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YouTube introduces paid channel memberships and merchandising options for creators

YouTube has announced a number of new features designed to help creators diversify their revenue streams beyond the pre-roll video and banner advertising to include paid channel memberships and merchandise.

Advertising has long been the sole source of “official” revenue for YouTube’s growing community of video-makers, but after the recent issues surrounding extremist content on the site that caused a number of brand-name advertisers pull their ads, it has become increasingly clear to those that make a living from the video platform that diversification was required.

Prior to Google’s announcement about the new features last month, a number of YouTubers had already turned to membership platform Patreon and merchandising to generate additional revenue streams. Nonetheless, the changes have been welcomed by creators across the board who had feared that YouTube would remained tied to an advertising-only revenue stream that looks increasingly out-of-date in today’s media marketplace that has become dominated by premium subscriptions.

Creators with more than 100,000 subscribers can now offer subscriptions to their channels for $4.99/£4.99 per month, where their fans can enjoy a variety of perks from custom emojis for live chats to secret videos or almost anything else they can imagine.

YouTube’s Director of Product Management, Rohit Dhawan, who heads alternative monetization at the video streaming site, told TechCrunch:
“It’s kind of like a blank canvas…it’s us giving the creators the tools to customize their membership offering and provide whatever perks that they feel is going to be valuable to the fans.”

The merchandising options are broad as well, with fans of Lucas the Spider treated to the chance to purchase a plushie of the cute arachnid, which YouTube says sold more than 60,000 units in 18 days, generating over $1m in profit for animator Joshua Slice.

YouTube hopes that these additional revenue streams will give creators more control over how they earn money from their videos online and will continue to drive up overall revenues for creators. Over the last year, the number of creators earning five figures a year is up 35 percent, and the number of those earning six figures is up by 40 percent, and these new revenue streams should continue that trend upwards.

Photograph by FreeStocks

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