On Sunday, the National Board of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federal of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)—one of the largest trade unions in the country—announced it will extend membership benefits to influencers creating content on social media.
Under a new agreement, SAG-AFTRA made clear that it would expand its definition of advertising to not only include influencer generated content, but allow the content creators to qualify for health and pension benefits. Currently, the union represents some 160,000 performers and media workers in fields including “film and digital motion pictures, television programs, commercials, video games, corporate/educational and non-broadcast productions, new media” and more.
“I want to commend the efforts of our staff in creating an agreement that will benefit SAG-AFTRA’s current members as well as allowing all creators an opportunity to join the union,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “As new ways of storytelling emerge, it’s imperative that we embrace and lift up these artists.”
The agreement seems to be a step in that direction. It covers advertising work done across all social media and codifies "influencer-generated branded content" as a type of advertising, meaning that any SAG-AFTRA member who does such work will now qualify for benefits. The branded content category, talent agency Backstage writes, counts as anything "generated, distributed, and produced by an influencer" but also requires it must be created by the influencer and exist on their personal platforms. Commercials are excluded as they fall under the union’s separate contract for commercial.
"The Influencer Agreement was created in response to the unique nature of Influencer-generated branded content and offers a new way for influencers to work under a SAG-AFTRA agreement," SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris told Backstage in an interview. "We want to be able to support both current and future SAG-AFTRA members in this space and for them to be able to access the benefits of union coverage."
Important to note, however, is that there is no "mandated contract minimum." In other words, influencers and advertisers are still expected to negotiate fees and rates for work.
The SAG-AFTRA did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.