TikTok is launching a program to fund its most popular creators directly for their videos — with an initial $200 million earmarked for the U.S. But for now, the short-form video app company doesn’t have specifics on how the program will work.
“Through the TikTok Creator Fund, our creators will be able to realize additional earnings that reflect the time, care, and dedication they put into creatively connecting with an audience that’s inspired by their ideas,” Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok U.S., wrote in announcing the program. The $200 million fund will “help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content,” she added.
How much individual creators will be eligible to earn — and what specific criteria those payments will be based on — isn’t fully clear. A TikTok spokesperson also did not have any info on what creators must agree to in order to receive funding (for example, whether they must post a certain amount of videos exclusively on the platform).
For now, here’s what TikTok is saying: The TikTok Creator Fund will open for applications from U.S. creators beginning in August 2020. To be eligible, users must be at least 18 years old, meet a minimum threshold for followers (TikTok isn’t saying what that is right now), and “consistently post original content in line with our Community Guidelines,” according to a rep.
Cash from the TikTok Creator Fund will be distributed in regular payments over the coming year, and the amount of the fund is expected to grow over that time, the company said.
The purpose, according to Pappas, is to help TikTokkers earn a living as professional creators. In that sense, it’s akin to the longstanding YouTube Partner Program that shares advertising revenue to participants.
TikTok stars have had other ways to monetize their internet fame on the platform. TikTok livestreams let creators receive a cut of fan-purchased emoji they can send during a live session, a program “hundreds of thousands of U.S. creators” participate in, Pappas said. In addition, there’s the TikTok Creator Marketplace, which connects brands with creators to collaborate on paid campaigns. TikTok influencers are also inking representation deals with Hollywood talent agencies for off-platform projects like Addison Rae’s new Spotify-exclusive podcast with her mother.
Earlier this year, TikTok also established a $50 million Creative Learning Fund as part of its COVID-19 response. Through that fund, more than 1,000 educators who have been affected by the global pandemic have received payments, the company said.
“We’re proud and honored to celebrate our family of TikTok creators who’ve built careers through the platform,” Pappas wrote in the blog post announcing the program. She called out several TikTokkers as having gone pro: LGBTQ+ “trailblazer” @bomanizer, father-sons trio @the.mcfarlands, makeup and hair artist/dancer @challxn, and @tabithabrown, who recently signed with CAA and “became the face of the vegan community with her loving and personable videos.”
TikTok’s launch of the new initiative to pay U.S. creators comes as the company — now led by ex-Disney executive Kevin Mayer — has faced increased saber-rattling from American politicians and policymakers over its ties to China. The U.S. government is contemplating banning the app over security concerns, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month, because TikTok is owned and operated by Beijing-based ByteDance.
In the U.S. alone, TikTok is expected to grow from 37.2 million monthly users last year to 45.4 million in 2020 — up 22% year over year, according to research firm eMarketer. That’s assuming, of course, the U.S. government doesn’t enact some kind of ban on the app.
Separately, also today TikTok and the National Music Publishers’ Association announced that the company signed a multiyear agreement, which accounts for TikTok’s past use of musical works and “sets up a forward-looking partnership,” according to the announcement.