TikTok is launching a $200 million fund to pay creators, the fast-growing video app announced on Thursday — representing the largest and most direct means of TikTok paying its users to date.
In recent years, TikTok has proven a breeding ground for stars, with music labels and Hollywood talent agencies alike prowling the app for promising acts to add into their ranks. That’s given a lucrative platform to young talent, who’ve scored record deals, acting roles and major brand partnerships from their TikTok fame — superstars like Charli and Dixie D’Amelio have partnered with luxury fashion brands, released music, and launched a makeup line, for example — but for the most part TikTok itself hadn’t as directly paid their creators and instead toted the opportunities that came with popularity on the app.
It’s been a stark contrast to other video-streaming platforms like YouTube, which gives a cut of ad revenue from creators’ videos back to the talent. TikTok’s lack of direct revenue streams for creators had drawn ire from some TikTokers and their teams in the past; the new fund seems to be a step in addressing the concern.
A spokesperson for TikTok said the app is “looking to help support ambitious creators who are seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content.” Fund recipients will receive regular payments throughout the year, and the TikTok says the fund will get larger. Applications for the fund open in August, and only people aged 18 or older will qualify for the new fund — leaving out plenty of popular teenage creators. (Charli D’Amelio, the most-followed creator, is 16.)
Still, for those who gain a large enough following, monetization is available via other means. Young artists are consistently scoring lucrative record deals thanks to their viral tunes on the app: Breland, for example, signed a deal with Atlantic Records after the success of “My Truck,” and Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” had its beginnings as a TikTok hit. The more popular creators can ask for thousands of dollars for brand deals and features their videos, or leverage their pull for collaborations with celebrities for further exposure, agents say. The entire D’Amelio family is signed to United Talent Agency. Meanwhile, fellow star Addison Rae is signed to WME, and The Sway House collective, part of Talentx Entertainment, is signed to ICM Partners.
Prior to Thursday’s announcement, TikTok had bolstered potential branding opportunities by establishing a creator marketplace, designed to help brands and companies connect with creators. The company recently also started a $50 million creative learning fund that supports teachers’ content, but the new fund is the most directly hands-on TikTok has been in getting cash into its creators’ pockets.
“To further support our creators, we’re launching the TikTok Creator Fund to encourage those who dream of using their voices and creativity to spark inspirational careers,” TikTok U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas said in a statement. “In a relatively short time, TikTok has grown to become a source of income and opportunity for creators and their families – and we couldn’t be more encouraged by their success. As our community continues to flourish, we’re committed to fostering even more ways for our creators to earn livelihoods by inspiring joy and creativity.”