Analysis

YouTube stars PSY and Alex Day set for a merry Christmas 2012


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You, like us, have seen most of the big numbers for Korean star PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’, which at the time of writing is about to pass 900m views on YouTube. But what does that mean in terms of income for PSY? Associated Press has taken a stab at answering: $8.1m this year, with less than $60k of that coming from digital sales of his music in South Korea.

Where is his money coming from then? Video advertising firm TubeMogul reckons PSY’s share of YouTube ad revenues around the song comes to around $870k, while Nielsen SoundScan has recorded 2.9m (paid) downloads of ‘Gangnam Style’ in the US, which could be another $2.6m for PSY’s camp based on Apple’s revenue share.

But it’s commercial deals with brands like Samsung and LG that are generating most of his loot: an estimated $4.6m this year alone. All of this is highly speculative, but it’s still useful in the way it tries to relate YouTube success to actual revenues.

Another artist who’s hoping for a Google-fuelled Christmas bonus is British singer/songwriter Alex Day, who has more than 600k subscribers to his YouTube channel, and is earning around $1 per 1,000 views of his videos, which at 2.3m views in the last month, equates to just $2.3k, and that’s 75% of his earnings.

This is according to a Guardian profile of Day. He’s hoping to make more money from download sales, having famously sold 100k downloads in a week last year to reach number four in the UK’s Christmas singles chart.

This year he’s aiming for top spot – although given that the X Factor single is also a charity song, good luck with that. But PSY’s stats make us wonder when a British artist like Day will be courted by similarly large brands, which still seem to be the real source of riches for YouTube stars.

Stuart Dredge

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