When Snap took on TikTok, it didn’t just release a copycat product. It distributed $1 million every day to those who submitted the most entertaining short-form videos to its Spotlight product.
But soon Snap will dial back that perk, prompting a question of whether the platform will continue to attract creators who could go elsewhere.
Snap (SNAP) announced Thursday, as part of its annual Snap (SNAP) Partner Summit, that more than 5,400 creators collectively earned more than $130 million through that program since it launched in November.
“It’s really changed people’s lives,” Ben Schwerin, Snap’s senior vice president of content and partnerships, told CNN Business.
As creator Dominic Andre told Adweek, “‘TikTok said, ‘We can make you famous overnight.’ Snapchat is going to make you rich overnight.’” For example, high school student Katie Feeney told The New York Times she earned more than $1 million from Spotlight over two months. Joey Rogoff, a 21-year-old creator, told CNBC he made $1.7 million.
Starting June 1, Snap is no longer committing to $1 million payouts per day and instead is offering millions per month.
So will people still use Snap’s Spotlight when there’s also Instagram’s Reels, YouTube’s Shorts and TikTok? Schwerin said Spotlight remains unique since it’s part of the Snapchat ecosystem. He also suggested it is more welcoming since it does not allow users to comment on videos, and profiles are private by default. On TikTok, users can choose to turn off comments or limit them to friends and can also choose to make their account private.
“Snapchat is all about lowering the bar for creation, making more people feel comfortable creating,” Schwerin said. On other “short-form video platforms, there’s a lot of pressure because when you post, it’s inherently public and your name’s on it. I think that’s, for some people, discouraging.”
Snap is also trying to entice creators with new ways to make money on Snapchat and new tools to create content for Spotlight.
One new feature called Gifting lets Snapchat users pay creators. Snapchat users can purchase Snap Tokens, the app’s currency, to buy virtual gifts and send them to Snap Stars, the app’s name for verified creators. Snap and creators share the revenue, but the split was not disclosed. This type of tipping feature is available on other social platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok.
The other new feature helps creators connect with brands for potential sponsorship deals. Snap announced earlier this month that it’s introducing a Creator Marketplace where marketers can discover and contact verified Snapchat creators. The portal, which launches Thursday, will initially showcase creators who make augmented reality experiences. But Snap said it will expand to other creators in the future.
When it comes to creating for Spotlight, Snap is launching a new app called Story Studio. The app offers editing tools, visual effects and a library of music and audio clips. It also has a list of trending topics, effects and sounds.
Snap is also making Spotlight available on the web. Anyone — with or without a Snapchat account — can watch Spotlight videos online, and creators can upload Spotlight videos through the website.
TikTok, however, already has many of the features Snap is now releasing. TikTok has long had its own Creator Marketplace. It also has a desktop site where users can watch TikTok videos and upload their own.