After the controversy over TikTok alleging copyright over some of the content posted on its website, the Chinese app claimed in its response to the questions raised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) that it “does not charge creators to create content, nor does it interfere with or regulate content creation on the web.”
Nevertheless, it said it interacts with “many users who can support the platform and teach other users how to create the most value of the resources on the platform,”.
As per the review by ET of various records, including past and current creator contracts, show that TikTok not only pays creators to upload content to its website but also allows them to make it “viral” by cross-posting it to other leading social media platforms through a “Forwarding Clips Commitment,” as described in these contracts.
Such contracts may include rewards varying from $100 to $200 to as high as $1750 depending on the creator’s popularity, with a minimum commitment of X number of “original videos” (ranging from 10-30) per “term month,” including five Instagram cross-posts with the TikTok logo or watermark.
For these creators, TikTok has four performance levels. While its top-tier creator can earn up to $1750, level 2, 3, and 4 creators would earn $1150, $550 and $250 respectively. According to the records, this category is based on “rating ratings,” an internal metric that counts “full Talent of the month video views.”
Such contracts are not signed with every TikTok creator but with very few prominent creators, who are part of India’s over 200 million active monthly user base. ByteDance doesn’t announce these figures or how it deals with creators, but some people who are familiar with the topic told that this figure might be in the “thousands” or the top 10 percent of TikTok creators in India.
This trend tends to be adopted by other Chinese short video sites, the business model of which relies on creators creating viral videos and the user spending time on them. Likee, a TikTok competitor owned by live streaming company Bigo Live, “paid creators between $80-$150 anywhere should his / her video become famous on the web,” according to a prominent South Indian-based founder.
ByteDance defends these practices as part of the “traditional marketing practices” it calls.