Just a year after YouTube invited members to become "partners" and added advertising to videos, the most successful users are earning six-figure incomes from filming and uploading videos to the site, according to a shocking article in the New York Times today.
The article cites Michael Buckley, the host of a "celebrity chatter show" on YouTube who used to be the part-time host of a weekly show on a Connecticut public access channel. With a little moxie and some time, Buckley now gets 100 million views, he says.
All he needed was a $2,000 Canon camera, a $6 piece of fabric for a backdrop and a pair of work lights from Home Depot. Mr. Buckley is an example of the Internet’s democratizing effect on publishing. Sites like YouTube allow anyone with a high-speed connection to find a fan following, simply by posting material and promoting it online.
YouTube declined to comment on how much money partners earned on average, but a spokesman, Aaron Zamost, said that "hundreds of YouTube partners are making thousands of dollars a month," some of which are making a full-time living (like Buckley, who said he was earning over $100,000 from YouTube advertisements).
As we've written here before on ZDNet, YouTube's program is only one solution to a problem for the site: how to monetize eyeballs. Call it the Twitter problem: the site records 10 times the video views as any other video-sharing Web site in the United States, but Google's still trying out ways to profit from it, and only 3 percent or so of the videos on the site are supported by advertising.
To be sure, some YouTube partners are major media companies, including Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Brothers and CBS, the parent company of this site. But this shows that individual users can compete for the same eyeballs -- much unlike what streams in through your cable box in your living room. Clearly, the democratization of the Internet is becoming financially rewarding -- and it doesn't require an eBay habit to do so.
Have you made money on YouTube? [techmeme]
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