What the Hollywood Strike Means for Creators

The impact of the actors and writers' strike on the creator economy.

SAG-AFTRA

Today’s Edition

  • SAG-AFTRA releases guidelines for influencers

  • Instagram Reel Templates get an update

  • TikTok and Warner Music Group expand their partnership

What the Hollywood Strike Means for Creators

SAG-AFTRA

Hollywood is witnessing its first joint strike since the 1960s. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) united with the writers' strike, taking a stand against major companies like Amazon, Apple, Disney, Netflix, Paramount/CBS, and others, represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Their united efforts are focused on improved wages, fair streaming revenue, protection from AI, and more.

Influencers Face Specific Guidelines During the Strike

As creators have been able to join the 160,000-member union since 2021 thanks to the Influencer Agreement, SAG-AFTRA released an FAQ for influencers. It offers insights into how creators can show support for those on strike and outlines what they can and cannot do during this time.

Here is an overview:

  • Creators may engage in brand partnerships but must avoid work promoting struck companies unless they are already under contract.

  • Promoting any struck companies, even in unpaid capacities like being a "fan," is prohibited.

  • Attending conventions like Comic-Con to promote struck companies through appearances, panels, and fan meet and greets is not allowed. However, independent attendance without association is permitted.

  • Creators involved in cross-promotional campaigns with struck companies should seek specific guidance from SAG-AFTRA.

A notable highlight of the FAQ is that non-members engaging in work for struck companies during the strike will be permanently ineligible for future SAG-AFTRA membership.

Companies Turn to Digital Creators Amid Talent Shortage

Studios are grappling with limited access to traditional talent. In response, they are turning their attention to digital creators as a potential solution to fill the talent gap. It echoes the approach the National Football League (NFL) took during its 1987 strike, where the league continued playing games with "replacement players.”

Opportunities and Dilemmas for Creators

Creators are being approached to assist in promoting upcoming releases and even take on on-camera roles. While this presents an enticing opportunity, creators should carefully consider the potential long-term impact on their careers. This is especially true for creators aspiring to transition into Hollywood, as accepting opportunities with struck companies could have lasting repercussions, given SAG-AFTRA's significant role in the movie and film industry. It could also strain their relationship with their audience and fellow creators who support the strike.

Navigating Content Creation

Content creators focusing on movie and TV-related content, such as reviews, breakdowns, commentary, reactions, and cosplay, are also facing crucial decisions. They must weigh the options of maintaining business as usual, exploring different content themes, or temporarily halting their activities.

To Stand in Solidarity or Not

Whether creators choose to support actors and writers in their strike efforts depends on their unique situations. Factors such as how creators perceive their work in relation to the entertainment industry, their future aspirations, and their financial circumstances play significant roles in their decisions. For some creators, the opportunities they receive during this time may be ones they never get when the strike ends, which also makes things even harder.

A Path Towards Creator Unions: Addressing Fair Pay and AI Concerns

As the strike highlights issues of fair pay and concerns over AI's role in entertainment, more creators may consider forming their own unions, addressing similar challenges faced in the creator economy.

Influencer pay remains a significant discussion point, while the rise of AI hints at an imbalanced relationship between creators and brands. Brands are starting to turn to AI-powered content generators and virtual influencers for content creation and promotion, potentially sidelining human creators in the process. In the short term, creators, in the absence of robust creator unions, will need to be savvy with their contracts, such as specifically addressing the usage of their likeness or content with AI to prevent brands from overusing it without fair compensation.

News, Insights & Trends

Instagram upgraded its Reels Templates. It launched an improved Template Browser that enables users to browse templates by categories such as Recommended and Trending. It also enhanced the creation and editing experience by adding text, transitions, and AR effects. In the coming weeks, Instagram will automatically add the text and transitions used in the original Reel to templates.

These simplify the process for creators to discover and use templates. While templates make content creation more accessible by providing inspiration and a foundation to start with, they may also result in more similar content filling up feeds. This can be seen on TikTok, thanks to its integration with CapCut, which provides numerous easy-to-use templates centered around trending and popular content. Relying solely on templates to produce Reels could discourage viewers, so creators must be mindful of balancing the use of templates to jump on trends with creating unique content that helps them stand out from others.

Instagram has been reaching out to talent management agencies via email to help get their clients on Threads. These emails provide guidance on various topics, such as how creators can make their first posts when they join the platform, tips for starting a conversation, and content ideas such as contests, challenges, watch parties, live commentary, and more. They also highlight "top creators" across different categories like lifestyle, sports, and music.

Threads usage may be down, but Instagram still has many ways to keep users engaged. In addition to launching in-demand features, bringing more creators to the platform and helping them succeed is another way, as creators typically drive content production and keep users coming back.

Facebook is updating its video features. It is bringing editing tools from Reels to Feed videos, allowing access to audio, music, and text options, along with new features like speeding up, reversing, and replacing clips from a single location. Creators can also upload HDR videos from their phones. Facebook Watch is now called the Video tab and will contain all types of videos, including Reels, long-form, and live videos. The Explore Page has been redesigned to allow users to discover videos based on relevant topics and hashtags using a combination of human curation and machine learning. Plus, Facebook users can now view and comment on Instagram Reels shared on Facebook.

Users now have a more streamlined way of discovering video content, regardless of its format. These updates also shed light on a gradual yet persistent trend of platforms simplifying their video experiences. For instance, Instagram made all video posts shared as Reels, and more recently, Pinterest consolidated Idea Pins and standard Pins into a unified format. Facebook also makes it enticing for creators to cross-post their Instagram Reels to Facebook since viewers can now interact with their Reels on Facebook.

TikTok and Warner Music Group (WMG) announced a first-of-its-kind partnership to expand licensed music from Warner Recorded Music and Warner Chappell Music to TikTok, TikTok Music, CapCut, and TikTok's Commercial Music Library. Along with music licensing, WMG artists and songwriters will get more revenue and marketing opportunities, such as collaborating with TikTok brand partners and utilizing new monetization features like merchandise, ticketing, and digital goods.

In the past, TikTok and WMG have disagreed over the value of music on the platform, making this deal particularly notable. TikTok can continue to offer popular and trending music to its users, including through its newly launched streaming service, TikTok Music. WMG can continue to leverage the discovery that TikTok provides for its artists and receive fairer revenue streaming for licensed music. Since the spring, TikTok has stayed busy with a number of music-related initiatives.

TikTok is reportedly incentivizing creators to use its e-commerce platform, TikTok Shop. Some creators are being offered cash incentives for posting a certain number of videos that result in sales or linking products from TikTok Shop in live streams that last a certain amount of time. It’s also offering support for creators, such as direct points of contact, early access to products, beta features, and special promotions.

TikTok is employing a familiar approach used by other social media platforms to drive the adoption of new features. Similar strategies have been seen with Meta's Reels Play Bonus Program and YouTube's YouTube Shorts Fund, which have proven effective in enticing creators by providing financial incentives. The drawback is that creators may lose interest once the rewards or bonuses are discontinued. If TikTok can successfully encourage a large number of creators to adopt TikTok Shop, it could potentially develop a program akin to the Amazon Influencer Program.

TikTok has opened its Commercial Content Library to users. This library allows users to search for and view commercial content, including paid media ads and other commercial content tagged with the paid partnership label (e.g., branded content, sponsored content, etc.). Users can search for ads based on region, creative, dates the ad ran, targeting parameters, and more. For other commercial content, users can search by the creator's country, posted date, and the creator's username. It’s only available for content in Europe but is expected to expand to more regions.

This move is TikTok's way of complying with the forthcoming requirements of the European Union's Digital Services Act (DSA), which include platforms offering a searchable database for ads with information such as who paid for it and the reach of ads. Though the primary use case is transparency, it's a great addition for brands to see how their competitors are advertising, whether through paid media ads or working with creators, across the platform.

YouTube updated the Channel Permissions feature, which allows creators to assign access to their channels through different roles. This feature was previously only available in YouTube Studio. Now, those assigned the roles of Manager, Editor, and Editor (Limited) can manage a channel directly from YouTube, whether on desktop or mobile.

The feature provides creators with more privacy and protection by allowing their team members to manage their channels on their behalf without needing to share their passwords. This is especially helpful for creators who are outsourcing work or have large teams, such as artists with record labels and management.

Pinterest is accepting applications for the second cycle of its North America Creator Inclusion Fund until the end of the month. This cycle is focused on creators in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food, and wellness spaces. Creators must meet eligibility requirements, such as identifying as part of an underrepresented community and having between 500 and 10,000 Pinterest followers to apply. Selected creators will receive cash, ad credits, access to educational resources, and more.

Creator funds have become less common, but Pinterest has continued with its version that rewards up-and-coming creators beyond monetary incentives. With recent sparse updates related to creators, this announcement serves as a good reminder of the work that Pinterest is doing for its creators.

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