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Why huge TikTok pay day in the US is zero for these Aussies

TikTok is being called on to pay Australian content creators so they can do their passion full-time.

Australian content creators are begging TikTok to bring its monetisation system Down Under, as they argue it’s hard to make engaging, funny and informative videos when they don’t get paid for them.

In 2020, the social media app launched a remuneration program in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain. It’s called the Creator Fund and it pays users some serious coin if they hit certain targets on their videos. TikTok said it would give out around $1 billion to users who hit certain criteria.

Some creators revealed they’d earned enough from just one video to pay for two months of rent. Their counterparts in Australia, though, have told Yahoo Finance it’s hard to do this full-time in a cost-of-living crisis if they’re not being financially supported by the app they’re making content for.

Three TikTok content creators side by side
Content creators Thomas Sharpe, Molly Butland and Ben Hutchinson say it's time for TikTok to bring its monetisation system to Australia. (Source: Instagram)

Do you have a story? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

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Ben Hutchinson has racked up more than 4 million followers on TikTok, tens of millions of views and hundreds of millions of likes on his videos. And yet, he has to grind every day to make sure he keeps a roof over his head.

“If I could make money purely off the views that I'm getting, then that would put me at so much ease rather than having to worry about getting brand deals and doing the whole influencer thing,” he told Yahoo Finance.

Ben said, while brand deals were always welcome, they weren’t a reliable source of income.

“There have been times where, especially recently, a lot of the companies have had their marketing budgets slashed so there's not so many influencer briefs going around,” he said.

To be eligible, TikTok’s Creator Fund required creators to be over the age of 18, have at least 10,000 authentic followers, have accrued at least 100,000 authentic views in the previous 30 days and post original content in keeping with community guidelines.

However, it was shut down late last year and replaced with the Creativity Program, which promised to offer “up to 20 times the amount previously offered by the Creator Fund”.

The new program prioritises “high-quality videos” longer than one minute and the reward is calculated on qualified views and average gross revenue per 1,000 qualified views. This is based on video engagement, content authenticity, the region in which your video is viewed, as well as adherence to the community guidelines and terms of service.

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Reesa Tessa became an overnight sensation after she uploaded a 50-part series called Who TF Did I Marry? In the collection of clips, she took viewers on a journey of how she found out her now-ex-husband was a “liar”. The series, which runs for several hours, has been viewed more than 430 million times on TikTok.

Her instant fame saw her given free flights from fans and offers of sponsored content from big-name brands. However, she revealed in an interview with The Cut that she was only given around US$5,000 from TikTok.

A Creator Fund in Australia could be ‘life-changing’

TikTok’s monetisation system is similar to those employed by the likes of YouTube, Facebook and X. But, sadly for Australians, it’s not yet available.

Molly Butland couldn’t believe it when she saw a TikTok from an American creator bragging about how much they earned from a single video.

“During the height of my success on TikTok, I was also a very broke university student completing my Master’s degree,” she told Yahoo Finance.

“Hypothetically speaking, a Creator Fund could have been life-changing. Money doesn't solve all your problems but it can help solve a few.”

She said content creators put a lot of time and effort into their craft. They have to find their niche, take feedback, analyse data and constantly be coming up with ideas for the next video.

It’s a tough gig to do if you’re not financially stable and Butland wants to know why TikTok hasn’t brought the fund to Australia.

“The Australian social media space has grown and changed so much since the launch of TikTok,” she said. Many creators have garnered international audiences and seen huge success.

“Australian creators continue to make amazing and consistent content that directly benefits TikTok Australia and it would be awesome to see these people remunerated for it.”

The issue could be related to audience size

Thomas Sharpe, another Aussie creator who has grown a sizeable social media presence that includes 10 million followers on TikTok, shared Molly’s views and said it was hard to be a full-time creator.

“When you meet and talk with creators in the US and see the revenue they are generating organically it’s quite hard to hear, and the feeling of missing out on life-changing revenue is hard to fathom,” he explained to Yahoo Finance.

“We work hard with brands and also have YouTube and Facebook revenue, which is great. That’s where the confusion sets in, why do other platforms have ad revenue and not TikTok? We feel quite forgotten about.”

However, Sharpe has a theory on why the fund is yet to make its way to Australia.

“With only 8.5 million users in Australia, that amount of ad revenue that would come through is significantly lower [than the US] so it makes sense why we are yet to get a Creator Fund," he said.

He had a simple message for TikTok.

“Listen to creators more and help facilitate and push for monetisation in Australia,” he said.

“Instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on big events and award ceremonies, how about you use that money to fairly pay the creators that make the app the way it is and used today?”

Yahoo Finance reached out to TikTok, asking why the Creativity Program and Creator Fund hadn’t been brought to Australia, but was yet to hear back.

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