TikTok is testing paid subscriptions for content creators to rival other social media networks.
According to a report from The Information, the company is testing the new feature. It hasn’t shared any information concerning when it might roll out or how many people are testing the feature. TikTok confirmed in an email to The Verge that it is “always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience.”
Paid subscriptions help social media companies like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram retain “talent.” If someone’s bread-winning platform is YouTube, it’s harder to leave and get established on a rival like Twitch. TikTok has already introduced several other models to allow creators to monetize the content they feature on the platform. That includes its Creator Next hub and a tipping feature for eligible Creators.
Direct-to-Creator payments are new territory for TikTok, which works by serving up content based on interests. Holding the best content for subscribers-only could leave the TikTok ‘Discover‘ feed feeling barren for those who haven’t found creators that match their tastes. It also puts creators in the tough spot of figuring out what’s worth sharing for free and what should be held for subscribers-only.
Instagram announced it is testing paid subscriptions for its creators this month, too.
Instagram subscribers can pay a small monthly fee to access exclusive content for the creators they follow. That includes Stories and Live videos. Instagram will offer creators different tiers that range in price from $0.99 to $99.99 per month, so they can set their own price.
Subscribers will also get a purple badge in the comments section to show they subscribe to a particular content creator. Instagram also says it won’t be taking a cut of creators’ subscription revenue until 2023.
Both Instagram and TikTok are currently testing the concept with plans to debut later this year. It will be interesting to see how direct-to-creator payments shape up to help artists get paid online. But by the time Google/Apple takes its tax and Instagram/TikTok take their portion, artists are looking at dwindling revenue even from supposedly ‘direct’ sources.