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Some of Youtube sad economics
  • 96.5 percent of all of those trying to become YouTubers won’t make enough money off of advertising to crack the U.S. poverty line, according to an analysis by Mathias Bärtl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg.

    Breaking into the top 3 percent of most-viewed channels could bring in advertising revenue of about $16,800 a year. That’s a bit more than the U.S. federal poverty line of $12,140 for a single person. (The guideline for a two-person household is $16,460.) The top 3 percent of video creators of all time in Bärtl’s sample attracted more than 1.4 million views per month. Bärtl used an income of $1 per 1,000 views for an average YouTuber to calculate his earnings estimates (actually it is optimistic for many channels!). In the U.S., the median hourly wage earned by actors is $18.70, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

    People trying to make it on YouTube have long complained the company protects a handful of stars, promoting them at the expense of the masses struggling to break out (just check all trends and most recommended videos).

    The imbalance is huge and becoming worse, according to Bärtl’s research: In 2006 the top 3 percent accounted for 63 percent of all views. Ten years later, the top YouTubers received 9 in every 10 views, he found. The bottom 85 percent of those who started posting in 2016 got a maximum of 458 views per month.

    Since 2016 it became much, much worse, including all recent change of interface to reduce number of non trending videos.

  • 22 Replies sorted by
  • $1 per 1000? hahaha don't even bother reading the rest.

  • I think, personally, that the pathway to the top tier is really, really tough. There could be a lot of reasons. I'm sure YT has a system for sorting the videos and "recommending" the videos.
    I think that sorting, or recommending, can be really tough if you are on the wrong end of it.
    There's a flood of videos. There's really stiff competition. There are big, global players in the market that are making basically TV commercials disguised as art to push out the smaller artists, or, to be charitable, just promote their own stuff and the marginalizing of the indies is just a side effect.

    Having said that--and it may be that the market will just get worse for ppl coming in--I have a few observations.
    Most videos I see are really junk. Like tech reviews, there's like a a toxic fog of BS for the first minute with really crappy music, long, stupid intros with cheap graphics. You click like mad to get through it, or, more likely, you turn it off. In fact, there are so many of these that it becomes a feeding cycle--ppl see the junk and they imitate it.

    2nd thing I mention is that even if you have a seriously good video, there are so many videos in the market that no one can find it. I call this the haystack effect. Used to be, you look for a song, you get 3 or 4 covers, now the list goes off the page and there is no way to find anything. Of course, this then hinges critically on page ranking and you are back to the way Google, for whatever reason, rates the vids.

    Third thing I mention is there is a "bump" number to make a dent in the market. I call it a bump number. You can think of it as being visible from space. Ten years ago, the bump number was like 5 or 6 vids and you have an audience. Now that number is like 100. And 100 is a lot of videos. When that bump number gets to like 250 it will be almost impossible for most new players to get into the market.

    OTOH, it only takes one viral video. There's more noise, but there is still a path. That path allows small budget players to compete big time. That's a paradigm shift. For example, more people watch classical music on our channel than all of the orchestras, chamber music groups, big symphonies, whatever, in California combined.
    If we were starting from scratch, we would have a really tough time but I think it is still doable. In five years? In fact, in two years? Dunno. Probably not. So then what? An indie only platform is my guess.

  • @DrDave

    You know a lot, yet you know this from your slanted PoV.

    Youtube lately became extremely harsh place, where progress of algorithms literally wipe out all progress made by small teams or individuals.

    Main competition here is not among Youtubers, you are competing with extremely fast "improving" (only in the interests of its owners) algorithms. As it is them who either put your product before potential viewers or hide it as far as possible.

    While you are making useful content AND algorithms like you - you are fine, but if they will stop doing it - be afraid, be very afraid. And it no one to complain (until you are huge channel - in such way you can get some response in a week or two).

  • I don't think out team has a warped PoV--we just know more about our corner. But we study all the videos. We do a ton of research every day. For example, when we looked at lighting, we looked at makeup videos which are a gigantic share of the market.
    99.9 videos make the same mistakes over and over. I would not be surprised if YT can identify these mistake patterns and factor them in.
    My point about the big companies making ads disguised as art is going to be a real problem in the future--I don't see any way around that.
    All I'm saying is that the market is getting vastly more competitive, and YT is making some choices about ranking content, but one can still get into the market, so if you want to really get into the market, now is way better than later. It can change tomorrow.

  • @DrDave

    Under slanted PoV I mean that you constantly indirectly mean fair competition (yet harsh and for pennies) and Google above who manages this in common interests, it is not the case.

    In reality we can see monopoly in the modern form of aggregator, that it completely non transparent, uses private and constantly changing complex algorithms (btw, one of huge advantages of NN is legal one - it is almost impossible to prove and show intentional algorithm rigging, even very complex visualizations can be explained as "non ideal training set" or such :-).

    It won't be better, it'll be gradually worse. This year we already saw their white teeth in agreements changes, next year they'll put them in public use.

  • Here is the article. I'm just going to state unequivocally that the results are invalid because a substantial part of the underlying citations are more than ten years old. Ten years in YouTube is just way too old for study sources, data sets, &c. There's like a six month turnover, if that.
    That doesn't mean some of the stuff is off base; it just means that the methodology is hopelessly out of date.

  • Agree that the algorithms are not transparent, but there's so much data available it isn't hard to see the basics.

  • That study is completely meaningless.

    If you're savvy and talented, you can use the platform for free to promote your business, sell merch, tutorials and workshops and earn a six-figure income. What the article fails to mention is that of those 97% earning below poverty income from their channel (again false, because the researcher has no idea how much YouTubers earn other than perhaps YT advertising revenue, which can be relatively small compared to other sources of income generated by their channels), most either have no intention of earning their livelihood from YT alone and it's not their full-time career; and for those at the very bottom, it could just be that their content does not attract viewers because it's boring (mine for example!) LOL

    The study does not take into account the quality or usefulness of the channels, whether the creators put any time and effort into their thumbnails; if they included descriptions and proper tags; if they regularly examine their stats and take advantage of them; production value, or anything else for that matter.

  • @jonpais Agree, but I am concerned that in addition to flood of bad videos, I am seeing some really amazing stuff that gets tiny view numbers.

  • @DrDave Care to share one or two links?

  • @jonpais This vid had a very low view count for about a year, then started to jump up at 10x rate, and I have seen this happen before, like the vid has to prove itself:

    If this vid came out a few years ago it would be getting a ton of views. It may indeed pick up steam:

  • @DrDave I can’t believe those weren’t in my recommended list. hehe

  • @DrDave

    It has nothing to do with "proving", just another algorithm change made it into recommended list.

  • It could be--I have seen over the years more than 20 videos get a big initial bounce (subscribers is necessary for the first bounce), then go into stealth more for a year, then pop up to 10x or 20x the "sleep" number of views. But it only affects certain videos.....maybe 10 percent of all our videos.

  • @jonpais they will show up if you subscribe :)

  • @DrDave

    I suggest you to see some example of neural network visualizations (not network itself, but functions) to understand how messy it is.

    You do not see all this local minimums and maximums mess as channel properties play very significant role.

    As soon as you get video from big channel, slightly rename and cut 2 seconds and put on low popular channel - you will see how algorithm behavior will drastically change and suddenly most of such videos are no longer good and must not be recommended to anyone.

  • 99% of the channels I'm subscribed to were YT recommendations. And when I do a search, I'm much more likely to click on a video that has a lot of views rather than one with just a few. And when I do click on a video with few views, likes or subscribers, it's usually apparent why it has no subscribers.

  • One thing most people do not understand is that present Youtube approach is artificial, it is being won by corporations during hard but silent fight.

    In early internet days you could see power of society and self organizing groups linking to each other and making special links pages. Rings and so on. This is proper way to deal with lot of information and complexity.

    Idea to rely on complex algorithm owned by greedy people (who also tweak it and live be selling places in results) is very BAD idea.

  • Maybe it's time for YouTube to stop with it's monetisation programme altogether and go back to the way it was before. Use the platform for free publicity for your other ventures rather than as a means to an end in itself.

  • @Energy80s

    You mean that al of Youtube owners must suddenly get brain tumor? :-)

  • Youtube? I deleted my frequent-use account and hardly go there anymore

  • @robertGL So, all of those useful Youtube videos linked in this forum you skip as a matter of principle, or you just are not interested? Why does your account matter? Any of your views of any Youtube videos affect those evil algorithms. I don't understand.