Feb 11, 2021 - Technology

Actors union votes to represent influencers

Illustration of the Instagram logo with the light blinking as if it's recording.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents actors, plans to start representing online influencers as well.

Why it matters: A growing number of online content creators make their living promoting various products on social media. The union says the move will allow people to more easily make a career out of being an influencer and gain access to health care and other benefits.

  • "As new ways of storytelling emerge, it's imperative that we embrace and lift up these artists,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in a press release.
  • In order to become a SAG-AFTRA member, the influencer "must be incorporated as a business" and pay an initiation fee of $3,000 as well as annual dues and 1.575% of their earnings up to $500,000.

The big picture: While mega-influencers on platforms from Instagram to TikTok have become multimillionaires, there's a major income gap between the top earners and most content creators. The gap is particularly pronounced for Black creators.

  • Being able to join a union could mean more power for the talent that much of the social media economy relies upon.
  • The move also comes amid a broader labor organizing push touching various corners of the tech industry.

Disclosure: I'm a member of SAG-AFTRA dating back to my years as a kid actor.

Go deeper