The huge disappointment of The Creator Economy

Most of what's produced by the Creator Economy is crap.

The theory was that when everyone has access to the tools and platforms to freely share their boundless creativity - we would finally attain a cultural utopia where gatekeepers would no longer be able to throttle creative expression; and talent, who otherwise would have remained undiscovered, emerges from almost everywhere.

In reality - 99.999999% of the content created by the utter shit, and the same old songs and stars from bygone eras are now more popular than ever.

Why in 2022 was a a 37-year-old Kate Bush track, the most streamed song on Spotify?

Why is 2022 biggest movie a sequel of a silly 'dorm room classic' from 1986?

Even Wall Street are falling all over themselves to buy lucrative back catalogs of old artists like Neil Young, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Shakira, and Jimmy Iovine.

The tried and tested has value, the rest...doesn't.

WTF is going on?

According to researcher Adam Mastroianni - we are experiencing a 'cultural oligopoly' - where a handful of superstars are literally conquering culture.

You may have noticed that every popular movie these days is a remake, reboot, sequel, spinoff, or cinematic universe expansion. In 2021, only one of the ten top-grossing films––the Ryan Reynolds vehicle Free Guy––was an original. There were only two originals in 2020’s top 10, and none at all in 2019.

In reality - creativity is a big business and that business values 'hits'.

Taking a chance on something new and different and emerging doesn't win you any awards. Risky is risky - so culture is literally becoming a massive reinforcing feedback loop of old hits, recreated to feel somehow new again.

When creativity — or lack thereof — is primarily driven by financial returns, risks are minimized. Audiences are left malnourished.

The real problem is how we measure success - creativity is judged on popularity, on views, charts, by the amount of money it makes; but this in no way indicates what kind of cultural impact the work has.

The metrics we use are literally throttling the future of entertainment.

Lots of people have read the Da Vinci Code - that doesn't make it a good book.

If I have to hear another person mention that they are re-reading Shantaram.... (FFS there are millions of great books out there, move on from bloody Shantaram).

Top Gun is a popular movie, but it's certainly not a classic that will be studied for its groundbreaking cinematic approach.

Most of what's produced by the Creator Economy is crap, but that doesn't mean that it should be ignored in favour of safer options.

It means that as consumers of the content we need to work harder and get better at exploring it and nurturing talent that shows promise, so that it can breathe and flourish.


Pop Culture Has Become an Oligopoly
A cartel of superstars has conquered culture. How did it happen, and what should we do about it?
The Creator Paradox: Cultural Stasis Amidst Creative Surplus
How is it that reboot culture is winning, despite the radical hype around the Creator Economy and continued vision for the Long Tail?
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