Amazon is taking its low-wage labor model to influencers

Outside of its corporate staff, Amazon has never been known for its high pay. Now it’s extending its low-wage labor to influencers. Last week the company told influencers who make content for its TikTok-like social content platform Inspire that it would pay between $25 and $50 per video that features two-plus Amazon products, according to screenshots viewed by Fortune

This has been met with backlash from creators, first reported by Bloomberg. “Lol Amazon can go find someone else to play that game,” wrote one creator on X. This is because most user-generated content creators (people who make social videos about Amazon products and beyond) have a base rate of $150 per video, Kyndhal Stewart, who is both a UGC influencer and coach, tells Fortune.

“Whenever you’re trying to convince someone to accept something that’s hundreds of percent lower than their normal rate, it’s very jarring,” says Stewart. “With Amazon, they’re like, ‘The payout is small upfront, but the video lives on Amazon. So you have a greater potential to make money in the long run.’ I definitely think that they should be paying creators more, being a multibillion-dollar conglomerate. And I really hope that we’re able to get a better influencer payout structure in the future.”

While established creators like Stewart balk at the rate, setting market bottom rates for labor is, in part, how Amazon has established itself as a $1.3 trillion company. In New York City, Amazon pay starts just above the city’s $15 minimum wage, at $16 per hour for warehouse work, per ZipRecruiter. Just a few years earlier, according to a 2015 report, Amazon’s wages were 15% lower than the prevailing wage for comparable work in 11 metropolitan areas. By making these jobs easy to obtain and easy to abandon, Amazon undercut competition—causing other stores with higher-priced products and labor to close, ultimately forcing low-skilled workers to accept Amazon jobs. (This is basically the plot of Nomadland if you’re looking for a good read on the topic.) 

Is the 1.6 million-person company now doing the same in the creator economy? The company is accepting 35,000 videos by Sept. 22 for payouts at $25 or $50 per video at a maximum of 250 videos per creator. Stewart reports that the company capped the previous iteration of this program at 5,000 videos overall so it’s fair to assume that Amazon aims to increase its foothold in the creator economy. 

While creators publicly shake their fists at payouts that can’t even equate to funding two Sweetgreen salads, given the variability of payments from rival platforms, Amazon’s offer may be compelling for smaller-scale influencers. In July, Meta cut promised creator payments on Reels by thousands of dollars without warning. TikTok has replaced the Creator Fund with a seemingly more lucrative Creativity Beta Program on longer-form content while YouTube is doubling down on Shorts payouts. Still, these programs all pay on views—so a program like Amazon’s, where creators earn regardless of their view counts, may be appealing. 

Plus, on top of the $25 to $50 payments from Amazon, creators earn about a 3% commission on sales from their Amazon Inspire videos. Commissions for top creators can really add up. Inspire influencer Brooke JuLyn told Fortune she generates between $5,000 to $50,000 per month from this income stream. The option to make passive commission-based income makes the $25 per video payment more palatable for creators like Stewart. 

“With Amazon, you can do a lot more simple formats,” says Stewart. “Because people who are going on Amazon are already going there with the purpose of shopping, you don’t really have to sell them too much.”

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