The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild agreed to a “influencer agreement” that expands coverage and membership options for online content makers.
The term influencer is used interchangeably with the terms of the content maker or the manufacturer, and the terms will apply to individuals who are paid to advertise products on social media platforms.
“The influencer agreement provides a path for both current and future members to cover compiled content created by the influencer under contract from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild. Our goal is to support these performers in a way that reflects the unique nature of their content,” Federation President Gabrielle Carteris wrote in an email. .
There is no minimum number of followers for influencers who wish to join the union, although eligibility to join health and pension insurance is based on specific job requirements.
The acquisition of the Screen Actors Guild has long been a symbol of the storming of Hollywood (the Screen Actors Guild merged with the American Television and Radio Artists Association in 2012).
Performers within the federation are likely to get work on a variety of film and television projects, providing many with access to health insurance and pension systems, and aspiring actors toil for months or even years as unnamed extras in order to earn enough credits to qualify.
Now, the definition of covered work within the consortium has expanded to include what successful creators do, which is creating branded content. It’s the latest sign that influencers are becoming a significant part of the entertainment industry and a huge source of revenue, as brands prepare to spend up to $ 15 billion on influencer marketers by 2022, up from $ 8 billion in 2019, according to a report from Insider. Intelligence and Mediakix.
The union currently represents about 160,000 professionals in the fields of film, television and radio, many of them struggled to find work over the past year as production declined during the epidemic, which also prompted the trend of entertainment industry professionals turning to social media to build new sources of income through advertising products. To their followers.
The “influencer agreement” at the union is the culmination of 3.5 years of research on the ground about how the entertainment landscape has changed, and as traditional entertainment professionals have moved to social media, producers and acting agents have begun to increasingly prospect for new talent there. Assigning Internet stars to roles or film and television promotions.
The ACPRA and New Screen Actors Association agreement opens membership to more YouTube users, TikTok members, Snapchat stars, and anyone else creating audio or propaganda video clips.
Dixie, Charlie Damilio and Addison Easterling, who are among the top content producers on TikTok, now have the eligibility to join the union, as is the case with any content creators doing video and audio under ongoing sponsorship, such as creating TikTok videos or Instagram story posts .
Association eligibility is not available to content producers hired to “still images” campaigns that only feature photography, not video or audio, but these are becoming increasingly scarce.
In addition to providing benefits, the association will be able to advocate on behalf of content creators and pursue legislation to serve the creative community. It can also provide assistance in collective bargaining and help settle payment disputes between influencers and the brands that employ them.
As word about the ad spread over the course of the week, many influencers were excited and dumbfounded. Lindsay Silberman, 34, a lifestyle influencer from New York City, said, “From everything I’ve read so far it looks like it’s something a lot of other creative people like me would do.” .
“I think this lends legitimacy and gives credibility to an industry that not many people have taken seriously,” she said, referring to the work that influencers are doing.
Most creators operate without or with little labor protection. Fraud is pervasive throughout the industry, and it’s totally unregulated. Content producers often operate as small advertising agencies themselves, producing, photographing, editing, distributing, and promoting their own content in addition to managing their finances, accounting, and legal matters. Many also lack health insurance or any type of workplace benefit.
Michelle Gonzalez, 32, content creator about travel in Los Angeles, said she hopes the union can raise awareness about salaries and employment.
“I think having a greater level of transparency about wages and who is included in campaigns can benefit influencers,” she added. “You cannot fight for equal pay or representation without knowing what your likes in the industry are earning. There is a big problem now in the influencer economy which is the lack of diversity.” Integration, and this problem exists in Hollywood as well. “
A critical feature of the new coverage efforts under the American Association of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild is that although the association will be able to represent creators in negotiations with advertising content makers, it will not be able to negotiate directly or individually with social media platforms. Social itself.
This is noticeable because many innovators in the industry have moved away from branding deals in recent years, preferring more straightforward forms of monetization such as creating businesses with subscriptions on platforms like Patreon and Only Fans, or through programs like Adsense on YouTube or Creative Credits for TikTok.
“The platforms have more leverage than any single brand. As the platforms offer monetization programs for creators, they will attract a larger segment of people on those platforms than they are,” said Lee Jin, founder of Atelier, a venture capital firm that invests in the impact economy. Branding deals. “
It remains to be seen how the consortium can defend online content creator relationships with platforms in the future.
Influencers have tried to create associations before, and the Influencers Council of America, an invitation-only non-profit professional association, was launched in 2020 as has the Creators Union, a union founded by a group of British content creators. In 2019, Instagram members tried to form a federation, but it quickly faded.
But the influencers’ agreement with the American Association of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild is a major step in giving a growing and influential industry a more powerful collective voice.
Influential expert Kat Molesworth told the Guardian last year, referring to unions, “It might have been needed a decade ago, as people are being exploited by unfair practices, and building on the matter is just beginning.”
Rachel Abrams contributed to the report.
© The New York Times Foundation 2021