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Instagram begins testing monetisation options for creators

By | Published on Thursday 28 May 2020


Instagram has announced that it is testing some ways that creators on the social media platform can share in some of the money that they help the Facebook-owned business make. This will be built around livestreamed videos – which have seen massive growth during lockdown, of course – and its stupid IGTV longform video thing.

Live videos on Instagram saw a 70% increase between February and March as lockdown measures were introduced, says the company. Many artists and creators who have livestreamed over the Instagram platform have experimented with ways to monetise such activity, but to date there has been no direct option within the Instagram app itself. Now the company is testing a new thing called ‘badges’, which are digital badges fans can purchase during a livestream.

“Badges will appear next to a person’s name throughout the live video”, says the company in a blog post. “Fans who have purchased badges in Live will stand out in the comments and unlock additional features, including placement on a creator’s list of badge holders and access to a special heart”.

So, that all sounds a bit pointless. But people like that sort of nonsense, don’t they? So pointless for the fools that spend money on the new badges feature, but not for the artists and creators who get access to that cash.

Elsewhere, Instagram is moving into more traditional online advertising, placing pre-rolls on videos on IGTV and then sharing ad revenues with creators whose videos carry them.

“IGTV ads will initially appear when people click to watch IGTV videos from previews in their feed”, it says. “The video ads will be built for mobile and up to fifteen seconds long. We’ll test various experiences within IGTV ads throughout the year – such as the ability to skip an ad – to make sure the final result works well for people, creators and advertisers”.

Although Instagram has long been a popular platform for creators of many kinds, including musicians, to date monetisation options have been limited – consisting mainly of different ways to encourage and allow followers to click through to third party sites where items can be purchased. The same is kind of true of sister social network Facebook, of course, which also recently announced plans to help artists monetise live streaming activity.

Of course, if Instagram and Facebook both begin to allow musicians to monetise their livestreams, that will add further complications to the already unclear picture around if and when music is covered by the licences Facebook and other platforms have from the music industry.

Currently, with the boom in artists using livestreaming for home performances, a blind eye is largely being turned to this question, and to those livestreaming platforms that are unlicensed or half licensed. However, if livestreaming becomes an established activity – and particularly one that makes money for artists and social media companies – that eye’s going to become a lot more focussed.