Substack is trying to lure TikTok stars to its platform

The company says its plans are unrelated to a potential TikTok ban.

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Newsletter platform Substack is ramping up its video ambitions and trying to lure TikTok stars to its service. The company announced a new “creator studio” that will offer a group of creators free promotion and other services if they “ turn their TikTok channels into Substack shows and communities.”

The program is part of a larger effort by the newsletter company to expand beyond text newsletters. The timing also happens to come just weeks after a bill that could ban TikTok in the United States became law, though Substack claims its plans are unrelated to the measure. “We’re not introducing this fellowship because of panic over a TikTok bill or ever-changing algorithms,” Substack’s Austin Tedesco writes in a blog post. Instead, he says, it’s about finding a replacement for all “ad-based platforms” which he says are “unreliable partners” for creators.

It’s not clear how Substack intends to create a better home for creators, though the experience of participants in the creator studio will presumably inform its future plans. For now, the company is recruiting ten TikTok creators for the program. Those who are accepted will receive production help and PR services, as well as access to “exclusive features” and “white glove service” from Subsatck’s partnerships team.

The company says creators in the program can still post on TikTok, Instagram and other social channels but that Substack should be the “primary home base for free and premium content.” Creators will also be expected to engage with subscribers on Substack Chat.

Substack has been pushing video features for awhile, but the announcement is the clearest sign yet that it wants to expand its service to creators typically found on traditional social media platforms, rather than writers who may also dabble in video. The company also likely won’t be the last to try to take advantage of TikTok’s uncertain future in the United States. And while YouTube and Instagram may be better-positioned to scoop up TikTok’s talent, Substack may be able to carve out a space for creators looking to offer paywalled content.