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Europe’s creator economy is thriving — and just getting started

  • By Pedro Pina
  • Head of YouTube Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • Dec.08.2021
Europe’s creator economy is thriving — and just getting started
In 2020, the total contribution of YouTube’s creative ecosystem to the EU27 GDP was €2.38 billion — behind that number are stories of people earning a living and supporting their families through this new economy.

YouTube is the birthplace of the creator economy — a diverse mix of people based in communities across the world, using the open platform to share their passions and earn a living in the process. Every day, they provide community, connection, entertainment, and new skills to a global audience of two billion fans.

This creator economy only started in 2007, when YouTube began sharing revenue directly with creators through the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Just 14 years later, there are more than two million creators around the world in YPP.

YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported 142,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the EU.

YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported 142,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the EU, and the total contribution of YouTube’s creative ecosystem to the EU27 GDP was 2.38 billion.

The European creator economy is a big part of this, sharing the continent’s culture, languages, and creativity with audiences around the world. To get a clearer sense of how our creative ecosystem connects with communities every day, we asked the experts at Oxford Economics to assess the impact of this new economy across the European Union (EU).

The research showed that even in 2020 — against a backdrop of lockdowns and widespread economic disruption — YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported 142,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the EU. In fact, the total contribution of YouTube’s creative ecosystem to the EU27 GDP was €2.38 billion — almost as much as the EU’s generous Creative Europe fund.

Behind these big numbers are the stories of people in communities across Europe, earning a living and supporting their families through this new economy.

People like Jonna Jinton, who lives in the forests of Northern Sweden, posting videos of her paintings, music, and lifestyle. Jonna employs a full-time team to support the channel and virtually all of her customers come from YouTube. Through her content, Jonna has inspired many fans to travel to her home country to experience Swedish culture for themselves.

Or people like German creator Sally Özcan, who turned the success of her wildly popular channel, Sallys Welt, into her own product line, cookbooks, online shop, and flagship store. Sally now employs more than 100 people.

People from all backgrounds are also finding a place to belong on YouTube, seeing themselves reflected in the platform’s content. On channels like Gewitter im Kopf, friends Tim and Jan share the daily experiences of living with Tourettes. Or Belgium-based Amber Ansah who shares her journey of growing out healthy, naturally curly hair.

In the EU, over 29,000 channels have over 100,000 subscribers, an increase of over 20%, year over year. It is a new, exciting economy that’s going from strength to strength as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

This research is published as European Union policymakers finalise new rules for the internet. They are working to make it better and safer for all of us, through the new Digital Services Act (DSA).

But creating these rules isn’t easy. There are some positively intended proposals that could harm the EU’s creative ecosystem.

Take recommendation systems, for example. They’re the reason a lot of people discover content they love on YouTube and how creators like Sally and Jonna who make that content build an audience and earn money through the platform.

Some DSA proposals would weaken recommendation systems for online platforms. Although done with the best of intentions, this will make it harder for today’s creators to earn money online and could even turn off the creators of tomorrow.

It is a place where European talent of all backgrounds can find a stage, connect with fans, gain recognition, and build a business.

We know that everyone involved in this debate wants Europe’s creative ecosystem to succeed and keep on growing as much as we do. After all, it is a place where European talent of all backgrounds can find a stage, connect with fans, gain recognition, and build a business. Let’s not put that at risk.

There is tremendous potential for the future. If all platforms shared revenue with creators the way that YouTube does, a well-supported creator economy could rival Hollywood in economic impact and job creation, just as it does in cultural influence.

This new economy of creative entrepreneurs is already enriching people’s lives across the world. Yet at just 14 years old, I feel like it’s only just getting started.

Take a look at the new report to find out more about the people and the stories behind the numbers.