YouTube “Partners” are contractually obliged to not disclose earnings from Google’s video-sharing property, but that didn’t stop #2 subscribed Ray William Johnson this week. On Thursday he told ReelSEO’s Jeremy Scott that his YouTube ad-share income over the past 12 months (March 2010-March 2011) has surpassed one million dollars.
Johnson, one of few top YouTubers that does not accept sponsorships or product placement, has earned $1 million strictly from YouTube’s advertising-sharing program. In his Tuesday video titled “F-U FORUM,” the 37-year-old New Yorker told his viewers he was tired of YouTube’s “cone of silence” about his “bodacious income.”
“I’m just a regular guy with an entertaining hobby that happens to make a friggin million dollars without leaving my apartment,” Johnson told Scott. “Am I supposed to apologize for that? If you’re jealous just do what I’m doing, and do it better.”
Numerous mediaarticleshavecovered YouTube “star” income, but few YouTube Partners have revealed their revenue, either because they feared legal backlash from the “search giant,” or they hesitated alienating “fans” and viewers.” Johnson said he’s “tired of pretending he doesn’t earn it” because he “spends about 11 hours a day surfing for killer videos to rip and replay.” Johnson told Scott he was not concerned about potential copyright violations from his creations.
“My use of these moronic clips is covered by what’s called “fair use,” (expletive). And it’s a free form of creative expression because I add some comedic writing to the videos instead of just playing them over and over. Like I’ll say ‘hey look at this douchebag’ and then jump-cut edit myself saying “hey look at this DOUCHE-BAG’ from the opposite side of the video frame.”
Johnson’s claims are also validated by Paul “Renetto” Robinette, who runs the metrics site “MyU2B.” Robinette said his most pessimistic calculations range in the $800,000-$900,000 range, and it’s possible he’ll double his income in the next 6 months based on growth projections.”
In related “collab” news, it was nice to see DaveDays and “Key of Awesome’s” Mark Douglas playing guitar in the park. Shitty camera work by Ben Relles. Speaking of BarelyPolitical/NextNewNetworks, here’s its latest Batman video (Poison Ivy). Be the first to see it. At least Relles didn’t shoot it.
Upon the introduction of any new medium, the early notable talent are often independent, persistent and multi-taskers. The “one-man bands” who cracked radio, film and television first were charismatic (Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin, Jack Benny, Merv Griffen, Jack Paar), but also savvy at promoting themselves. Parenthetically, I’m not comparing myself to these folks, and I’m distinct from a lot of NNN shows in that I really don’t have a show. My 900 plus “Nalts” videos are far more random, and NNN hasn’t asked me to change that model (though I might).
Just like other mediums, online-video’s early players have been individuals who lacked agents, deep pockets and connections. But the early YouTuber solo acts (who still dominate the most-viewed and most-subscribed channels) cracked the code… which was less true for the better financed and higher-quality web shows, backed by networks, production companies or even advertising agencies.
In the past 9-18 months, we’ve seen that shift dramatically. Here are the trends that attracted me to a “rat pack” or “brat pack” model. By that, I mean a collection of individuals who collaborate to build something bigger then they could be individually.
7 Reasons I’m Joining a “Creators Club”
Cross Pollination: YouTube’s most-subscribed channels remain individual acts. Most of the top creators have increased their audiences by appearing in each other’s videos, or forming collaboration channels. BarelyPolitical, one of the most successful Next New Networks shows, is among them. What started as Ben Relles’ Obama Girl has since brought attention to numerous shows, individuals and performers
YouTube & Beyond: Increasingly the convergence of television and web content will offer new distribution opportunities. I believe there’s strength in numbers. While YouTube was once able to maintain relationships with individual creators, that isn’t scalable. So an intermediary is important for both the “platform” (a term YouTube uses to describe itself) and individual creators. On television we call those “networks.”
Following the Leaders: I’ve watched with curiosity what other individual creators are doing. Some fly solo. Others get “agents.” And still others decide to build informal collaboration channels… some that last and others that fade (7AwesomeWhatever series). I took special interest in HotForWords and BlameSocietyFilms signing with Next New Networks, as I have a lot of respect for those shows… both their style and tenacity. I’m a huge fan of the “auto-tune the news” Gregory Brothers (who go by the absurdly forgettable “Schmoyoho” on YouTube). Relles and NNN helped put them on the map, and they appeared just this week on NBC’s Today Show.
Old and New Media: The companies that will manage the pending evolution of media will be those who have people who’ve managed previous transitions… but also the flexibility to depart from the past when it’s not applicable. NNN’s founder, Fred Seibert, was MTV’s first creative director and the producer of many of my children’s favorite television shows — from Fairy Odd Parents to Adventure Time With Finn and Jake. Meanwhile Ben Relles is the only other prolific video creator I know who also has a marketing background.
East Coast: Many creators feel compelled to move west, where indeed most films and movies are grounded (not to mention software firms). I’m inclined to believe that in the next few years, there’s an advantage of staying closer to the likely source of income: Madison Avenue. Next New Networks is distinct, but even when compared to other players of “The New Establishment” (described in my book, Beyond Viral), it’s one of only a few based in NYC. Furthermore I’m close enough to the company and many of its creators to collaborate. Proximity is turning out to be more important than in 2004-2009.
People: Ultimately people “sign” with networks, agents or employers more for the people than anything else. NNN has a good team with a bold mission, and it’s already turning out to be exciting to be part of something bigger than me. I’ve known Relles for years, and he wrote a chapter in my book. Seibert is a trip. Mark makes me shoot milk out my nose. Even Justin (who did my spotlight profile) taught me more in 2 days than I’ve learned in months.
The Logo: Sorry. I’m superficial like that. NNN has the most bad-ass logo and outro. Sorry, Jim Louderback (revision3).