I’ll never forget the first time I saw Jack Conte. I was blown away by the sheer talent, creativity and originality that he and his girlfriend Nataly showed when making videos. I was an instant subscriber. It wasn’t long after that I learned that they made soap to help supplement their income and their love of music. So when I saw that Jack was giving the keynote address for today’s Playlist Live Business Day, I made sure to get up early so I wouldn’t miss it.
Monetizing YouTube Content
I could sum up a lot of what Jack had to say simply by saying Patreon. If you aren’t familiar with it, let me sum up. Essentially an artist (you got it Jack, I’ll refrain from calling them content creators just this once) asks their fans, or patrons, to give them money every time they make their art. That’s the deal, that’s it. So while the ad revenue on YouTube may value the average viewer at less than a fraction of a penny, regardless of how much they love your work, Pateron allows THEM to set the value of your art to them. Patreon has enabled artists like Jack to earn nearly $5000 per video. To pull something like that off from YouTube revenue alone, Jack would have to average upwards of 2.5 million views per video with an average CPM!
I really feel like Patreon, and similar sites like Subbable, have solved the issues that Jason Calacanis put forth in his Vidcon keynote last August (see video below). Rather than putting full faith in an ad based system, a system that rewards the ability to “get eyeballs” on a video, Jack is suggesting that we value art and the people that create it. What a novel concept. The only barrier to this wonderful idea is educating the masses, which isn’t easy to do.
From my interviews and interactions with the people here at Playlist, I have witnessed first-hand that the artists (also known as content creators) love their fans and their fans love them. I watched as Tim DeLaGhetto took upwards of 10 minutes to walk through Tower 2. Not because he’s a slow walker, but because the halls were packed with fans just wanting a picture with him. He’d take a step, then take another picture and then take a step and so on. I got to watch because I couldn’t get through. I did not get a picture. I also nearly got hip checked into a rose bush. Not because I was playing a rousing game of Playlist hockey, but because a YouTube star that I’m completely unaware of was trying to walk down the sidewalk. The loyal army that was chasing him down didn’t care who was in their path.
I spent some time at the Business Day reception with the mother of a teenage YouTuber who came here not just as a creator, but as a fan. She was absolutely stunned by the entire convention. That not only could her daughter learn how to turn her hobby into a career, but that she could attend something similar to a One Direction concert at the same time.
And you can forget about Playlist being Vidcon’s little sister or YouTube’s best kept secret or whatever you want to call it. She’s all grown up now. The last count I heard was that over 8000 attendees were here this year and that they were already overbooked at the current location and would have to move the convention for 2015. I overheard countless attendees and their parents (yes, most attendees have parents with them) talking about how Playlist was so much busier this year and how it was so much harder to just approach your favorite crush.
So why should the industry be beholden to the ad agencies and the dwindling ad revenue that supports it? We have everything we need right here. Because the most important part of online video, and specifically YouTube, is the people and the connections we make. And for me, that connection is priceless.