TikTok is launching a $70 million (£54m) fund to pay some European creators for their content.
It’s the first time the app’s made money available to EU users. It wants to hold onto existing talent and attract new ones.
The video app says it wants to “help support ambitious creators” and says it hopes it will allow users to “foster a livelihood”.
Previously, users only made money with livestreams or brand partnerships.
A similar fund, of $200m, was launched for US users earlier this month.
But there have been calls for the app to be banned in America due to security concerns.
Extra cash or ‘full-time job’
“The UK has a long history of creativity and that’s why TikTok has really thrived here,”says Rich Waterworth, the UK managing director of TikTok.
“Everyone has very different circumstances so we’re hoping this funding will be able to support creators in a whole variety of ways – from supplementing their income or turning into a full-time job.”
To be eligible for the new EU fund, users must be 18 years or older, have a certain number of followers and be posting original content that follows TikTok rules.
The company hasn’t said how it will choose users, but the cash will be given to creators in regular payments over the next year.
‘TikTok already seen as a career’
“Before this, trying to rationalise working short form – when you can get direct ad revenue on other platforms for longer form content – was a difficult task,” says James, who’s 24 and has had more than 70 million likes on the calligraphy videos he shares on TikTok.
TikTok says it expects the fund will rise to around $300m (£231m) within three years “giving talented individuals the opportunity to turn their creativity into a career.”
But there is a question over whether the fund could change the motives of creators on the world’s most downloaded app – if they’re competing for cash.
“The majority of content creators are already viewing it as a career,” says James.
“I’ve been creating art on various platforms for the last seven years and it’s something I’ll continue to do whether or not this fund happens.”
For James, the fund could mean artists make the content they want, instead of taking commissions from other people.
“It’s always been a case that we’re using our talent to create for other people and my goal over the past few years – and for a lot of other creative people – was to create stuff that I really enjoy and that I’m really passionate about,” he explains.
The fund isn’t the first time there has been investment in European talent.
Back in April the UK’s first TikTik house was revealed, where users live to make content.
It has previously been estimated creators with more than two million followers in the UK may earn annual incomes upwards of £25,000 and some can earn much more with long-term brand deals and merchandising opportunities.
For James, seeing Tik Tok as a career shouldn’t be a creator’s sole motivation.
“Focus on the content first and focus on something that you really enjoy,” he advises.
“If you’re going into it thinking you want this to be a career then you’re more likely to hit creative blocks if you’re not doing something you love first.”
Competition for content
Rivals are making moves, too.
Instagram, owned by Facebook, is launching Reels, letting people record and edit 15-second videos set to music and audio, and upload them to their Instastories and Instagram’s Explore feature.
Facebook has been offering money to TikTok creators to start using Reels instead.
YouTube, which lets users monetise their channels, also recently announced its own $100 million fund to “amplify” content from Black users.
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