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YouTube expands money-making features with Channel Memberships


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YouTube’s latest announcement is about its full community of creators, rather than just musicians. It’s one to take notice of though: especially for anyone working with independent, emerging artists who are building an audience on YouTube as part of their growth.

The news is a series of new and expanded features announced at the VidCon 2018 creator conference. Channel Memberships, for example, are YouTube taking another crack at fan-funding subscriptions on its platform.

Individual channel subscriptions didn’t take off the first time they were deployed, but now YouTube is planning to expand its revamped Channel Memberships to eligible channels with more than 100,000 subscribers (as in people following the channel) in the near future. The idea is that fans can pay $4.99 a month to get badges and emojis to use in the chat section of an individual channel; to see members-only posts (or even personal shout-outs) from its creator; and to get access to exclusive livestreams and videos.

It’s an idea we’ve seen tried before in artist-branded mobile apps in the past, albeit usually without much success, but we’re intrigued to see whether any emerging musicians can run with these features on YouTube now.

YouTube says that one of the early testers of Channel Memberships, comedian Mike Falzone, managed to more-than triple his YouTube revenue as a result. There’s scope for something here for vlog-friendly artists doing more than simply uploading music videos to YouTube, perhaps.

Also expanding: YouTube’s merchandise offering, via its partnership with Teespring. Eligible US-based channels with more than 10,000 subscribers will be able to create their own merch ranges, picking from more than 20 possible items, and sell them via a ‘shelf’ on their channel.

Animator Joshua Slice, who’s behind the popular Lucas the Spider videos, sold more than 60,000 plushie toys in 18 days, making $1m in the process, according to YouTube.

Not that many music artists are quite as plushieable as a cute baby spider, we grant you. But all of this is a reminder that the topic of ‘artists making money from YouTube’ has a layer beyond the royalties paid out for music videos (and the ‘value gap’ debate that goes with it) and the new YouTube Music Premium subscription service.

The fan-funding and direct-to-consumer side of YouTube is significantly more interesting now than even a year ago – and artists who operate a bit more like YouTube creators could take advantage.

Stuart Dredge

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