Why not copy YouTube’s good idea?

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. This is a collection of past column.

This week, On Tech will look at the economics of what is sometimes called the internet creative economy. There are people who are so good at entertainment or information online that they try to make it a job. What you like best comedian on Instagram, food tree on TikTokor YouTube stuntman are creators.

Some of you may think: That is a job? That is. These online experts are testing the Internet’s promise in allowing anyone to make a living from creative pursuits. We are entertained by the work of creators, and they influence what we buy, the music we listen to, and the way products are advertised.

Internet professionals are also spearheading what works and what doesn’t with digital life as we know it. Many creators are now saying they want to share the wealth of companies online – and we should listen.

Let me back up.

We mainly work for free on the internet.

There is no Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok or Reddit without the posts, memes, and gardening groups we voluntarily make. Several people have figured out how to monetize online popularity, including sell goods, paid by fans and signing promotional transactions in addition to the major sites on the internet.

But don’t all online stars – and maybe the rest of us who post online – also share in the wealth of internet companies?

YouTube has found a way. Since 2007, the Google site has been selling ads on YouTube and giving more than half of the money to video creators, when they reach a popularity. As YouTube makes more money, so do those video producers.

Other companies, notably Facebook and streaming site Twitch, cuts out a small number of video makers who make money from their ads. But YouTube remains the only major digital service that systematically redistributes a large portion of its revenue to the creators of its products.

Last week, Internet celebrity Hank Green make a video compare how much he gets paid on YouTube (good) with what he gets paid from TikTok (not so good), yes share the one-time amount to the creator which the company manufactures according to a complex formula.

Green’s point is that as TikTok earns more, creators earn a smaller share of what the company effectively delivers. Implicit in his video is the question of why so many companies don’t do what YouTube does and share a sizable chunk of their ad revenue.

All the internet companies now say that creators play an important role in keeping users entertained and loyal, and they are trying to make it easier. fans pay creators or buy their products.

That’s all that might be useful. But internet companies mostly make money from advertising. Green imagines creators banding together to drive many of these companies to share their ad dollars directly with the people who stock their virtual shelves all the time. It can create a healthier and more flexible online life for all of us as well as better jobs for those trying to make a living from their online jobs.

“There is a business case for doing revenue sharing and there is also a case for fairness,” Green told me.

Green in his video points out that since YouTube ads run in most videos, it’s easier for YouTube to split ad dollars among creators. It will be more difficult for TikTok, Instagram or other sites not to use ads in the same way. YouTube’s revenue share model is also an option available only to the most popular video producers.

Green knew that YouTube-style revenue sharing wouldn’t be the cure for all that was wrong with the Internet. And like any workforce, not all creators want the same thing. Some people agree with Green that YouTube-style revenue sharing is a good way for them to make more stable money and more sustainable life. Others said they liked TikTok’s creator fund or how Twitch allows people to monetize live videos.

Investor Li Jin told me that the best path to healthy digital economies is not for internet companies to redistribute their income differently, but remove the absolute power of companies over online creative work.

There’s also an argument made by financial mercenaries: Why would any company put money in if they weren’t? There will always be some young people who want to happily earn things online for nothing.

But this is a time when the established norms of the Internet are being called into question. Let’s extend that to the economics of who gets paid and for what, to keep the internet interesting and useful for all of us.

Come on Wednesday: Apple’s app commissions erode creators’ earnings. And fifth: How an online character makes money from digital work, trillions of different ways.

This Great Horned Owl holding delicious eggs on a windy day. (The bunches of ears flying in the wind are just too much.) Why not copy YouTube’s good idea?

Fry Electronics Team

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