From Lil Nas X to Addison Rae, artists from across the entertainment industry gathered on Aug. 12 for Variety‘s annual Creators Fest.

The summit focused on the importance of building a brand on social media and how business models are shifting to reward those responsible for making their own content. Here are 10 takeaways from the two-day event.

Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Sour’ Was Originally an EP

Olivia Rodrigo was in the process of making an EP, but a couple days after “Drivers License” came out (and immediately skyrocketed to the top of the charts), the teenage pop star called up her record label and insisted on making a full-length album.

“They were like, ‘Girl, are you sure? You’re filming a show and we need it to be done in a month or two.’ And I was like, ‘I’m positive. This is what I want to do.'”

So Rodrigo buckled down in the studio and wrote more songs. “I definitely feel like ‘Sour’ is more indicative of what I can do as a songwriter, and the EP was not as good as I could have done.”

Dixie D’Amelio Wants to Collaborate with Shawn Mendes

In the panel featuring the TikToking D’Amelio sisters, Dixie — who just put out her song “Psycho” featuring Rubi Rose — said she wants to collaborate with Shawn Mendes.

“He’s a big inspiration of mine,” D’Amelio said. “He started on Vine, and seeing how far he’s come — watching him in middle school and now he’s a top artist and so amazing and talented — I really admire that.”

Building a Personal Brand Online Requires Being Yourself

According to Brad Mondo — a professional hairstylist, digital creator and Founder and Creative Director of XMONDO — the most important piece of advice for up-and-coming creators is to be yourself.

“It’s one of the most corny things to say, but also one of the most difficult things to actually do, because you’re putting yourself out there to so many people that are gonna judge you, and the more judgments people make about you and the more you read into the judgments, the more your personality sort of changes to make people happy, at least in my case,” Mondo said. “And it took me a really long time to realize that I was doing that, and was trying to satisfy other people and trying to change myself based on what they say. And when I kind of realized that I just completely went back to being myself and not caring if people respond well to it.”

Addison Rae Never Planned on Becoming An Influencer

In a conversation with Addison Rae, one of the most popular TikTok stars — who has reached one of the largest Gen Z audiences — she said she reached her influence stardom organically.

“I wouldn’t say I ever planned on being as involved in social media as I am, but I always did dream of being an actress, being involved in music, being an artist, and being considered a part of the creative industry — the entertainment industry as a matter of fact.”

Internet Toxicity May Be Worse Due to the Pandemic

Rae also shared that she maintains a positive attitude by reminding herself that the negativity she receives may not always be this bad.

“I see a viral video nowadays, and I’ll look at the comments, and people just really like to tear people down and pick apart their appearance, and pick apart kind of small things that I never really would’ve ever noticed otherwise, or even that I wouldn’t, as a person, have ever pointed out. As toxic as the internet has become, or is, right now, I think there’s only up from there. And that’s kind of what I’ve tried to tell myself. ‘Cause, you know, it’s not gonna be like this forever. I think the internet has become a really toxic place, and I think it’s because so many people throughout the pandemic didn’t have much else to do with their time.”

Thomas Doherty Originally Also Auditioned For Obie

“Gossip Girl” star Thomas Doherty, who plays the woke, new generation version of the original Chuck Bass, said that he originally auditioned for Obie, played by Eli Brown, as well as Max.

“I actually was auditioning for Max and Obie, Eli’s character. I actually went quite far with both of them, and then it came to a point where it was like, ‘What one do you want to go ahead with to try and get the role?’ and Max was just better suited to me.”

Beauty Influencer Bretman Rock First Started Out On Club Penguin

Social media influencers Tink, Wisdom Kaye, Josh Richards, Andrew Bachelor aka King Bach, Bretman Rock and Molly Burke sat down to speak on building a storyteller brand and what social media app kickstarted their careers.

“My first social media I used was probably Club Penguin and I used my mom to sign up for it, but if we’re being serious my first blow-up social media would probably be Snapchat. I would always Snapchat all of my friends and they thought I was funny so they were actually the reason I started posting them on Instagram.”

Lil Nas X Knew Coming Out Could Be Risky

Young superstar Lil Nas X sat down to discuss his new album, “Montero,” and reflect back on his journey and decision to come out as gay at the top of his prime.

“When I first decided to be gay [laughs], I’m just kidding — I definitely knew that I would lose a lot of the fans that I gaining because a lot of those fans were super husky kinda guys — but I knew some other fans would come into their place and whatever happened I would find a way to keep it moving. Having that relief helped me so much creatively, and I wouldn’t even be here right now talking about the things that I’m talking about and being that voice for people.”

Organic Social Media Content Can Be Just As Effective as Paid Content

Randy Goldberg, co-founder and chief brand officer of apparel brand Bombas, shared how authenticity pays off when it comes to e-commerce. Along with selling clothes, Bombas donates much-needed socks to homeless shelters, and staying true to that mission is sometimes its own form of advertisement.

“We made a video to thank our customers when we hit our millionth pair donated. We thought that would take ten years, and it took two years. And we said, ‘You know, we haven’t made a video in a while. Let’s put a video out as a thank you,'” Goldberg said. “And it wasn’t intended to be an ad unit — we were thinking of it from a brand perspective, from who we are, what we wanna do for our community — and it tuned into an ad unit that was viewed 100 million times on Facebook.”

The E.l.f. Cosmetics x Chipotle Makeup Line Was Based on Fan Trends

Tressie Lieberman, vice president of digital and off-premise at Chipotle, said that Chipotle’s social media approach is largely based on listening into what people are already saying and doing online.

“That’s part of our strategy — supercharging the super fans. Finding those people who are just obsessed and then helping amplify their stories,” Lieberman said. She shared that after Chipotle noticed how well E.l.f. Cosmetics was doing on Tiktok, the two brands decided to lean into trends their fans had thought up. “We got together in a room and said, ‘How can we innovate? How can two like-minded brands come together and do something that’s unexpected?’ And we actually had a social insight where people were taking our line, the ingredient line at Chipotle, and turning into eyeshadow. We said, ‘Let’s actually create that.'”