There's gold in them thar YouTubes! People are making literally thousands of dollars a month! What a fluttery Times trend piece doesn't say: Most of YouTube is a creative desert with zero moneymaking potential.
The star of the Times piece is Michael Buckley, a fast-talking and overbearingly gay celebrity commentator — think Ted Casablanca, if Ted Casablanca lived in Connecticut. Buckley says he makes $100,000 a year on YouTube ads. Google sells the ads and splits the revenue with Buckley, as it does with other video creators it has dubbed "partners."
It just gets worse from there, if you're looking for online originals. Take "Fred," the most-subscribed partner with 700,000-some regular viewers. A guy pretends to be a six-year-old, Fred Figglehorn, who speaks with an Alvin and the Chipmunks voice. (Yes, that's the extent of the schtick.)
These crap shows are the future of moneymaking on the Web — trite reworkings of tropes that we first watched in basic-cable reruns, lying on the floor of our dens?
If it's bad news for the culture, take schadenfreudian delight in the thought that it's bad news for Google, too, which spent $1.65 billion buying YouTube and is thought to be shelling out hundreds of millions more a year on servers and bandwidth.
At least Google can sell ads on partner videos. Most of the clips on YouTube are of such questionable ownership and quality that Google doesn't dare sell ads next to them. A Google spokesman says "hundreds of YouTube partners are making thousands of dollars a month." Well, that's vague enough, but it tells us that Google's annual take from these videos runs somewhere in the tens of millions of dollars. It turns out that crappy video is a crappy business. Justice!