Note — Aug 16, 2020

Rise of the Renaissance Creator and the Next Media Model

Medium — Using the term “Renaissance Creator” might not have been my choice but I do like the premises of this piece; creators can gain their own authority and independence more easily, so big media companies can become umbrellas and talent management outfits regrouping creators; the latter can themselves stay autonomous and even and scale to becoming their own “labels.” The author focuses on various profiles of writers/journalists, making the parallel with musicians and their labels and talks about “the hybridization of the individual as both a creator and an entrepreneur” which I’d argue is actually even broader, for example extending even to intrapreneurship where larger companies can become portfolios of pretty independent sub-brands.

Sidenote: However, going on a bit of a tangent, remember that it’s always important not to idolize this transition. Independence is on a spectrum with massive successes like the top writers on Substack on one end and Uber or food delivery drivers—treated like indies but shackled inside a completely unfair market—on the other. Opportunities for some high performers are often used to give a nice sheen to the adjacent models who simply externalize employees. The commodification of comms and infrastructure makes possible both liberating opportunities and extraction through precarity.

And while media companies spend time working to restructure and focus their business on talent and become “the label”, we’ll see a lot of individuals exit the major “labels” and go independent. These creators will then structure themselves as independent media companies and develop micro labels themselves. […]

This is what I’m calling the age of the Renaissance Creator — the hybridization of the individual as both a creator and an entrepreneur. This development and definition of ‘creativity’ is one of the more interesting things happening today because it is contrary to the supposed logic for a creator to go independent. […]

Newsletters have put tangible value on a creator’s work that has allowed them to build a business around both their individual brand and the content that they create. It is both a platform and a format. It’s enabled the creator to deliver thoughtful analysis with a consistent point of view. It’s allowed them to create a “micro label” business outside of the management of larger holding companies. It’s valuable. […]

As you can see, not only has this format enabled any creator to enter the venue and launch a media company, but it’s also enabled a new way of thinking of putting value on the creator work which then breeds new business models tied to ownership, consumer relationship (ie. customers are fans) and beyond.