It’s an exploiter economy. Not a creator economy.

Joan Westenberg
@westenberg
Published in
2 min readMay 10, 2024

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The creator economy is a shiny veneer hiding an ugly truth: it has nothing to do with empowering creators. It’s exploiting them for maximum profit.

Tech has sold us a fairy tale that dedicating yourself to your creative passion can be a viable career path in the modern world. But they conveniently leave out the part where they ruthlessly exploit those creators to line their pockets.

Take Spotify, for example. They love to tout how they “support artists” and “give creators a platform.” But when you look at the numbers, the story changes. The average artist makes a measly $0.00348 per stream. Spotify can gobble up billions in revenue while the average musician struggles to afford a latte. Some “support.”

This is par for the course in what I call the Exploiter Economy.

Addiction-optimized platforms that strip away our free time and bombard us with ads. Products designed to extract maximum value from users while returning the bare minimum. And always, the creators get the short end of the stick while Big Tech laughs all the way to the bank.

It’s time to wake up, folks. When someone offers you “exposure” or says they want to “empower creators,” keep a firm hand on your wallet. They’re not your friend, and they don’t care about supporting the arts. They care about money, pure and simple, and they see creators as resources to be exploited.

What’s the alternative?

Support the actual Creator Economy.

Spend your money on platforms that are transparent and fair.

Buy directly from independent artists and creators whenever you can.

Most importantly, create because you love it, not because you think Big Tech will make you rich and famous.

The world needs creators now more than ever. But don’t let yourself be exploited by empty promises and manipulative platforms. Stay true to your craft, be thoughtful about your partnerships, and always remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Exploiter Economy is counting on your passion and idealism to keep the profits flowing.

It’s time for creators to open their eyes and take back control. We need a real Creator Economy based on fairness, transparency, and respect for the autonomy and independence of the artist. The future is ours to create — let’s make sure we’re the ones who own it.

Join thousands of other readers, creators and thinkers who subscribe to @Westenberg — where I write about tech, humans and philosophy.

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