Yesterday, I launched a poll about whether readers would give $50 to National Public Radio or to vlogger Ze Frank. At this writing, the results are 57 percent for NPR and 43 percent for Ze Frank. Here's the follow-up question: How much is too much to pay for a Web star?
Currently, there's a dust-up between Ze and the folks at Rocketboom, who claim to have a larger audience. The measure of success, though, has to be in the Benjamins. What would the audience tolerate seeing these people make in return for the entertainment they provide?
I'm at the Blog Business Summit today and was sitting talking with John Furrier of PodTech about the evolution blogging and vlogging. He's taking the approach of selling sponsorships for bloggers and video programming about a wide range of topics--building a network without all the overhead traditional media haven't been able to let go. In John's world, it's possible a Web star could make millions--if his business model works--while PodTech makes a killing on hit programming without anywhere near the risk an NBC takes with prime time programming.
John and I agreed that pretty much any amount of money a star earns is deserved. Talent gets what talent deserves, or as I put it in June, "if they produce a great work or monstrous hit, why shouldn’t they live in a big house and eat caviar from the belly buttons of their favored gender or contribute their fortunes to charity and schools for the art, should they so choose?"
So, I decided to figure out how much Ze Frank is on track to make, if he keeps up the pace of his duckie sales in the first six days (with a couple days when his transaction service was broken by Google). So far, based on my duckie count--139 $5 jewels, 175 $10 micro-duckies, 49 $50 duckies and one $250 bling duckie--Ze has earned $6,145. If he keeps that rate of earnings going, which is not assured after the initial rush to support a beloved vlogger, he is on track to earn $368,700 from his show in a year.
Some folks may think that is too much for a guy who spends a couple hours a day on his video blog. What do you think? Tell us where you'd draw the line.
Yes, I know Amanda left Rocketboom. But what the name of her replacement is.... I haven't the faintest idea.