New light on how Youtube works with its top video producers has been shed by The Wall Street Journal.
The paper’s profile of Youtube creator Swoozie, who happens to be known chiefly for animated videos, tracks his rise through the burgeoning creator economy. It gives interesting details on how the video platform remunerates creators, and how it manages them through its fast-growing agency services.
A picture emerges of a new model for paying indie animators (and other creators) that is flexible yet increasingly controlled, risky yet potentially very lucrative. And it isn’t unique to Youtube: as the Journal notes, rival platforms, from Tiktok to Snapchat, are developing their own creator management strategies.
Here are six key takeaways from the article:
- Youtube has in-house advisors who work with its top creators. It employs over 1,000 partnership managers, and is hiring more. Each works with 10–20 creators (some 12,000 in total) to shape their content and overall business strategy.
- Swoozie ditched CAA for a Youtube advisor. He hired the Hollywood agency in 2015, but left it to work with Youtube’s Audrey Eatherly “because, he says, it was more expedient to work directly with Youtube.” Partnership managers don’t charge a commission for their services, whereas CAA takes around 10% of clients’ income. However, Swoozie will find himself without representation should he switch focus from Youtube to another platform.
- Youtube subsidizes its top creators’ expenses. The company gave Swoozie $3,500 to buy a high-end camera and other equipment. It later granted him another $100,000, which he used to hire more animators.
- Swoozie’s advisor nudged him back toward animation after he branched out into live-action vlogging in early 2020. As subscribers deserted him, “in March of last year, Ms. Eatherly held several meetings with [Swoozie] and suggested he return to his traditional style.”
- Ad sales on Youtube generated nearly $20 billion last year. That amounts to almost 11% of the total revenue of Alphabet, its parent company, which also owns Google. This kind of money suggests Youtube will continue to remain invested in the success of its top creators.
- Swoozie has earned as much as $900,000 in a year from ad revenue on Youtube, according to third-party analytics firm Social Blade. Creators enrolled in the platform’s Partner Program take 55% of ad sales. Social Blade’s figure is an estimate, but it’s worth noting that top creators can have other revenue streams too, such as merchandising and sponsorships.
In one of his most popular videos, “Confessions of a Disney Employee” (image at top), Swoozie recalls his experiences working at Walt Disney World. It has been viewed more than 24 million times to date. Watch it below: