Can You Make a Living on YouTube? If You're One of the Top 1000 Channels Making $23,000/Mo You Can
In the late 90s, it seems like everyone had a startup, but no one, especially the media giants, knew exactly how they were going to make money off this new thing called the Internet. Would there be a machine next to your computer that accepted quarters, à la those massaging beds you see in movies but have never seen in real life? Would it come from subscription fees, like the old AOL model? It turns out the answer was ads, mostly, and with its model, individual users can earn quite a bit of money with their YouTube videos. An infographic shows how at least one segment of the internet is making its scratch, moolah, bread, cab fare, etc. Click below to check out how much sweet, sweet money the top 1,000 channels are making!
There really should be a B.Y. and an A.Y. (before YouTube and after). It seems bizarre that there was a time when you couldn't think of a song you heard once at a high school dance, and then be listening to/watching/dancing alone in your room to the video for that song within 30 seconds (but before YouTube, that would have been insane. We are truly through the looking glass, people.) Before 2005, though, this was the case. Now we live in, as comedian Patton Oswalt calls it, "the age of everything forever," and the world is changed in ways we are only beginning to understand (in 20 years, I guarantee there will be Google PhDs, received from Google University. Go Terrabytes!) YouTube was one of the first sites to pay its users, and while it's hard to make money unless you generate a lot of traffic, it's possible. Some people even make a living.
This infographic from ad-agency MDG breaks down just many views the top channels are getting (surprise, many of them belong to big brands or musical stars) and how much revenue this generates. The numbers are fascinating:
The top 500 brands on YouTube average 884,000 views a month, with 98,000 views per video and about 35,000 subscribers (top brands also average about 203,000 Twitter followers and 2.6. million Facebook likes, because people just can't stop pressin' that button.)
The top 1,000 channels also average $23,000 in monthly ad revenue, and in another interesting number, it turns out that 350 social-media interactions are generated for each minute of video uploaded by these top channels. Meaning the top videos get linked, embedded, tweeted, etc., which is common sense, but still interesting to have put into an actual figure. Subscribers to these top 1,000 channels average 7.5 million views every month, 25 million comments (all of which are thoughtful and well-written) and 55 million ratings (thumbs up or down).
Additionally, MDG points out that most consumers are sick of traditional ads, and projects a rise in digital video ad spending from 2 billion dollars in 2011 to 8.04 billion in 2016. That's a huge leap in just five years, though, really, this is just replacing TV commercials with internet commercials. There's still no guarantee anyone will watch the ad, but since DVR is making traditional TV spots less relevant every day, these companies have to annoy you somehow. And YouTube users spend far more time on the site than any other video site, by far.
But what does this translate into, in terms of revenue? Well, the top YouTube video ever, Gangnam Style (I know, I know) has over one billion views and counting (somewhere around 1.6 billion as of today) and generated about $870,000 dollars for Psy and his record label. While that is more than a quarter of a million dollars, it's maybe not as much as one might think would be earned for a billion views:
What does this mean for indie filmmakers? Do you post your work on YouTube, or higher-quality video but lower view sites like Vimeo? Do you participate in the ad share program, which is the only way to make money in the first place? If so, have you seen any money? What do you think the future of internet advertising is, and how will it affect content creators like indie filmmakers in this brave new world?