Death of the Follower & the Future of Creativity on the Web with Jack Conte | SXSW 2024 Keynote

Key Takeaways from the Presentation

Evolution of the Internet and Its Impact on Creators

  • The internet has evolved from Web 1.0 (static web) to Web 2.0 (interactive web), facilitating creators to not only consume but to create and reach others.
  • The speaker began creating content in 2007 and leveraged platforms like YouTube to reach an audience.
  • Web 2.0 introduced the "Subscribe" button, which was a game-changer, allowing creators to build a following and distribute their work to subscribers, a foundational concept for creators.
  • True fans (supporters who are deeply engaged with creators' content) play a crucial role in a creator's success.

The Creator's Journey

  • The speaker began as a music artist playing at local bars and evolved into using platforms like MySpace and YouTube to reach a wider audience.
  • Collaboration with his girlfriend Natalie on a YouTube channel (pomplamoose) achieved significant success, gaining followers and creating direct fan engagement.
  • True fans were identified by their willingness to engage deeply, e.g., buying special merchandise or attending unique shows.

The Rise of Ranking Algorithms and Their Consequences

  • Platforms like Facebook started using algorithms to rank posts, which impacted creators' ability to reach their followers.
  • The algorithmic change resulted in creators feeling pressured to create content that appeals to the algorithm rather than their own creative instincts.
  • The speaker fears the 2020s may see the "death of the follower" due to these changes prioritizing algorithms over true connections.

Patreon's Place in the Changing Landscape

  • Patreon was founded to provide a subscription-based platform for creators to monetize their fans' support.
  • Patreon has expanded its services to include video, community, podcasting, a new media player, commerce, free membership, and live experiences.
  • The company aims to build an internet where creators maintain freedom, control, and the ability to thrive in communities.
  • Patreon seeks to focus on direct-to-fan connections, emphasizing depth over sheer numbers.

Advice to Creators

  • Invest in true fans: Build deep connections with the portion of your audience that significantly supports your work.
  • Make beautiful things: Don't solely create for the algorithm, but focus on work that fulfills and excites you.
  • Know what you want: Have clarity about your goals and aspirations as a creator, and work towards them rather than metrics imposed by others.

Conclusion

  • The speaker encourages creators to remember their reasons for creating content and to prioritize their personal objectives and the true connections with their audience.

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