Supporting creators in both entertainment and entrepreneurship: A Q&A with RTS vp of talent management Sue Lee
Last year, prominent Twitch streamer Imane “Pokimane” Anys founded her own talent management company, RTS. Today, RTS has gone public with the signing of its first three streamer clients, giving the company a long-awaited opportunity to showcase its creator-informed approach.
In addition to Anys, RTS’s expanded talent roster now includes big-name Twitch streamers Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang, Niki “Nihachu” Nihachu and Albert “BoxBox” Zheng, collectively boasting over 26 million followers across all major social media platforms. RTS has been working with all three creators behind-the-scenes for several months, but didn’t announce the signings until today.
Beyond managing brand partnerships and work opportunities for its talent, RTS plans to provide its creators with the branding, marketing and business expertise necessary to follow in Anys’ footsteps and convert their followings into full-fledged businesses that can flourish in today’s increasingly competitive creator economy.
To learn more about the strategy and future plans of RTS’s talent management business, Digiday spoke to Sue Lee, RTS vp of talent management and a former longtime Twitch staffer.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How is RTS’s approach different from that of other talent management companies in the digital creator space?
A lot of companies in this space right now do a lot of great work, as it pertains to bringing in new revenue and branding opportunities and sponsorships. We really wanted to focus on being a sort of 360 management service, which is everything from dealing and organizing finances — all the fun things that creators don’t like to think about, whether it’s taxes, financial planning, retirement planning, things like that. We also organize things like accounting, bookkeeping, invoicing. We also focus on brand deals after they’re signed.
So that really allows the agents to focus on what they do best, which is looking for additional opportunities and revenue lines. We can take over once the contracts are signed and ensure that everything is organized for the creator. They know exactly what their deliverables are; we ensure that all the information is brought to them in a digestible fashion, and will also handle all of the sort of B2B conversations that need to happen.
One growing phenomenon in the space is creators starting their own full-fledged businesses — your company is a great example. Can RTS support these efforts, too?
Absolutely. Across all of our creators, our priority is to ensure, first and foremost, that we’re delivering on their immediate needs, and once those are taken care of, then we can begin those more macroscopic conversations — ”Now that your business is set up and smooth sailing, what are some ideas that you’ve always wanted to execute on?” And, of course, ventures are always going to be a part of the conversation.
Disguised Toast and Pokimane have been friends for years. For a business like RTS, how important is it for people like you and Pokimane to have a network of personal friendships and connections beyond business partnerships?
For myself, having worked at Twitch for as many years as I did, I built an amazing network of creators, and that was part of how I was able to begin conversations with Toast about working together.
It can be an advantage, in ways, because this industry is so small — you meet each other as human beings, and you can get a very quick sense of whether it would make sense to work together or not. So I wouldn’t say it’s “important” as much as it’s been a benefit to have already had these relationships with many of these people already. That gives you a sort of speed boost, I would say.
How integrated are the talent management and brand consultancy sides of RTS?
While we don’t have direct overlap on a normal basis, I do hop in meetings with them regularly to help consult from my POV of understanding the content creator space. There are often times where they have to put together a pitch or a deck that incorporates some level of influencer marketing, and that’s when they’ll call me in to sort of speak to my expertise on what top creators are open to, what top creators have done in the past, what has resonated, what has really converted the best. So that’s typically been the way in which we’re able to collaborate and work together.
I noticed that all of the creators RTS has signed so far are either women or people of color, which is not exactly representative of the prototypical gamer. Was this intentional?
It wasn’t. I think a lot of it just happened very organically, because of the creator relationships I had while I was at Twitch. But as our industry continues to mature, that is a personal focus of ours. I think all of us at RTS are aware of that sort of ratio of how things have happened in the past, and we always want to amplify and support underrepresented groups where we can. So it wasn’t intentional, but I guess it just happened.
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