OnlyFans’ “Creative Fund” Is the NSFW Platform’s Latest Foray Into SFW Territory

OnlyFans' creative fund wants to support musicians, but could it also be threatening sex workers?

Stefflon Don performs on stage at The Royal Albert Hall
Stefflon Don is one of the judges for OnlyFans' new creative fund.
Christie Goodwin/Redferns/Getty

OnlyFans, the subscription platform best known (for now anyway) as one of few places on the internet where sex workers can safely post and profit directly from their own sexually explicit content, is launching a “creative fund” designed to support artists pursuing careers in more traditional forms of entertainment, like musicians.

The creative fund will launch first in the UK (where the site itself is headquartered) and will initially focus on promoting emerging musicians in the nation, ultimately awarding a prize of more than $100,000 to be split among four artists chosen by a panel including OnlyFans CEO Tim Stokely and UK rapper Stefflon Don, who told the Independent that the COVID-19 pandemic is an especially important time to be supporting musicians. “Music is an industry you have to work incredibly hard at anyway and with live gigs off the table it’s been tougher than ever,” she told the outlet. “My hope is this gives musicians inspiration or a channel to earn a wage. For the winners who will get the grant, I’m excited to see their possibilities in the industry and see the entries.”

OnlyFans has brushed shoulders with the music industry in the past. Last year, a shoutout from Beyoncé in a remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” catapulted the site to household-name level recognition, and musicians including Cardi B have since joined the platform themselves. But while this expansion into mainstream popularity has been great news for OnlyFans and its founders, who previously told Rolling Stone that “Beyoncé, and any artist, are welcome to join OnlyFans at any time to foster a deeper connection with their fans,” others have long feared that the platform’s increasing focus on mainstream celebrities could threaten the presence and livelihood of the sex workers who have long dominated the site. As Mistress Eva Oh told InsideHook last year, “It’s a common reality that sex workers popularize platforms only to then be forced out when the platforms reach a level of mass popularity.”

While OnlyFans has always been marketed as an online subscription platform that welcomes creators of all kinds, sex workers have long feared that as the site increases in mainstream popularity, it will inevitably go the way of many online spaces before it that once welcomed sex workers before banning erotic content. As adult business and marketing consultant Amberly Rothfield told InsideHook last summer, “Too often we have seen platforms like Twitch and YouTube allow risqué behavior to grow their channels, only to kick us off when major advertisers come down.” For those concerned about the effects OnlyFans’ increasing mainstream popularity may have on sex content and creators on the site, the new “creative fund” comes as the latest warning sign that the company is prioritizing mainstream creators and SFW content over the sex workers and sexually explicit content to which it owes its popularity in the first place.

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