The Great Tip Jar In The Cloud

Read to the end for a "Dungeons & Dragons" thing I learned about recently

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The Great Tip Jar In The Cloud

Earlier this week, Homebrew’s Hunter Walk shared an infographic put together by Kaya Yurieff from The Information, listing all the different platform-based monetization services that have popped up in the last few months. You can read Yurieff’s full piece here. It breaks down which services are offering what and how much they take off the top.

Walk, in his tweet, describes these services as “digital busking,” which I think is really apt. Yurieff in her piece doesn’t make a distinction between services that tip during livestreams and those that do not, but I think it’s useful. Here are the platforms that have just an evergreen tipping mechanism:

  • Twitter has a “tip jar”

  • Clubhouse has “payments”

  • Facebook has “stars,” which I had actually never heard of until I sat down to write this, but it works similarly to Reddit Gold, where users can award creators with stars, which they can convert into real money.

  • OnlyFans has “tipping”

And here are the platforms that have tied their tipping feature to livestreaming:

  • Twitch has “bits”

  • YouTube has “super stickers” and a “view applause” feature

  • Instagram supports “badges” during lives

  • TikTok has “virtual gifts” during lives

There are, of course, more services that allow some form of digital tipping, but these are the big ones. And these features are distinctly different from something like Patreon or Substack, which allow users to set monthly or yearly subscriptions. These are about quick spur-of-the-moment payments.

I’ve been following these developments closely for two reasons: One, I make a living online. And, two, I’ve met very few people working on the internet professionally who don’t dream of eventually not working on the internet anymore. There are some practical reasons for this. The internet doesn’t turn off, there are no seasons, episode orders, volumes, or issues. The money working in traditional media is still much better. Advertising rates for linear TV, even though it’s basically just a stream of pictures and noises that keep old people company, are very good. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you have no ownership over the platforms you’re working for. The dissolution of Vine and the great Facebook Watch pivot layoffs have led to many creators to seriously rethink how they work for one particular platform over another.

In my interview with YouTube creator Brian David Gilbert this week, he was pretty blunt about this: “I don't think it's a secret that I hope that [my YouTube channel] is more of like a stepping stone where I can use this to hopefully be able to get off the internet entirely,” Gilbert told me.

All of this makes the idea of internet platforms making it easier to make money from them directly a curious phenomenon for me.

The great decentralized digital tip jar is being built at a moment where huge platform-agnostic influencers are figuring out how to harness viral popularity to gain crossover success. Hype House members like Addison Rae, Charli D'Amelio, and Chase Hudson realized that a TikTok following can be a launchpad to further fame, not just a career as a TikToker. Which is a departure from the older professional YouTubers or full-time streamers out there.

This newest wave of influencers could quite possibly be the first to escape the internet. Or, at the very least, become bigger than the platforms they use to publish content. This could fundamentally alter the power structures of the web. And I think it’s important context to consider as more and more tech companies roll out their monetization features. These payment features feel like the first public acknowledge that creators will not just keep posting for free.

And, as always, I am both optimistic and deeply nervous about all of this. Part of me thinks that more tipping features could lead to more mid-level creators harnessing the internet to create great content across multiple platforms as full-time careers. But another part of me thinks what is more likely is that the ultra-influencers at the top, capable of pulling in hundreds of millions of views, will soon have infinite revenue streams at the finger tips, while everyone else will effectively become content gig workers, posting for micro-transactions, trapped inside algorithmic systems they have no actual ownership of. Excited to see how things shake out!


A Good Tweet


Can Archive Of Our Own Run Doom?

The answer is yes!

So this is super cool. It was created by Andrew Sillers and it’s exactly what it looks like. It’s Doom, but it runs inside of an Archive Of Our Own post. If you click through to try and play it, it may take a few tries to get it to load right. It’s not just YOU playing it, but everyone on the page trying to play at once. Here’s the Github page for the project.

I’ve written before about the ongoing quest to find weirder and weirder things that can run a copy of Doom. Here’s a guy who figured out how to play Doom using potatoes as a power source.


The Twenty One Pilots Theory Of Wearable Online Audio

On Wednesday, I wrote about how platforms like TikTok and Myspace have “wearable audio,” where users can share music as a way to express themselves. This stands in contrast to the recent explosion of “social audio” products like Clubhouse, which I don’t actually think fulfill the most social need for audio: sharing it! Myspace had the profile song, which was sort of like the audio file equivalent of a bedroom poster or band T-shirt, and TikTok has taken that concept even further, allowing users to slap any kind of audio on to their videos. This has led to an explosion of music that I’ve been calling TikTokcore — raspy, over-processed vocals, melodramatic lyrics, sub bass hits, washed out synths or guitars, and trap hi hats.

Interestingly, almost none of the tracks on Olivia Rodrigo’s extremely good new album fit this description! “good 4 u” sort have has a TikToky vibe, but not really. But the fact that what is assuredly about to be the biggest pop record of Gen Z doesn’t lean heavily into this kind of music may mean that it’s just a weird flash in the pan.

But as I was writing about TikTokcore and wearable audio on Wednesday, I had completely forgotten about Tumblr. Audio blogs were huge on the platform a few years ago and they absolutely produced their own online music scene, which resulted in a few huge acts, most notably, the absolutely rabid fandom around Twenty One Pilots. Which seems to further add proof to the idea that when young users can share audio with each other, things start to get kind of Hot Topic-y, but also broadly more interesting.

If you’re looking to go further down this rabbit hole, we did a whole episode on it on my podcast this week!


The Linda Lindas Absolutely Rip

Meet The Linda Lindas. They’re absolutely kick ass. Even cooler, they’re wearing shirts from Tees4Togo, which donates 100% of its proceeds to helping send girls to school in Dapaong, Togo.


A Japanese Wrestler Talks To Cats

This came across my radar thanks to Fanbyte contributer Emily Pratt, who tweeted about it earlier this week. This YouTube channel belongs to Jun Akiyama, a professional wrestler from Japan. According to Pratt’s tweet, and this post on Reddit’s r/SquaredCircle, Akiyama’s channel’s main focus is, uh, talking to cats? It’s titled, "Explo-meow,” which is play on the wrestling move exploder suplex.

It’s unclear exactly how earnest this channel is. From the video’s description, “Is it serious? or gags..? Watch his unexpected side you never see in the ring! Upload every Saturday at 18:00.” But he’s posted two videos so far though and they’re both about him translating cat meows. The past year has really helped a lot of people really figure out what they care about most in life.


A Real Good Slam Jam

It’s very rare to come across a Slam Jam remix that really stands above the rest. There are just simply too many and it’s hard to really pick out the good ones anymore. I actually wanted to share my favorite here with you today, but sadly it seems like it was copyright struck a few years ago. It was called “Transatslamjamticism” and it was the Space Jam theme mashed up with Death Cab For Cutie’s “Transatlanticism”. It was surprisingly good! I think I still have it on a hard drive somewhere.

Anyways, this one that’s been bouncing around Twitter this week is great and weirdly emotional?


The End Of Live Stream Court

I wrote about this Zoom court before. This was the judge that had the livestream hearing where a guy showed up with the display name “Buttfucker 3000”. The judge’s name is Jeffrey Middleton and he works in St. Joseph County, Michigan. He’s had several clips go viral over the last few months, and not always for funny reasons.

He announced this week that he would not longer be livestreaming court sessions. It’s been an interesting experience to watch play out. I suspect we’re due for a larger reckoning pretty soon about everything that has been streamed and broadcast during our livestreamed pandemic year. In the video above he speaks candidly about how uncomfortable he’s grown with the viral nature of his courtroom videos. Around minute 17, he really gets into the pretty gross entertainment value people are getting from watching some of the court appearances.

“We don’t audition people to come into court, they just come when they come and we try and treat them with respect and dignity,” he says. “We aren’t a casting call for Winter’s Bone, with our methamphetamine problems, we’re just people.”

If you don’t feel like watching the whole thing, there’s a TL;DR on Reddit here.


Hannibal Fan Art Wins A Congressional Art Competition

This was sent to me by my buddy Bijan. I love this. If you didn’t know, there is still a very popular fandom for the NBC show Hannibal on sites like DeviantArt, Tumblr, AO3, and TikTok. It’s also not uncommon for Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lector to be depicted with antlers in fan art , which is based on a common motif from the show. In this piece, it’s Will Graham with the antlers.

Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller tweeted about the Fannibal art getting a congressional award:

And, yes, the painting will be displayed in the Capitol.


The US Government Leaks Sonic 2

Hannibal fan art in the Capitol and the Sonic The Hedgehog movie leaks courtesy of government copyright listings, Biden’s America sure is weird.

Gamespot wrote about this this week. A very detailed synopsis of a sequel to Sonic The Hedehog: The Movie was posted to the U.S. Copyright Office Catalog’s website.

So what do we have instead for Sonic 2? Well, it sounds like we’re getting Tails, Knuckles, and the Chaos Emeralds:

After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is ready for more freedom, and Tom and Maddie agree to leave him home while they go on vacation. But, no sooner are they gone, when Dr. Robotnik comes back, this time with a new partner, Knuckles, in search for an emerald that has the power to both build and destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands. Being directed by Jeff Fowler, and starring Jim Carrey, James Marsden, and Ben Schwartz.

As one person tweeted at me about this put it: The U.S. Copyright Office chuckled. "You mean the Chaos Emeralds?"


My Dad Made A Bootleg Garbage Day Shirt

Hi everybody! A few weeks ago, my dad decided he wanted a Garbage Day shirt, but didn’t want the one that I had commissioned. So he made his own design and worked with a local printer to make a bunch for himself. And he’s been hounding me ever since to “let the readers decide” which one is better. I have unfortunately caved and put the original Garbage Day shirt up on an online store along with his design. My dad also insisted we do a photoshoot. (Also, don’t worry, after we took these photos, I decided it was time for a hair cut.)

If you wanted a Garbage Day shirt last time around and missed out or, for some reason, want to order my dad’s bootleg version, you can head over here. I’ve set up an online store, where I’ll be putting Garbage Day merch. My dad wants a coffee cup, but I said I’d only make one if his shirt sold well.


P.S. here’s a Dungeons & Dragons thing I learned about recently.

***Any typos in this newsletter are on purpose actually***