The individual is the new company
Platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, SubStack, OnlyFans, Patreon, ProductHunt, Cameo and the Dutch PetjeAf now make it possible to utilize your own creativity, for (useless) skills, hobbies and interests. It is democratization and decentralization of creativity. These new digital platforms enable people to earn a living in a way that emphasizes their individuality. It is also called “individual revenue generation” or “consumer business”. The individual is the new business.
MrBeast and Ryan Kaji
Two well-known examples are MrBeast and Ryan Kaji. Both have built an empire around their own personality. Around Brand I. Kaji began judging toys at the age of three through his vlog Ryan’s World. He now has his own toy series, a cartoon, and earns about $ 29 million annually. MrBeast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, posted his first YouTube video in 2012. His videos, where he performs crazy stunts and gives hundreds of thousands of dollars away, have been viewed billions of times and earn him millions. In late 2020, he launched his own fast food chain MrBeast Burger. The chain has no branches of its own; the dishes are ordered online and made in existing kitchens according to his own recipe.
Fandoms as the dominant currency
Using the tools from the platforms, creators (“creators”) can reach the audience on a large scale, build a loyal following of true fans and turn their passions and interests into earnings, whether it’s playing video games, producing video content or writing a newsletter. Whole fandoms – these are communities of fans who share a common interest in a cultural phenomenon – are currently emerging around all sorts of passions, personalities and preferences.
Marketing guru Zoe Scaman explains in her online slide deck The New Fandom Formula that these ‘fandoms will become the dominant currency, both culturally and commercially, in music, sports, film, television and more’. As an example, she lists a number of TikTok tribes, each with its own visual identity and ethos, such as BookTok, CleanTok, WitchTok, CottageCore, Clowncore, and Goblincore.
More than ten years ago, Kevin Kelly, co-founder of the cablealready published an essay entitled “1000 True Fans”, in which he predicted that the Internet would enable large groups of people to make a living from their creations, be it a “craftsman, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator , app maker, entrepreneur or inventor. ”Instead of chasing fame on a large scale, he reasoned, it is only necessary to attract a modest group of” true fans. “where he die hard fans as individuals who are willing to buy whatever you produce. It’s the people who drive more than 200 miles to see you perform who buy the hardback, paperback, and audio versions of your book, buy the next sculpture unseen, and pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free Youtube channel.
It only takes 1,000 of those fans who pay $ 100 a year to realize an annual income of $ 100,000. By embracing online networks, he believes that the manufacturers of all these products can bypass traditional gatekeepers and middlemen and be paid directly by a small group of fans to live comfortably on the revenue. Venture capitalist Li Jin goes one step further than Kelly. She claims that there will be no more for 1000 fans, but only 100, who each pay $ 1000 a year to generate the same annual income.
Jin makes his idea clear from under fan model† It’s a pyramid that provides insight into how fans pay for the creator’s attention. The lowest level uses standard ads, which make money on viewers even if they accidentally get to work. In the layer above are the so-called affiliate links, with which fans can buy something recommended by an influencer with a discount code. In the next layer, we enter a subscription model, where fans pay a small monthly amount for, for example, private videos on Onlyfans or a Substack newsletter. Even higher up are the custom merchandising or social media posts for superfans. This includes a personal answering machine that can be purchased through Cameo. At the highest level, we find the fans who pay an extreme amount, such as the buyer of the work Everyday by Beeple. We therefore also find the NFTs at this level. They are a way for those with sufficient financial resources to capture the attention of a creator. In fact, with an NFT, you are buying the attention of the selling party.