Outlined in its Creator Preview video, YouTube is looking to offer creators crowdfunding functionality for their content. In an incredibly (e.g. overpoweringly) chummy video, it accepts that “a lot of this [crowd]funding happens off YouTube” so they say they are currently thinking of ways that can “do this directly on YouTube, allowing fans to fund the creators they really love”. Beyond that, however, it has not outlined any specifics or how that might actually work in practice. The company is also looking at ways to improve monetisation of content, especially around ad sales, and is developing an app to let creators managed their channels remotely. The company – against a backdrop of record company and trade body complaints about its licensing strategy, its licensing rates and its attitude to IP protection – is heavily courting the creator community and presenting itself as being on their side. Given that it has over 1bn monthly users, YouTube is the first stop for most audiences when looking for content (especially music) online, so the crowdfunding functionality could have significant impact as, to drag up that hoary old marketing phrase, it lets creators fish where the fish are. This complex relationship between Google/YouTube and creators on one hand and copyright owners on the other is not going to be simplified any time soon – with different tensions defining and shaping how it evolves.

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