Why are Atlanta-based Black Influencer Collectives Swapping Their Co-op Houses for Studios?


From Los Angeles to Silicon Valley, there’s a trend for social media influencers and startup founders alike: moving into a mansion with a dozen collaborators, working together around the clock to build fame and fortune, and hoping your new roommate washes up bowl. But in Atlanta, the nation’s fast-growing tech hub, a group of black creators have reimagined the idea. What if an influential collective could actually collaborate, instead of feeding a frustrating Netflix reality show?

a well-known Influencer Collective, Collab Crew (previously known as Collab Crib) has had a tumultuous few months since TechCrunch met them at VidCon.Founder Keith Dorsey resign Focused on his mental health, appointed Robert Dean III (@robiiiworld) take the lead. Why change the name? Unfortunately, they’re no longer “Cribs” – their Atlanta area home was sold, so they couldn’t renew their lease.

Now, Collab Crew is trying to make the most of the situation. Khamyra Sykes does not live together in Fayetteville, just outside Atlanta, but (@queenkhamyra), Chad Epps (@chadio), Kalyn Castell (@kaelynkastle), Tracy Billingsley (@traybills) and other collaborators are launching Collaborative Studio ATLLocated just minutes from downtown Atlanta, Collab Studio ATL describes itself as “a one-stop shop for technology-based content creators, HBCU students and young entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals.”

16-year-old Sykes has already been honoured Forbes 30 Under 30 List with other Collab Crew members Theo Visser and Castell. But she was so young that she did not live in a collective home. Now, she’s excited to work in a studio, which is more business-focused than a house that doubles as a living space.

“my company Putta crown is on it There are opportunities to take classes, do promotional shoots and more,” Sykes told TechCrunch via email. “I feel the studio has the potential to be a great place for creators like me to thrive. A studio is far more productive than a commercial and content house. “

By moving away from the “influencer house” model, Collab Crew can also expand to more BIPOC creators and entrepreneurs in the Georgia capital.

Currently, the studio is partly funded by partnerships with Monster Energy and Snap’s 523 plan, which supports small content companies and creators from underrepresented groups. There is an application process and fees for members joining Collab Studio ATL, but the group hopes these fees will be subsidized by partners in the future — they say the application process is more about assessing the need for entrepreneurs or creators and what services they need from space. The price of membership depends on the resources applicants are looking for, whether that be marketing, help connecting with potential brand partners, or use of studio space.

At the time of publication, members estimated that using the workspace would cost $25 a day, while using the studio would cost between $150 and $250 an hour. Monthly memberships range from $85 to $250, depending on how often members want to book studios.

Collab Studio ATL says the goal of its application process is not to turn people away, but to ensure that new members are well integrated into the community. They also plan to build a professional music studio and soundstage.At launch, core Collab Crew members were welcomed by partners such as filmmakers Geelong GriffinCreative Director Elijah Brown and publicist Brandy Merriwether.

The group says they draw inspiration from similar community-oriented tech incubators in Atlanta, such as Russell Centre for Entrepreneurship Innovation, Propulsion Center and meeting pointbut Collab Studio will be more focused on the entertainment industry.

Image Source: Robiiiworld (Brandy Merriweather via BStarPR)

The new studio could help inspire a group of creators who have found success despite serious obstacles.

Black influencers and startup founders alike face systemic barriers to their growth.Just like black founders are unfairly overlooked in venture capital, black content creators have their job theft and Reduce brand deals Research shows that than white creators.

in a Record Regarding Collab Crew, Kastle even said she dyed half of her hair pink because she felt the TikTok algorithm was more likely to appear in her videos when it saw brighter colors. It’s hard to substantiate this particular claim because the TikTok algorithm is so vague, but Kastle is justified in worrying about how she might be unjustly repressed on the platform — as it has happened before.

For example, post on TikTok with hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd during the racial justice protests in the summer of 2020 seems to have 0 comments. TikTok later for what it called “technical failure,” but black creators continue to express concerns about their repression on the platform. A year later, Ziggy Taylor Showcase In a TikTok video, TikTok’s creator market won’t let him say “Black Lives Matter,” but it will let him say “support white supremacy.” Again, TikTok Apologize. (The platform claims an error occurred because Taylor’s post also contained the word “audience” with the letters “dead” — combined with the word “black,” which triggered TikTok’s automated content moderation).

We’ve got to work five times as hard to get to the bare minimum on any platform,” said Dean, a 31-year-old filmmaker who and his younger colleagues have been discovering that their white peers are earning the same jobs Frustrated when they have more money than they do.

“I work with a friend of mine who happens to be white and we talk because we are both involved in the same event […] They obviously get paid more than I do,” said Epps, 23, who has more than 7 million TikTok followers. “It makes me very sad that black creators and the black community are underrepresented and underpaid. But then again, it fueled my fire and kept me going. “

Image Source: Queen Camilla (Brandy Merriweather via BStarPR)

One Recent reports from The Washington Post Support the claim that black creators are underpaid. The creators said it found that TikTok rival Triller specifically recruited black creators as partners, but failed to meet its promise to pay them. As Triller withheld wages, some creators said they lost their homes and fell into debt, the report noted — but Triller still plans to go public through an IPO in the fall. As part of the deal, some creators — including members of Collab Crew — were supposed to get a financial stake in the company. But for now, it’s unclear whether that will materialize.

Collab Crew sent TechCrunch an email when asked about their reaction to the Triller investigation statement, but declined to say if or how its members were affected. Collab Crew did say that they wanted creators who didn’t receive the promised money to get paid.

“Collaboration of execution, ethical integrity, truly ethical business practices, and continued investment in BIPOC creators and businesses can ultimately bridge the gap,” their statement said. statement Say.

The philosophy of “continuous investment” is key to the way Collab Crew wants to run its studios, providing long-term support for members’ growth. Companies such as TikTok, Meta, YouTube and Snapchat have launched programs to provide funding and resources to select black creators, and that quick capital can be useful — but Dean argues that inequality is worse on these platforms.

“Some of these programs are cool, but it’s like, after that? Some of these white creators are ready for the algorithm,” he told TechCrunch. “Black creators have a harder time even starting YouTube than the average white creator.”

Whether living in the same house or working together in their new studio, Collab Crew maintains the same strategy of giving Black creators the opportunities they deserve: collaboration and mutual support.

“We all teach each other […] We have strong platforms and weak platforms, but if we are all together, everyone will be great,” Sykes explained.

“As with other groups, everyone is thinking of themselves, and it’s more of a team effort,” Dean said.





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