Created Economy 10: Antonio Gary, Jr. / Spore

A conversation with Antonio Gary, Jr. of Spore.

Created Economy 10: Antonio Gary, Jr. / Spore

Deep Dive
A conversation with Antonio Gary, Jr. of  Spore.


  • Gregarious Narain (@gregarious)
  • Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung)


  • Antonio Gary, Jr. (@antoniogaryjr)


Gregarious Narain  0:39
I need to fix that video but hey...

Ken Yeung  0:42
Should have kept that music going, man.

Gregarious Narain  0:44
You know, I can't loop all these things yet. Do I look like an audio engineer to you.? Alright. Well, welcome back everyone to the Created Economy. This is our weekly interview show where we connect you with people from the creator ecosystem. This is our weekly interview series that we hold on Wednesdays and we'll be interviewing voices and players in the creative economy at large. The goal is to discuss key topics impacting the growth of the creative economy as we know it. We do go live on Wednesdays at 2 pm Pacific time and you can find out more over at That's our official show page. We also stream on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Clubhouse, and Twitter Spaces. So you could join with audio or video, you pick your poison. We also do post longer-form content and notes over at our website at So this is an interactive show, we do encourage and welcome your questions by all means. So at any time, if you have a question, leave it in the comments down below, DM us on Twitter or Clubhouse and we will get do our best to try to get to your questions as well or bring your voice into the equation whenever we get a moment to do so. So let's dive into it. Ken, how are you been?

Ken Yeung  1:54
I'm good. I mean, we've hit number ten. Ten episodes. and we haven't killed each other,

Gregarious Narain  2:02
Is this really ten? Wow.

Ken Yeung  2:03
This is ten. Ten.

Gregarious Narain  2:06
I guess that that means we're pot committed now to this.

Ken Yeung  2:11
Isn't there a thing where if you do it more than a certain amount number of times, it's no longer becomes just a fad? It's actually become a pattern or a habit or something like that. There's some magic number or something like that, and I think...

Gregarious Narain  2:25
Habitually signing up for this level of work and effort could mean, basically, that we are crazy people.

Ken Yeung  2:32
I know, we're just in different parts. And we're used to hanging out every week. But this is kind of a weird excuse to have that happen, you know, for us to dedicate an hour of time to talk about stuff.

Gregarious Narain  2:45
It absolutely is. I will say that much for sure. All right. Well, let's get into it because we got a very fun guest from a very fun startup with us today. And I know we got a lot to do. In case you missed it. Last week, though, we did split our show into two parts now as we actually will record twice a week. Wednesdays is our interview where we'll be bringing you, players, from the space and the ecosystem, give you a chance to meet the founders and the creators in our industry. Also on Fridays, we'll be having our full news carpet. So feel free to tune back in on what on Friday at 8 am Pacific time if you want to catch the news.

So welcome back. As Ken mentioned, this is Episode 10. July 28, 2021. Welcome back. Yeah, as I mentioned, we do have our two shows now. So feel free to tune in whenever for whichever kind of content you want. But hopefully, it is both of them. You can follow us, by the way over on YouTube: created economy, we'd appreciate it, we'd like to get to 100 subscribers because that means that we're on our way to 1000 subscribers, you know, we want to monetize, right? We want those super thanks. And the super tips and the super chats and super stickers, all the fame and glory that comes from, you know, having a thousand subs, if not I'm going to make Ken buy us subs.

Ken Yeung  4:00
Why do I gotta go buy them?

Gregarious Narain  4:04
I don't want to be the one who gets in trouble for buying subs. So you do it.

Ken Yeung  4:07
I mean, you know, we need to have an expert on the show to help us figure out how to monetize these things. Because honestly, like between the two of us...

Gregarious Narain  4:13
You would think that with all the guests we've had that someone would have told us how to actually get some subs.

Ken Yeung  4:19
Well, maybe Antonio can help us out with that.

Gregarious Narain  4:21
Okay, we'll ask him after. Then we got the @CreatedEconomy on Twitter. We've also we're on Twitch a  Created Economy. And we're also on Flipboard @CreatedEconomy. And by the way, that's an important place for you to go because all of the links that we review on a weekly basis get shared over there. So it's a good place to find all the news. But of course, our Twitter account pushes them out in real-time as well. So this week, we are excited and pleased to have Antonio Gary Jr. Interesting story/backstory. I actually came across Antonio A long time ago when I was researching like folks in the creator space before he was actually at this company called Spore. And I found his newsletter a long, long time ago and I was like, Man, this guy's got really cool content, started following him. And so I'm excited that to actually be able to have a chat with him now because like, you know, it's nice when you meet your heroes, right? And so I'm really excited to have Antonio with us today. And so without further adieu, let's bring them in on stage. How are you doing?

Antonio Gary Jr.  5:14
What's up party people, I'm doing good. And I didn't know you knew about the newsletter?

Gregarious Narain  5:20
I knew about the newsletter way before and was like "why does this name sound so familiar?" And I'm like, wait a minute.

Ken Yeung  5:27
Now it comes full circle.

Antonio Gary Jr.  5:28
It really, really does. And it just shows you that the creator space is growing. But it's good to meet people that you've been following and whatnot. So appreciate the support there.

Gregarious Narain  5:38
Oh, for sure. And, you know, it also shows just I think that how early we are still in the life of our space, right? Like, yeah, because they're, you know, like, why did Ken and I start doing this show? You know, we didn't think there were enough people talking about the economics and the other parts of it going on. And there were a lot of people talking about more people talking about creator economics, like from the creator's point of view. Yeah, but not the other side, right. Like all of us wackos trying to build stuff to support creators, right like that. That was sort of like a whole different universe that we thought was not quite covered yet. So we're pretty excited to have you here. And we've got a bunch of questions. And first, tell us who you are real quick. Just do a quick intro for yourself. So everyone knows who they're hearing right now?

Antonio Gary Jr.  6:22
Yeah. So my name is Antonio Gary. I'm head of business development at Spore. And then currently writing a newsletter called Creator Crew. It comes out every Wednesdays and Fridays. And then before that, I've had numerous roles in marketing sales, back at VaynerMedia. BET, and also product at a small college. So I've had my way around the block. And I've always been a creator. So before the newsletter, I was running a hip-hop blog back when bloggers were cool. And you know, Tumblr was a thing. That's no longer the case.

Gregarious Narain  6:55
Bloggers were never cool.

Ken Yeung  7:01

Antonio Gary Jr.  7:02
Shots fired.

Gregarious Narain  7:04
I was a blogger since 2003.

Ken Yeung  7:04
No no, you were never a blogger. Antonio, you and I are going to have this conversation and not talk to Greg. I mean, that there's a lot of haterade over there. You know, we'll do

Antonio Gary Jr.  7:15
You do that you focus on buying the followers.

Gregarious Narain  7:19
Don't even front we know that we like bloggers were never cool. Come on.

Ken Yeung  7:23
Oh, wow.

Antonio Gary Jr.  7:25
There were so many good blogs. But hey, everything comes full circle.

Gregarious Narain  7:29
Wait wait wait, I didn't say they were good. I said they weren't cool.

Antonio Gary Jr.  7:33
All right. All right. Well, we'll have to see about that one.

Gregarious Narain  7:39
I'm only playing. There was...

Antonio Gary Jr.  7:40
Yeah, whatever. That hurts, Greg.

Gregarious Narain  7:44
Not Ken, but you know, but, but there were a lot of good bloggers out there.

Ken Yeung  7:50

Gregarious Narain  7:52
For everyone who's only listening, you should see Ken's facial reactions right now. contorting.

Ken Yeung  7:57
You ever, you know that that if you could describe the facial expression in an emoji, it's basically that one with an exploding head. Right now you're like, oh my god.

Antonio Gary Jr.  8:08
I feel like that's a millennial emotion. Now, though. You know, none of the cool kids are using it. So you might be playing into Gregarious.

Ken Yeung  8:14
Okay boomer. Okay boomer.

Gregarious Narain  8:17
You see now the ageism just comes out You see? I don't know anything about that.

Antonio Gary Jr.  8:24
Get off my lawn. Wait, hold on. You don't know.

Are we really talking about the creator economy if we don't mention ageism? Come on.

Gregarious Narain  8:39
Is this the right emoji? Did I do I have?

Ken Yeung  8:43
I don't know. It looks like you have a giant red target on your forehead right now. And I'm like, sure. Yeah, actually, that's the right one. You need to make it bigger, though so it's your entire face.

Gregarious Narain  8:57
I'm still learning how to use

I wish I could put it over Ken's face, actually. But

Ken Yeung  9:08
I'm sorry. That's actually not going to be allowed.

Gregarious Narain  9:09
All right. All right.

Ken Yeung  9:10
Keep going.

Gregarious Narain  9:11
Let's get into it now. Antonio, number one, when you worked at Vayner were you in LA or in New York?

Antonio Gary Jr.  9:17
I was in New York. So I worked at Vayner and then also worked with the Sasha team. So Sasha group is the startup division, the startup SMB division of Vayner

Gregarious Narain  9:25
interesting, I don't know if you know this old small backstory but I used to we used to work out of the Vayner office when it was down in battery like Battery Park area like the first office Well, your OG. Oh, yeah, I came in on the Hudson Yards live so you know, yeah, cuz we knew Gary and, and AJ from way back and yeah. randomly. This is when he had court back way back when?

Ken Yeung  9:49
Oh, that is that as far back.

Gregarious Narain  9:52
that's a throwback. Yeah. And also, at my last company Chute, we used to do work with Vayner. And we had some overlapping products as well. So get to know the whole, the friends as well. So, Ken, you're first.

Ken Yeung  10:08
Alright. So So Antonio, like, why don't we start off with kind of really understanding how like your background, and how did you get to start at Spore and what Spore is and basically, tell people, what is it that you do?

Antonio Gary Jr.  10:28
Yeah. So, so the newsletter, I got really invested in the creative economy. And after leaving Vayner, I went out on my own. And there was one thing that I've always done, and I'd love doing and that was creating content. But what I fell off at the time was being consistent with creating content. So once the blog died down, it was I've always had this knack for writing, but I used to be a YouTuber really early in the day. Oh, wait, I'm dating myself now. And it just and through creating content, I've always found that when you create content, even when you're building a business, it has an ROI that's hard to track, but it just pays dividends. I'm sure you guys know that. So I created a newsletter, I really wanted to have a public journal covering the creator economy and create a space for founders, operators, and creators to be able to stay up to date, and really have a trustworthy source of news every week. And from there, I've just been able to build relationships. And there were ideas and thesis is that I was developing and that was one where, you know creators, there's so many different tools and if you're not a technical creator, it's hard to connect these dots. So if you have a website, you're going to need Zapier for your email, and you're going to have to have another platform to monetize and it gets really difficult to do that. And also when you're one person especially when you're an early-stage creator, you're normally working another job so we're talking about a taxing environment where you're playing a long game so what was great as there's a Discord made by Backseat VC, Jen if you guys are familiar.

Ken Yeung  11:57
Creator of Means. Yes, yeah,

Antonio Gary Jr.  11:59
Means of Creation is the best

Gregarious Narain  12:01
One of the best.

Antonio Gary Jr.  12:02
I cannot say there are so many good things I can say about it. And I remember Austin posting about he was looking for people to join sports.

Gregarious Narain  12:11
Shut up, you got your job from that Discord?

Antonio Gary Jr.  12:13
I got my job from that Discord. And that's why I will I am Jen's number one fan, literally. I tell her that all the time. And it was just, it was weird. I had this I like Austin had this fully built-out idea. And I was like, Listen, I'm picturing this, but you're the technical person, you're able to build this and you have this vision already. So once we started talking, everything just clicked and we've had this idea that listens, the creator economy is being unbundled. But what the reality is, is that creators actually need something that is bundled in the way that we look at that is what would Shopify for creators look like? And that's what we're building.

Gregarious Narain  12:49
Alright, let me ask you a question real quick. Um, or unpack a little bit of that. Now. So when you say creators from you, like, tell me what it means now and what it's gonna mean, I guess, right? And then the Shopify part, it seems to ring to be a little different than I interpret Shopify. So I'm curious how you guys like, Can you explain both terms a little bit just for context?

Antonio Gary Jr.  13:17
Well, so with Shopify, what we're saying is an infrastructure for content creators, and the term creator is very broad, we know that there's a huge umbrella. And that's why we identify an area to focus on. So when we first started out, we were working exclusively, exclusively with Clubhouse creators. Since then, we've decided that it's not just Clubhouse, there are podcasters, you're on Twitter Spaces right now. So it's that audio creator and focusing on giving them an infrastructure, that they're able to build an audience, share their content, share their episodes, organize their links, and expanding upon that. We're in the early vision of our company, but where we see it is that we're going to give creators the flexibility that they'll be able to own their brand, as well as their content in one place.

Gregarious Narain  14:01
Okay, so that the Shopify part is the infrastructure around commerce, I guess, like conceptually or like around customer management, commerce, and I guess, maybe fulfillment? Is that like, do you think that's part of the I guess some of the digital fulfillment you kind of already do right?

Antonio Gary Jr.  14:19
Yeah. So fulfillment as far as the merch, that they that's on a long term mission, but right now, it's just when you look at Shopify, it's they create an infrastructure for e-commerce, e-commerce merchants that's extremely flexible. So whether or not you want to use their platform, you can still plug into other tools. When we look at it from Spore, what we're building is a way for you to own your audience what we mean by that, and this is something we talked about a lot. It's, you know, being able to collect emails, SMS, having that audience, and being able to take it where you are. We're the platform powering creators, but we want to make sure there's that flexibility that they can accomplish what they want. And that's how we look at that as far as on the infrastructure. And when we look at Shopify, there's real flexibility there. And that's what we're trying to build for creators that we don't see out there.

Ken Yeung  15:02
So you're giving these creators basically the tools to set up an online presence, to connect with brands, or monetize their working in through ads or whatever, and further connect with, you know, to what we're looking at a screen like with their super fans and kind of really it's almost like it's not necessarily a Shopify per se, but it's a Shopify meets a Weebly/Squarespace meets Salesforce type of MC all mixed into one right it but specifically in this so-called social audio space, would that be a fair description?

Antonio Gary Jr.  15:41
That's a ball way of explaining different sites up so...

Gregarious Narain  15:45
You could tell who the writer is

Antonio Gary Jr.  15:49
Less is more so we say we say that since Shopify, what we mean by that is the flexibility to the infrastructure where you're able to get up and running and own your brand, on your content on your audience. So you'll be able to bring everything in one place, and that's something that we hit home with because you see the current environment. If you want to set up a website, you know, you build on Webflow, you got to plug in Zapier to MailChimp. Then you also have to maybe plug in a privy for an email capture it gets it gets tough, it gets taxing and if you're not familiar with Zapier and that background, it's really hard to manage that. And let's not forget, it's expensive.

Gregarious Narain  16:23
So I think I remember originally like Josh Constine was probably the first time I Press Club I think was the first time I saw a Spore site. And, by the way, so my platforms Zealous, the same thing. We kind of started with Clubhouse, but we quickly kind of went away from Clubhouse...

Antonio Gary Jr.  16:45
Which was great. I saw it's a great-looking platform. I checked it out. I love it.

Gregarious Narain  16:49
Oh, thanks. Yeah, well, we'll have to set up some time to show each other, the tools. But the thing that I thought was interesting, or I noticed that you guys sort of are focused on podcasters now or it seems, I think there was a thread of this earlier, like, like podcasts was like an early use case. I'm curious, like, do you feel like there's a lot of unmet need in the podcasting space? Like, like, Why are podcasters you think like a good starting point and in the ecosystem today?

Antonio Gary Jr.  17:19
So when you look at Spore, the creator economy's broad, creators are broad, and we look at Spore, there are a lot of use cases, but who can we provide value immediately. And when we first started, Austin, working with Josh created Press Club and create that website for an audio creator. So the logical step for us was clubhouse is is going through a phase right now that's a bit challenging. And for our company, we see that the value is that podcasters are going to, one, got one of the live audio but they're also going to still want to be podcasters are so for us that was the logical step for us to be able to provide value for that. So it's how do we create value for podcasters in one place? And how do we continue to refine that and expand upon that?

Ken Yeung  18:02
So would you see Spore branching off into other areas, to other focuses that creators might be interested in the future? And I get the intrigue with podcasting, with social audio. But what about with those that are writers those are that are doing stuff on tik tok or other forms of media would that be something that is on a potential run runway for Spore?

Antonio Gary Jr.  18:32
Absolutely. And when you look at it, a TikTokker, YouTuber can easily start useless for and while they might not be a podcast that doesn't limit them from being able to benefit from the platform, specifically around, we already have the ability for you to send text messages, collect emails, and send emails. So you'll be able to do that. And those are areas that we're finding, we're refining, but we don't we're not in a place where newsletters creators are going to be able to get the full benefit from our platform exclusively. We're getting there. But right now it's going to be for those podcasters. And even for the like, again, for TikTokkers, YouTubers, they'll easily be able to set up a spore. And if they wanted to organize their links, show their most recent content, they'll be able to do that as well as being able to collect contact info. So instead of it just being 20,000 links, and we've all seen Link In Bios look like this. It's an actual website that they'll be able to get up and running. And the best part about it is it's free to use so there's no barrier to entry there for them. And we love to expand upon that. After we provide value to podcasters which as we merely want to be able to you know we want to help one group of creators first because if you can't help the one you're not going to be able to help them all.

Gregarious Narain  19:38
I hear you on that. it makes a lot of sense. Well and also I think um maybe you can help share some facts about podcasters just like the space or you know some of the things you know or facts you know, for the audience just like on the girl I know it's grown tremendously. Do you have any info that you can share with us?

Antonio Gary Jr.  19:54
I won't be able to quote the numbers on its growth but I would say this is that the podcast, the podcast, is very tough. And you posited it yourself earlier that the CEO of Spotify doesn't look at podcasts being able to monetize the same way. So it's, you know, it's a challenge. So first of all, discoverability is a big problem. And then when you look at the podcast base, a lot of them are still relying on ad revenue whereas other creators, we know they're relying on, you know, payouts or ad revenue, but they have, they're more, they're more often going to lean into other products and revenue streams. With podcasting, that's tough. So our first course of action is, let's help them with memberships and give them away where they can get consistent revenue and expand upon that. So most podcasters there, they're battling for downloads, which you and I both know, is not... who downloads podcasts? You know,

Gregarious Narain  20:46
By the way, my son asked to hear a podcast. And so like, what he asked for it, I didn't intuitive we go, he said, Can I? Can I hear a kid's daily stories or something? Right? And I was like, Okay, sure. So I was like, looking it up on YouTube. He's like, no, it's a podcast. I'm like a podcast?

Ken Yeung  21:03
How does he know?

Gregarious Narain  21:05
And he was like, a podcast is when you listen to it. I was like, Oh, all right.

Antonio Gary Jr.  21:12
Future CEO right there.

Ken Yeung  21:15
What are they teaching them in those Thomas, the train engine type of, Yeah, that, you know, the Paw Patrol type of videos, you know, it's like, it's like, oh, Papa, Joe Sharing is caring and download our podcast. Like, wait, what?

Gregarious Narain  21:28
So Antonio, what kind of perks or benefits? Do you see sort of podcasters offering to sort of like their audience? And is your conversion like in the same kind of Patreon style ranges? Like, or are you beating that those kinds of numbers?

Antonio Gary Jr.  21:46
Well, the first thing is we're not, we're not looking at as competition with other platforms, our competition is with ourself, it's, it's the same goal of are we able to provide more value to creators than we were yesterday. And that's our low hanging, that's, that's our metric. Because if we aren't able to do that, we aren't able to build trust, and we're not going to be able to retain those creative. So what I see a lot of people getting wrong is they're rushing the relationship. They're trying to pitch they're trying to get these creators on board right away. And the reality is, is that that might have worked in 2016, creators, you know, creators are businesses, and they're there. They're going through the process, like decision-maker, so it takes some time. So our first goal of action is, you know, a lot of podcasters are monetizing through...monetizing through advertisements. So the way for them to monetize through subscriptions is ad-free episodes. So we're offering not through memberships, but we're really making our memberships as flexible as possible for them to monetize in a way that's unique to them. And then it's as we're building that trust, helping them continue to think outside of the box on what's possible.

Gregarious Narain  22:48
So interesting, quick question there. Um, yeah, so like, with an ad-free, say, version of the podcast would Spore deliver it to the members,

Antonio Gary Jr.  22:56
so they will be able to so they'll be able to do that through sport and what it'll be is a membership and they'll be able to deliver it, there are four of this ad-free episode. Or if they wanted to, you know, have access, one of the unique benefits is for two is that you have your own branded chat. So what you see with a lot of podcast creators is they're using Discord. But what happens is, is that, you know, say you want it to go live, you would have to go on Discord, the benefit of it staying true to that all in one area is that, well, that was two all in one area, you'll be able to manage your chat, to live your episodes and answer questions all in one place.

Ken Yeung  23:33
So in terms of what you're talking about, one of the questions I was going to ask is like, what is what kind of what's your secret sauce in terms of differentiating yourself from the competitors, but what your response just now kind of highlights, I want to dig a little deeper into that, because you're on the front lines of talking to these creators as the head of business development, right? And we have had CEOs, we've had founders on the show, who can talk about the vision of the company, and everything like that. But we know CEOs don't always have time to really get their get down and dirty with the people that are going to be using their customers. So as somebody who talks to creators on a regular basis, and you're hearing a lot about what their problems are, what their plights are, as it relates to podcasting, and monetization, and just setting up a business, right? Is there anything specific that you can share with us about when you talk to these creators, what are their fears? What are their concerns, and when they talk to you and say is this something that can that Spore and help me with and versus other things in the industry? Like what are they seeing in terms of all these different products, these platforms, these services, and like this is not just is not helping me?

Gregarious Narain  24:57
And I'll add to that, I guess what we asked Fernando last week was also like when's the right time for a creator to come to spore, right? Or just, you know, or for super fans like last week? Like, is there a, ideal customer profile kind that you have in mind already? Or, you know, is it open to everybody? And they should start ASAP?

Antonio Gary Jr.  25:13
Well, I was gonna say you had a few questions layered on in there. So

Gregarious Narain  25:17
We don't like to make it easy, c'mon.

Antonio Gary Jr.  25:21
I see I was like, oh, cool, 10 questions. No. The reality is just that any creator can get up and running with Spore, whether you have an audience or not, if you're just starting off, or even if you're a seasoned vet. The benefit is just that if you're on the seasoned side, you might have a website, but you might want something that's able to manage everything in one place. So you could have a website, and then you can also have a Spore, they don't have to be separate, the benefit to the early stage creator is that they really need to just get into the swing of creating content. And they don't need the added stress of managing again, you know, having to integrate tools and managing that in their day-to-day. And we all know that things break. So it's being able to troubleshoot those. It's the fact that they can get up and they can get up and running literally in one minute. And you can set up right now a site, and you'll be a sports website, and you'll be up or running in seconds. And you can it'll take some time to customize it. But you'll be up and running and be able to get started regardless of what size creator you are.

Ken Yeung  26:19
So in terms of like what are they? So those, that's what you would say, the people that you're talking to are saying this is a concern I have in terms of services, right? We have this podcast, we need to grow our audience, we need to monetize it. And sure the low-hanging fruit is to go do some advertising, right. So, you know, we can have this now being sponsored by Grammarly or Squarespace or whatever, right? I mean, there are these things you see all the time. But if you want to branch off and diversify that, that that's, you know that what you just said is something that will that kind of assuage any of these concerns and like, Oh, that makes it easier. I understand it. It's not just this is the same as this one and this one and this one. This is actually what a differentiator is.

Antonio Gary Jr.  27:13
Yeah, so when especially again, on the podcast side, and you'll see this too, in other areas, most creators are starting off monetizing via brand deals. But the problem with brand deals is they're inconsistent. Space has gotten so competitive now that I've seen creators with 2 million followers on TikTok get offered brand deals from you know, few brands, big names, with at $200 a post to $400 a post. That's 2 million followers, I couldn't imagine what it was for someone who's just getting started out. So what people need to understand is is something that Li Jin mentions a lot is just you know, having true fans and that's what we're providing with Spore is we're trying to get you to that point of having enough true fans where you can start seeing that you're generating revenue and being able to see this as a long term play, so that you can have that confidence to stay with it. Because that's the biggest thing is you need to have, you need to have a win. And every creator's first one is having that one person pay $5 a month, $10 a month. And when you see that, you realize the possibilities and that's something that was exciting to me to see. And I know that's the same across the board. It's just it's a win that gives you confidence that hey, I'm on the right path. You know,

Gregarious Narain  28:27
I've been working... I keep threatening to do this post but I haven't finished yet.

Antonio Gary Jr.  28:33
Your Twitter threads are epic. I love it so I'm curious about this post here.

Gregarious Narain  28:40
I tried to find the image from it.

Ken Yeung  28:42
He's not cool. So he can't write it. So yeah,

Gregarious Narain  28:46
I can't I don't have time to write long-form. Come on.

Ken Yeung  28:49
You should try doing a podcast. Apparently, that's a thing.

Gregarious Narain  28:52
Do I look like Hugo to you like? That's, that's Hugo's domain? All right here. So check this out. I'm curious what you think about this, this is sort of the graphic. This is the wrong one, dang. But I've been working on this idea of the generational parts around sort of the creator-like evolution. And let me export the other one. But the theory I have, and I think you just touched on a little bit, Antonio, is sort of that we're seeing more of what I call the bottoms up creator, which is someone in today's generation, sort of starting with the notion or concept of business, a little bit more formally planted inside of their ecosystem, or their mentality. And so, you know, if you look at sort of this bottom matrix, it's sort of like the evolution of like, over time, right? Like, what do we start out we do as a hobby for passion and we move into the career phase. And then we like maybe potentially become a company, right? On the other vertical. It's sort of like what's the aspiration? Right? It's sort of like, do I want to be an influencer? Do I want to be a creator do I want to be a consultant? And what I found is this, is that for the first two generations, like when I was at Klout a long, long time ago, you know, we were we had people who just wanted to be influencers, like they didn't like, necessarily have a special skill, right? Like,

Antonio Gary Jr.  30:18
I want to be famous.

Gregarious Narain  30:19
Yeah, they want to be famous. They were early adopters of a platform, you know, a god thinks about there are some people on even on Clubhouse, say that that got put on the following list and have like, tens of millions of followers now. And they're no more special than anyone else who was there at the exact same time, right? Like they didn't necessarily have any more particular insight, per se. It's a very different thing to like, organically grow up to sort of that area, right, that as opposed to like get there sorted by some other approach. But both that the middle age, sort of the second-gen, the creator space, like when YouTube started kind of using that term as well, even though they were creating things, they were still interested in growing a big audience more so than they were creating these businesses, revenue streams, and lines of business. Like, and over time, what we found is people got smarter, and they started to put more and more out, right? Or started to diversify. Like I think, like creator, like, here's the better version, right? So that orange line is that first clout time, right? Like when people just want to be influencers. That's the second line, the pink line is kind of like where we were in Gen two when creators started to come out, but you still aspired. You couldn't be full-time until you had a big audience. Right? Now we've got this new generation, like, I think two things are happening. One, some creators saying starting I was like, No, I'm gonna start a consult, like I'm doing like what you're saying, I'm gonna have a small audience that's powerful and valuable, right? And what I'm going to do instead, right is, over time, what I want to do is I'm going to build up potentially to a bigger audience. But if I never get to a huge audience, that's okay. Right? There's also tons of these, you know, domain experts, I think that's why Clubhouse was really successful, actually, early on, was that it found it gave space to lots of lightweight and domain experts who might not have been able to actually create, like, maybe, you know, making YouTube videos is hard work, right? Like, making, you know, most social media is actually much harder than like anyone gives credit for right? But Clubhouse made it easy because you could talk and if you were an expert, talking is easy about the thing, you know, right? And without the production work. And so I think like what we found is just that this idea that having the ability to have more consultative work, or better consultative work really means is monetizing customers more so than the audience. Right? Right, like individual relationships as opposed to mass or like access to a large audience, right? That's the fundamental shift. And I think like our ecosystem of tools that you and I are in and that all of our guests have been in, we're really servicing more so this emergent mindset and behavior than the older one, the older one, I don't think is going away. I'm curious, your thoughts, though, right? Like, you know, like, are you gonna help with the brand side to like, so, you know, because it seems like a lot of use cases you described so far. And I'm sure there are others, where people who are running ads, but even having with running ads is it somewhat evolved, whereas in the lifespan of your podcast, right?

Antonio Gary Jr.  33:24
So when I say running brands, when you're running ads with brands is the reality is that that's the first course of action that someone's going to be able to monetize, because it's the default, because it, it's your, it's gonna be tough to even in the beginning, you're not sure the buying power of your audience. So the way for you to be able to get money. And as far as the membership side is that you also don't know how many of these people are going to be subscribing. So you might have 1,000, 1,000 followers, but two people pay you five bucks a month. Meanwhile, a brand will approach me and say, Hey, we'll give you $100 to post this to your page. So for the Creator, the consultant, the creator, they're going to focus on the brand deal first. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that has a ceiling. And we also know that when you do brand deals, there's a lot of gray areas and there's it gets taxing and it also it can damage your brand equity and your relationship with your audience. So, creators after they're doing a good amount of brand deals, they're in a place where they feel confident enough to branch out into memberships. And they see the opportunity there so that the way we see it is brand deals aren't going away. And that's still a revenue stream for creators, but we just want to amplify that by helping them have a membership. So at the end of the day, if they want to just post it on their feed if they want to negotiate higher terms, so they can share it in their chat or share them or either email them SMS, we're giving them that leverage to do that. But we're also giving them the comfort of having consistent revenue, and that's currently throughout memberships.


Ken Yeung  34:55
So, Antonio, there's a way to throw you a little bit of a curveball here. Prior to the show, I came across this article in Axios.

Antonio Gary Jr.  35:04

Ken Yeung  35:05
So Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, did a podcast with Dan Primack, the reporter at Axios. And he had some interesting stuff to say in terms of audience and creators, specifically around podcasting. And I wanted to kind of see if you had any thoughts on that. So, I'm going to try and do this without screwing up entirely. But you never know how technology works these days. So there we go. Alright. So as you can see here, this is just a highlight, you can listen to the entire podcast yourself if you want on Axios' website or on even on Spotify. So let's start with the audience. Right, so Daniel Ek is saying that podcasting is podcast listeners are stickier than that music listeners. And but there's some he doesn't think that the podcast is will overtake you know, traditional music it what are your thoughts in terms of that? Do you think that that starts based on your conversations with creators and your involvement in the podcasting industry? Do you see that what Daniel's saying has validity?

Antonio Gary Jr.  36:15
What I see is a common problem in the industry where we try to pit creators against each other. And, you know, music podcasters are very two different creators, so their audience also has different needs. And you can't compare the two. From his stance, I'm sure he has some data that to help them out with that. But the opportunity I see is that podcasters aren't going anywhere, and they're transcending into, they're not just podcasters, they're live audio creators, it's this hybrid audio creator. And if they want it, they, they can have their they can maybe get to a point where they're selling their content sampled in music. So there, it's going to be a lot of gray area. And we're seeing that creators of all sizes and backgrounds are starting to branch out and, and change. So someone who's just a podcast creator is evolving, and someone who's a music artist is evolving as well. So it's not something that can be can be compared now. It's like apples and oranges.

Gregarious Narain  37:09
It's anecdotal, but I feel like most podcasters are still multi-platform, right? Like maybe not video, but they probably do some kind of abstractions from their content,

Antonio Gary Jr.  37:19
Even on the video side. So podcast discoverability is a huge challenge. And Spotify themselves acquired. I forgot the name of the company that might be Podz, but they acquired a podcast discovery platform. And that's a huge challenge. So you'll see a lot of podcasters they have when I talk to him, the biggest thing is that they're looking for SEO and some form of help with video because we're seeing that short form video is powering the traffic to their podcasts. So now are they a podcaster? Or are they a YouTuber, a podcaster, a tech talker and maybe they repost that to IG Reels, so you can you can't

Gregarious Narain  37:57
It's a Reeler.

Antonio Gary Jr.  37:58
Yeah. That was that was brutal to say. I'm glad you said it. But it's...

Ken Yeung  38:06
The cool people, the cool bloggers can say it clearly, right?

No, no,

Antonio Gary Jr.  38:10
But it's and that's how you have to look at it. It's just that so are they a podcaster or they're multi-faceted. This multifaceted creator that is really just the scrappiness of an entrepreneur that's testing channels trying to grow their platform,

Gregarious Narain  38:26
What it does, that does touch on sort of this idea that I was chatting on earlier, right? Like, you know, when you're an expert or consultant, that term covers everything, you don't have to be a YouTuber, to be you know, like, it doesn't suddenly, like preclude you from being like a different kind of thing, right. And maybe that's what we're moving towards, which I hope is the case because your knowledge, expertise, and skill is, you know, is horizontal, right? Like you can leverage it in lots of different ways and shapes and forums. And so I think like audio is a great starting point for sure. There's a lot of great tools to start a podcast as well. So that I mean, that process is getting easier. I don't know if it's, um, you know, I don't know, to the extent that it's interesting, like this space, like, because we're seeing sort of like a deconstruction of the podcast itself right into you look, things like Racket, etc. Right? Or Clubhouse where we're decomposing, sort of like the long-form audio into much smaller things much like happened with video and text, right? Do you think that whole ecosystem is growing or you know, do you think there's there's a lot left to come here or do you think we've sort of seen you know, what's there?

Antonio Gary Jr.  39:43
I think we're still in the early stages and you know, Clubhouse gets a bad rap, but I'm pretty confident that will bounce back. But I see this opportunity where the barrier of entry, like you, said with Racket, and I'm glad you mentioned it, but I can just plug my headphones in and talk for a few minutes, and I can take that and I could put it on Spotify. And if I wanted to, I could record myself talking and put it on YouTube and put it on TikTok. So

Gregarious Narain  40:08
That's a different Austin, by the way, right?

Antonio Gary Jr.  40:13
I was gonna ask that. I think the CEO is Austin, by yeah, he really built something unique. And I really liked it. It's, it's fun. And I think the connotation previously when approaching long-form podcast is that you know, these podcasters put a lot of work in and they gave them this, this idea that it wasn't fun, but it makes it fun. And creating a podcast is fun. So I like how racket was able to do that and make it really easy to get started and carries interest, you know, curious to see how they grow and what they continue to build.

Ken Yeung  40:49
Yeah. So, Antonio, there's another part of this podcast that Daniel was talking about, in terms of creators specifically. And obviously, this is related to everything that you were talking about in terms of monetization? Let me see if we can't get that back on there. Oh, okay. Let's get that on there. So basically, he's saying, Daniel, doesn't believe that podcast creators will be paid per stream royalties, as Spotify does for music creators. But he does think there's going to be a broadening and acceleration of podcasts monetization options. So I think that's very similar to what you're talking about earlier. And in terms of, you know, as podcasters, the low-hanging fruit is to go after brand deals. But to what Spore's doing is like look, where we can help you out with the brand deals it you know, everything like that. But let's think differently, let's diversify your opportunities, and start with membership. Is there anything that you can say about future monetization options, that Spore might launch to kind of help out with that?

Antonio Gary Jr.  41:54
Well, our goal is just to give podcasters, and creators the opportunity to monetize in a way that best suits their needs. So those needs are going to be different across the board. But, for podcasters, the first thing we need to instill is, you need to get your audience, you need to own that audience, you need to own the relationship. And when you talk to podcasters, this is some area that people miss the mark on is that they don't understand that concept of owning an audience. And the way I repeat that is is if you had to, you know, and not just about but when you if you had to reach out to your followers, and you needed to tell them something, you need to own that relationship. So email, SMS, and what we want to do is first instill that helping them continue to, you know, on board their audience and get them into memberships. And once you get them into that area, you'll be able to, you know, as you're familiar with upselling, so we just want to get them in a place where they're bringing in some revenue, and we're helping them there so that we can take them to that next step. And it takes focus because there are so many ideas that we would love to execute, but right now, it's just let's continue to help them flush out memberships so that they don't have to rely on the inconsistency that comes with brand deals.

Gregarious Narain  43:00
I have a question, actually. One of the things, to your point, I think, I think podcasters in particularly, you know, because their distribution is actually completely sorted of obfuscated, right? Like, you know, if you're on YouTube, at least you're on YouTube, right? Like, you know, like, where you can kind of see some stuff, right? And there's a little bit more of an interactivity model sort of natively to most social platforms, right. Related, I guess, is understanding how to price yourself. Right. So you know, I feel like I'm one of the biggest challenges creators have in particular, they always undervalue their work and the effort that they put forward. Do you have any thoughts are on how to, for maybe creators who are listening? Like how should they think about starting to think about their pricing models like for memberships and things like that? And is that something you guys make recommendations on or anything like that?

Antonio Gary Jr.  43:56
We don't make recommendations there yet. Because what we believe is that creators know their audience best. But with down the line, we would love to get more insights there and seeing on how we can help create is there but what I would say is this is creators drastically undervalue themselves and you see this a lot to going back to your consultant angle where early-stage consultants are notorious for underselling themselves. I remember when I went to the consultant game, and I would sell like a 1k retainer and it took someone to tell me "Oh, you can you can up the price of that." And I was like, there's no way someone would pay 5k and sell on what someone pays that money. It's a mental hurdle that creators have to get over but here's what I always say. It's easier to to reduce the price than it is to raise the price. So skip to a point where you know, I'm not saying you're a creator that you can justify charging $100 a month and maybe you are and you just you have to experiment it but what I would say is, are you providing value? Are you answering the questions and building a relationship with your audience where they are, you know, coming back and loving your content? And don't be afraid to start hot. And if people say, this is absolutely absurd, and no one's paying for it, then you can reduce it. But what you'll find is that what people pay, and what people say they won't pay for are very two different, are two very different things. So don't be afraid to price yourself at a point where you can also make a lifestyle, because you're providing value to your audience. And if you're not able to make a living, you won't be able to provide that value. So start on the higher end, don't you know, make it too crazy, be confident, test it. And if you need to reduce it, reduce it, but it's always going to be higher, it's always going to be harder to increase the price.

Gregarious Narain  45:35
Can you gift? So how do your Spore memberships I guess, work, say alongside the ecosystem of memberships that maybe exists, right? So like, can I give a membership to someone? Or can I just make someone a certain level? Or I know like a lot of people use Patreon, for example, as the primary way to control access to their Discord, right? Like it like how's that ecosystem? Do you? Do you see it now and sort of like moving for you guys.

Antonio Gary Jr.  46:02
So the benefit for us is we have chat built-in. So it's your personal brand chat. So you can have a free membership, but you can have a paid membership, and you can limit access to that content or to those channels. So it's really up to you. And this is an area that we're continuing to test and improve because the needs of the creators are evolving and how they want to create memberships are evolving. So what I would say is we previously saw, we're previously in a stage where it's like the old days of SaaS, where it's just, you know, basic access or ad-free, and we're gonna see more intricate areas memberships. And our goal is to just be able to create a system that's flexible enough to be able to achieve that.

Ken Yeung  46:42
So what can we expect in the future for the company? And like, what's the long-term vision for Spore, right? I mean, you, you've raised a million dollars in a round, led by Signal Fire by Josh Constine, who's a dear friend of ours. But like, where do what can we expect from Spore in the next year? Right? I mean, it's said, you know, we bring you back in a year from now we're like, "Hey, Antonio, what's changed? Right? I mean, any thoughts that you can share about what to expect?

Gregarious Narain  47:14
Oprah, Oprah gets people to cry, we get people to do screen shares of the road map.

Antonio Gary Jr.  47:19
Well, in a year or a year, I'll still be blogging. So there's that.

Ken Yeung  47:29
Everything old is cool again, right? We're rebooting everything, right? So

Antonio Gary Jr.  47:33
Yeah, no, it's just it's it, you know, it might, it might not sound sexy, but it's just, we want to be the platform that has unparalleled trust with creators and giving them the flexibility to do what they want, achieve what they want, and being able to run their business. And that's our goal is, and we know that starts with trust. And this is something that gets way overlooked in the creator economy and in a year, we're looking at a place where we have strong relationships with our creators, we're in a place where we're continuing to refine and being able to deliver on their needs, and that we're able to grow with them. That's the value is that we're so early in the creator space, and it's continuing to grow and creators are growing, and we just want to be able to give them the infrastructure to grow with them.

Gregarious Narain  48:19
Yeah, absolutely. I have one last question before we close up, and go to After Dark. You know, Antonio, when we chat all the time, now back and forth, here and there. Last week, I had sort of this thread about like the, you know, creators need to be treated like founders and what, right? And largely because like platforms like us, I felt we're taking some arrows for like, trying to monetize through, like performance, right, like transaction-based sort of systems. And I know, Spore, I believe is also in the 10% camp. What are your thoughts? Like? I mean, is that like a test? Are you know, do you view Do you think that that could change or evolve over time, or just your general thoughts, I guess, in sort of like the, you know, the broader conversation about how best, how platforms like ours should try to monetize, to participate and help grow the efforts and energies of creators as well.

Antonio Gary Jr.  49:15
I think you could look back into our conversation on how creators price themselves, and it's how much value are you providing? And when we look at that as what how do we continue to add value to these creators and give them as many tools and resources as possible, whether that's, you know, new features, or how do we continue, to give these to creators so that, you know, we can say, All right, we're investing in you and the 10 percent is us growing with you. And that's what I see it is, is that you know, a lot of people don't want to look at creators as founders, but you need that, that needs to change and when you talk to creators and you realize how scrappy they are, they're scrappier than some founders. So you know, like creators are going live every single day creating content, building your brand, negotiating brand deals, they're doing everything. And a lot of this is on their own with a job. So the way we look at it is that rather than just saying, hey, pay me the 30 bucks a month, so I can forecast my revenue, we're like, if you're not growing, we're not growing. If you're not growing, we're not growing. So I would say, what I would say is that we're the ones that are investing creators, while the others are just, you know, trying to make trying to impact their bottom line in a way that isn't too risky. But what we're doing is we're investing we're growing with them and were reformed that relationship.

Gregarious Narain  50:36
Yeah, I'm with you, by the way, I think we don't give them enough credit. I often say they're a good role model for what a well-run business could look like. Yeah, a very diverse revenue streams, you know, very spartan teams, right, lightweight, like, you know, nimble, right, like, they get a lot done with like, a very few people. And that's not the, you know, I know, it's not the majority, but it's also not the exception, right, like, to the rule, right. But I do think that the flip side, there's an interesting dynamic here of like, like, Is there like some escape velocity sort of maximums and other things like that, that I think that I'm personally curious and interested in? Just because I think there is some lifetime, sort of, like you, we've seen like Twitter test this sort of with some of their stuff is, you know, I, we want you to be successful. So we're gonna, like, make it really easy for you to be on us. But then later, we'll start to participate, because we've helped you grow to a place now where I'm not saying that that's the best model or the right model. But I think it's very interesting. For sure. Until you I want to say thank you, by the way, Heather, it's so good to see you.

Ken Yeung  51:44

Gregarious Narain  51:45
I'm going to be on Heather's show in a couple of weeks, I think.

Antonio Gary Jr.  51:50
So you're going to have to invite me to that. I want to support that. Use it. Shoot me that link? I'm gonna check it out

Ken Yeung  52:01
Yeah, yeah, he's gonna put it on CalendarTumblr. on it on his blog, because he's super cool.

Antonio Gary Jr.  52:07
Am I going to need a Tumblr subscription for that?

Ken Yeung  52:11
You can do Tumblr+ now, they launched that now, you know.

Gregarious Narain  52:14
I'm going to set up a Spore and only members will get the link.

Antonio Gary Jr.  52:19
Let's do it.

Ken Yeung  52:20
So So basically, we're going to pool membership. So we'll just have one account, and then we'll just share the link out. Yeah.

Gregarious Narain  52:26
How can we do together? Oh, I think I forgot, to schedule Heather for our show. But we'll have her on.

Ken Yeung  52:33
Wait, wait, wait, Greg, you're on August 17!

Gregarious Narain  52:39
Well, Heather, we need you to come on to the show. Maybe like September 8, because I think that's our next open. Actually, because Antonio is gonna be back. In case you don't know, by the way, the original plan for today. And this worked out great, by the way. So there's no disappointment on our side. But Antonio also started with another friend of our Steven, the Black Creator Crew. Yeah. Am I getting right? Yeah, there were a few words. And I know, which I think is an amazing effort. And we wanted to have them bolt on to come and tell us a bit about that. And maybe we should have you tried to bring some of the creators in with you that day, too.

Ken Yeung  53:18
Yeah, that'd be great.

Gregarious Narain  53:19
It'd be fun. It was certainly for After Dark Because then we can have up to 15 people join us as well. But um, so see, Anthony and Steven will be back on September 1.

Antonio Gary Jr.  53:30

Ken Yeung  53:31
Antonio. Wow.

Gregarious Narain  53:33
You know, like,

Antonio Gary Jr.  53:33
yeah, you know, just listen, you

Gregarious Narain  53:36
just called me a blogger. You know, I can't read a long-form. I don't know.

Antonio Gary Jr.  53:41
I'm gonna start a Spore membership just for you. And it's gonna be $50 for the Anthony. So you can just go ahead and become a loyal fan right now. It's okay, things happen.

Ken Yeung  53:50
So we really know what's your alternate identity because it's the internet right? You're like I really Anthony as well. So this is

Gregarious Narain  53:58
it's not like your name is printed on the screen right in front of me.

Ken Yeung  54:02
Greg, basically, we get it because it's a bot that it's a subscriber you bought that's named Anthony that you want to really have on the show, not us. We get it.

Gregarious Narain  54:13
This is absolutely true. But we are about to transition to the second part of the show. I hope you can join us for a few minutes, Antonio. But, just for bookkeeping, next episode. We are off next week. But the week after we will have our friend Jim Louderback, the GM of VidCon on to tell us everything about what's going on in the next VidCon sponsored by TikTok for the first time.

Ken Yeung  54:36
Yep, looking forward to this one.

Antonio Gary Jr.  54:38
Big, big,

Gregarious Narain  54:39
Big deal. big change. Big things are our foot so excited to talk to Jim in two weeks. So by all means, make sure you hit that. Also this Friday. Don't forget our news show. It will be back, Creative Briefs. July 30. By the way, someone DM me and said, Hey, Creative Briefs sounds like an underwear line. Ken picked the name of that show.

Ken Yeung  55:04
Now when you say somebody DMed is basically your mind you thought about this, or you just woke up like, Hey, you know,

Gregarious Narain  55:10
I got a message on Facebook Messenger.

Ken Yeung  55:12

Gregarious Narain  55:13
And it was he was laughing his ass off. But yeah, we do have our good friend James Hicks actually coming up on August 18, as well. August 25. We have Roni from community co, another Discord find, a friend from Discord. And then yes, as I mentioned, Antonio and Steven.

Antonio Gary Jr.  55:29
Not Anthony.

Ken Yeung  55:31
Oh, all right. There we go.

Gregarious Narain  55:32
I said, Antonio.

Ken Yeung  55:33
Yeah, I know, I'm just saying don't, um, Anthony's not showing up.

Gregarious Narain  55:37
You're the one reinforcing the wrong name by pointing it out. Like I've said it is the right way. Anyway, if you would like to be a guest, by the way, head over to, there's a link there for you to join us. You can submit your name. We're always looking for new guests. We are booked up through September 1 right now, but I'm pretty sure Heather's gonna be there for September 8. Right, Heather, come on. Yes. But I'm going to hold that spot for Heather. But yeah, September is when we are looking for our next guest. So by all means, head over there and give us a shot. Now we're about to head into the after-show, it is a chance to come on stage to chat, to interact, we have a lot of fun. It's off the record. It's not recorded, largely because Zealous can't record anything right now. But it will be on the record at some point. But if you want to join for the after-show, pop in you get to see what Zealous looks like for a minute as well. It's a and you can join right now. And I will head over there to get it going. But thank you everyone for being here. Head over to Can you know what I got that special music on?

Ken Yeung  56:43
Wait, wait, wait. We got some breaking news about September 8. We have a confirmation, Heather's joining us.

Gregarious Narain  56:48
Yeah. All right, Heather, we are going to lock it in. I will send you the invite right now. Looking forward to it. Thank you so much, Antonio, for joining us today. It was a great conversation. We appreciate you being open and and and out there about what's going on with you know, Spore. It's very exciting. I love that you're helping podcaster. You didn't know this, by the way, I was an early podcaster. I have two chapters in two podcasting books. Yeah, I did 300 podcasts in four months, I used to do a show called Beercasting and traveled around the United States and actually did podcast live in bars. Wow. So yeah, so I spent plenty of time doing some podcasting myself. So I'm always happy to see folks doing more successfully over there. So by all means, join us over at It'll take you right into Zealous so you can join us for the after-show. We look forward to seeing you and with that. We will see you all on Friday.