YouTube Shorts vs TikTok: new revenue opportunity for creators

LOS ANGELES – YouTube on Tuesday launched new revenue sharing tools for content creators on its YouTube Shorts video product in its latest effort to counter TikTok’s unparalleled growth.

Until TikTok’s surge – over 100 million downloads in the US alone this year – YouTube had been the most sustainable source of income for content creators, who received a share of the revenue from the ads that appeared with their videos. With the partner program unveiled ten years ago, thousands of people had made YouTube their full-time job.

Now YouTube wants to go back to that record.

“It looks like a giant attempt to catch frustrated TikToker,” said Serena Kerrigan, a TikTok star with over half a million followers.

YouTube’s new revenue sharing program has the potential to overthrow the power center of young creators online, where TikTok has reigned supreme.

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The creator economy has exploded in recent years. According to a report from venture capital firm SignalFire, in 2020 over 50 million people around the world worked as online creators, making a living by monetizing their audiences on platforms including TikTok, YouTube and Twitch. That number jumped to 200 million in 2022, according to a recent report from Linktree, a tool that allows digital creators to share more links on their social media. YouTube said over 2 million creators are monetizing on its platform.

With the new plan, YouTube creators will be able to capture a portion of the revenue generated from ads posted between Shorts videos. YouTube plans to put 45 percent of the ad revenue into a pool that will then be distributed to creators based on their share of total short film views. To participate in the program, creators must have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and have accumulated at least 10 million views in the previous 90 days. The program will start rolling out in early 2023.

“This is a really important time for creators,” said Amjad Hanif, YouTube’s vice president of product management. “When we launched the partner program 15 years ago, it was the first of its kind and kickstarted the creator economy. This brings all the goodness and benefits that creators have perceived from revenue sharing and it also brings it in a shortened form. “

Hanif said creators who don’t meet the requirements will still be able to earn early access to other tools that facilitate payments from their audience, such as Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Sticker, and channel memberships, which allow fans to issue micropayments. to creators for certain features. “This new lower tier will allow creators to join their journey as creators much earlier and earn directly from our fan fencing products,” Hanif said.

The introduction of revenue sharing in the short form video space is a major shift in the creator ecosystem. No other platform offers revenue sharing. TikTok, for example, pays creators from a fixed pool of money called the creators’ fund. The more creators join the fund, however, the more the money gets divided.

In May 2021, YouTube introduced its own $ 100 million creator fund for short film creators. However, the company believes that in order to support its growing class of influencers, it needs to provide them with better opportunities to make money.

“Funds by their very nature are a fixed amount and that amount does not grow with the size of the creator population,” Hanif said. “The great thing about revenue sharing is that if we do better as a platform, creators will also be able to earn. We call it the partner program because it’s really a partnership with these creators. “

Another big sticking point for YouTube Shorts was the music. TikTok has reshaped the music industry by allowing creators to set their content on popular songs. On YouTube, however, the music options were much more limited. The complexity of music licensing has prevented many long-form video creators from including popular songs in their videos.

The company is introducing Creator Music to solve these problems. Creator Music will be a hub that will allow creators to easily access a large and growing catalog of music to use in their content, while providing artists and music rights holders with a revenue stream.

Creators will also be able to purchase “affordable, high-quality music licenses that offer the full monetization potential,” the company’s announcement states, and “creators will maintain the same revenue share they typically would with non-video. music”.

Creator Music is still in development for US release, but will launch widely in 2023. “This is a pretty big change in how commercial music has been used on platforms,” ​​Hanif said. “All musical artists, creators and fans win”.

Taty Cokley, a YouTube creator with 950,000 subscribers who has been creating content on the platform for four years, said she is particularly excited about the new music offerings.

“All of us will elevate our content. It will come out more genuine than before, “he said.” Most of our audience wants to feel like they’re talking to a friend, not an influencer. Now, when they watch our videos, they’ll feel like they’re dating us. ” .

Many content creators reacted to Tuesday’s big announcements with glee.

“YouTube is my number one goal now because of the potential for ad revenue on short films,” said Jared Neelley, a YouTube creator in Houston with 30,000 subscribers. “I personally don’t like creating long-form content due to the cultural shift that TikTok brings to the world. This is quick information in short form and now I can be rewarded for it. “

Hank Green, longtime YouTube creator and co-founder of VidCon, an annual convention for online video artists, said on Twitter that YouTube’s new earning options were “a serious threat to TikTok, which is already making money. a clear and definitive reputation as an antagonist to creators. ”He also added that many creators see TikTok simply as a stepping stone to building an audience on” a platform where they have more control and opportunity (like podcasts or YouTube.) “.

Green also noted that while the announcement meant a “huge day for creators,” the changes in music usage were an even bigger win for the music industry, which is likely to see increased licensing revenue from. expanded use of folk songs.

“It seems YouTube cares about creators with their hearts, but they care about labels with their wallets,” he tweeted.

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