Social Media

YouTube to Pay $100 Million to Creators Using its TikTok Competitor

YouTube plans to pay $100 million to creators who use YouTube Shorts, its TikTok competitor, throughout the next year. The goal is to encourage creators to pick up and continually post to its new service, which doesn’t otherwise give creators a built-in way to make money.

YouTube started launching Shorts in the US in March. The short videos appear in YouTube’s mobile app and, just like TikTok (or Instagram Reels or Snapchat Spotlight), you can swipe from one to the next in an endless full-screen feed.

In addition, YouTube is opening the fund to any video maker on its site who follows its guidelines, not just those eligible for the advertising program, the company said Tuesday in a blog post.

The fund for Shorts creators is the latest entry in a social media bidding war for online personalities spurred by the success of Bytedance Ltd.’s TikTok. Snap Inc. launched a new fund last fall for top performers of its video product. Facebook Inc. has tried to lure stars and copied features from TikTok, and introduced more ads on its shorter videos.

Exactly how much creators can earn is still up in the air. YouTube says that it’ll reach out to creators on a monthly basis, looking for people with the most engagement and views. “Thousands” of creators could get paid each month, YouTube says, and basically anyone who posts to Shorts is eligible. The one caveat is that their videos have to be original content, and, of course, abide by YouTube’s community guidelines.

Other companies have taken the same approach to encouraging creators to stick with their platform. TikTok launched a $200 million creators fund in July 2020, and Snapchat paid out $1 million per day for a period of time after its TikTok competitor, Spotlight, launched in November 2020.

Payments will be available in the US and India — the two regions Shorts has launched — to start, but YouTube plans to expand its availability as it rolls out the service to more regions. There’s no specific date yet for when YouTube will start offering payments. YouTube says the fund will last from its start this year through some point in 2022.

YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, recruited TikTok stars, too. And with its fund announcement, YouTube is expanding features to make it easier to shoot footage for Shorts. Part of TikTok’s success has been the ease of making videos on smartphones.

YouTube has been funding creators well before its social media rivals. The company has split ad sales with its video makers for more than a decade, spurring a business that generated $19 billion in ad sales last year as well as many moderation hassles. In 2018, YouTube restricted the number of creators after a flurry of brand safety mishaps. It hasn’t landed on a revenue model for Shorts yet.

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