creator economy: make it, and they will come and pay for your mortgage.

Being a lawyer who passes a bar exam versus a glut of content creators with varying levels of expertise isn't a really good comparison though. Because with content creators you can be good and competent but still not earn a livable following (and hence someone to pay your bills). We need lawyers to achieve things in society. Content creators are expendable and most even interchangeable for purpose.

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There are already tens of thousands of content creators making full time livings. I've interviewed hundreds of them for my podcast and newsletter, and I'm not even scratching the surface.

Let's do a little math and say that the bare minimum you have to make to consider content creation as your fulltime job is $50k.

Now let's add up the earnings on just a few of the platforms that have publicly touted their annual payouts to creators:

YouTube: $15.4 billion

Patreon: $1 billion

Substack: $24 million

Medium: $24 million.

That's a total of $16.4 billion. Divided by $50k, that's 328,000 salaries. Now given, there are going to be a lot of people at the upper and lower ends, but even if you cut that number in half, there are still tens of thousands of careers represented in those numbers. According to some estimates, there are over 23,000 YouTube accounts with over 1 million subscribers, and many YouTubers can start generating a full-time living with as few as 100,000 subscribers.

And those platforms I listed above represent just a few out of the hundreds of ways creators make money.

So yes, it's not a pipe dream to make a living as a full time creator. I've never said it would be easy, but it's certainly nowhere near as difficult as becoming an NBA player.

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