Short-video platforms are ending exclusive deals with influencers. Advertisers are cutting budgets. That means the content-creator world—which allowed people to make money quickly—is changing fast.
A 27-year-old influencer based in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, one of the thousands of full-time content creators across the country, said his income had fallen more than 45% since his contract ended with the short-video app Moj in November 2022.
The content creator was in his early 20s when he got on the Chinese short-video app Tiktok. It took him a while to seriously consider becoming a full-time influencer because making short videos was not seen as a viable career option, despite the lack of other job opportunities. But it allowed him the flexibility to work from his hometown.
Fortunately, for content creators like him, homegrown short-video apps such as Moj, Josh, and MX Takatak burst onto the scene when the Indian government banned Tiktok in June 202o, following clashes at the border with China.
His Tiktok follower base helped him land an exclusive contract with Moj, owned by Mohalla Tech Pvt. Ltd, which also runs the popular Facebook-like social-media platform Sharechat.
The contract earned him roughly Rs 50,000 (~US$610) per month in 2022. All he needed to do was post 30 videos on Moj—where he has a little over 1 million followers. He also had to post 10 videos on US social-media giant Meta’s short-video-sharing app Instagram—where he has over 90,000 followers—to help attract more users to Moj. Additionally, he would often get selected for brand deals that paid about Rs 5,000 (~US$60) per video.
But those days are a distant memory now. He has no exclusive deal with any major short-video platform, as is the case with almost all other creators he knows.
Moj and its domestic rival Josh cancelled thousands of such contracts in late 2022, according to influencers and former employees, as a broader downturn in fundraising forced the companies to conserve cash.
The Ken spoke with eight influencers, three former Josh employees, seven former Moj employees, and six influencer-marketing and advertising executives, all of whom declined to be named because they didn’t want to jeopardise their relationship with the platforms.
Soon, layoffs followed. While Josh’s parent Verse Innovation cut 5% of its workforce—150 jobs—Mohalla Tech sacked over 500 employees, or 20% of its workforce, in the quarter ended December 2022.
Formerly contracted creators across the two platforms are estimated to have since seen their income drop by roughly half, according to the creators and the former employees.