That’s the natural question to ask when reading that there are now “YouTube millionaires,” people who have partnered with the online video giant and take more than 50% of the ad revenue.
Google revealed last week that it is running ads against three billion videos a week on YouTube, up 50 percent from last year. That means the amount of cash it shares with its YouTube partners is going up as well. Google gives its content makers more than 50 percent of the ad money from their videos.
Hundreds of YouTube stars are making more than six figures, and hundreds more are making more than $40,000 a year — roughly the median salary in the US. There are even stars who have topped a million dollars, although the company wouldn’t say how many.
While it should remain obvious that these successful partners make up an extreme minority of all YouTube users — and that their success would be incredibly difficult to mimic — the lower barrier of entry that YouTube provides creates a kind of democratization of talent, one that will surely award at least some filmmakers who would not have had the luck that’s necessary to break into major media markets.