YouTube targets TikTok with a better deal for creators

LOS ANGELES — YouTube on Tuesday rolled out new revenue-sharing tools for creators on YouTube video producer Shorts in its latest effort to counter the unprecedented growth of TikTok.

Until TikTok’s surge – more than 100 million downloads in the US alone this year – YouTube was the most sustainable source of income for content creators, who took a share of the revenue from ads that appeared with their videos. With the unveiling of the Partner Program a decade ago, thousands of YouTubers have made their full-time jobs.

YouTube now wants to get back to that priority.

“This looks like a giant attempt to take over the frustrated TikTokers,” said Serena Kerrigan, a TikTok star with over half a million followers.

YouTube’s new revenue-sharing program has the potential to overturn the powerhouse of young online content creators, with TikTok being the best.

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The creative economy has flourished in recent years. According to a report by SignalFire, in 2020 more than 50 million people worldwide were working as online creators, earning a living by monetizing their audiences across platforms including TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch. That number rose to 200 million in 2022, according to a recent report by Linktree, a tool that allows digital creators to share multiple links on their social media. YouTube said that more than two million content creators are monetizing its platform.

Under the new plan, YouTube creators will be able to reap a portion of the revenue from ads played between short videos. YouTube plans to put 45 percent of the revenue generated from ads into a pool that is then distributed to creators based on their share of the short film’s total views. To participate in the program, creators must have at least 1,000 subscribers and have collected at least 10 million views in the past 90 days. The program will begin rolling out in early 2023.

“This is truly an important moment 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 launched the creator economy. This brings all the good and benefits creators have felt from revenue sharing and turns it into a shorthand as well.”

Hanif said that creators who do not meet the requirements will still be able to make money with early access to other tools that facilitate payments from their fans, such as Super Thanks, Super Chat, Super Stickers, and channel memberships, which allow fans to issue small payments to creators for certain features. . “This new minimum level will allow creators to join very early in their journey as creators and earn money directly from our fan fencing products,” Hanif said.

The introduction of revenue sharing in the short video space is a major change 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. However, the more creators who joined the fund, the more ways to split the money.

In May 2021, YouTube introduced its $100 million Creators Fund to short film creators. However, the company feels that to maintain its growing class of influencers, it needs to provide them with better opportunities to make money.

“Money is inherently a fixed amount, and this amount does not grow based on the size of the creative population,” Hanif said. “The beauty of revenue sharing is that because we work better as a platform, content creators will be able to make money as well. We call it the affiliate program because it’s really a partnership with those creators.”

Music has been another big sticking point in YouTube Shorts. TikTok has reshaped the music industry by allowing creators to set their content on popular songs. However, the music options were very limited on YouTube. The complexities of licensing music have left many longtime video creators unable to include popular songs in their videos.

The company offers Creator Music to fix these issues. Creator Music will be a hub that will give creators easy access to an expanding and growing catalog of music to use in their content, while continuing to provide artists and music rights holders with a revenue stream.

Creators will also be able to purchase “affordable, high-quality music licenses that offer full monetization capabilities,” the company’s announcement said, and “creators will keep the same revenue share they normally get on videos without any music.”

The Creator Music channel is still in development for release in the US, but will launch widely in 2023. “This is a very big change in how commercial music is used on the platforms,” Hanif said. “Music artists, creators, and fans all win.”

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

“We will all live up to our content. It will pay off more authentic than it was before,” she said. “Most of our audience want to feel like they’re talking to a friend rather than an influencer. Now when they watch our videos, they’ll feel like they’re hanging out with us.”

Many content creators reacted to the big announcements on Tuesday happily.

“YouTube is my number one focus right now because of the ad revenue potential on short films,” said Jared Nelly, a YouTube creator in Houston with 30,000 subscribers. “Personally, I don’t like creating long-form content because of the cultural shift that TikTok has brought to the world. It’s all about quick information in short form, and now I can be rewarded for that.”

Hank Green, longtime YouTube creator and co-founder of VidCon, an annual conference for online video artists, said on Twitter that YouTube’s new revenue options represented “a serious threat to TikTok, which is already earning a clear and definitive reputation for being hostile to creators.” He also added that many creators see TikTok as just 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 marks a “huge day for creators,” the changes in music use have been a bigger gain for the music industry, which is likely to see an increase in licensing revenue from expanded use of popular songs.

“It seems YouTube cares about creators with their hearts out, but they care about the stickers in their wallets,” he wrote on Twitter.

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