YouTube launches fan funding for independent content creators

Google-owned YouTube has launched a donation feature for YouTube channels, which could act as a crowdfunding tool to get entrepreneurs off the ground.

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YouTube's bread-and-butter is content created by independent channels worldwide, and to further encourage this business branch, the company has now launched fan-based donations.

As spotted by Android Police, a promise by Google made in the summer has now borne fruit -- producers of content on the video streaming website YouTube can now request donations from their subscribers and fans.

Currently available in the United States, Australia, Japan and Mexico -- although expected to expand eventually to other countries -- if a content creator is willing to accept donations, then an icon will appear in the top left corner of a video. If a user hovers over the icon, either a banner or pop up message will entice you to donate and offer funding options.

Donations are not limited to browsers; users can also contribute through the YouTube app on Android. However, if you donate, YouTube will take a small cut which acts as a transaction fee. The publication says that the amount varies by country, but in the US, for example, five percent of the donation is kept in addition to a fee of 21 cents.

The new donation feature may encourage more independent content creators and indie brands to take to YouTube and invest time in growing their fan base -- as advertising alone often doesn't cut it when it comes to living wages. When you consider channels such as the popular Yogscast team, who post videos of video game reviews and playthroughs and gain millions of views a month, fan-based donations could not only let the team cash in, but provide the funds to expand such channels. This, in turn, gives YouTube more scope to sell more advertising space to sponsors -- and keeps fans coming back.