YouTube has quickly become the “go to” website for watching and streaming videos. Started in 2005 by three former employees of PayPal, YouTube was bought by Google in 2006 and has become more and more popular. Celebrities are now capitalizing on the video site by using it post their latest videos and news updates. But celebrities aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits of YouTube; regular users, who would otherwise have likely remained entirely anonymous, have found fame through uploading videos in their spare time – and forging a media career born on the site. YouTube provides a venue for people to share their talents, their voices, and build an audience of their own.
Now with the introduction of revenue sharing from linking advertisements and endorsements to videos, just about anyone has the potential to make money on YouTube. But truth be told, it takes someone special to maintain a successful career of posting videos on the website. Many people have reached celebrity status with their regular video updates receiving millions of views. These YouTube celebrities have built their own fan bases and have even gone on to release with their own albums and books or, in some cases, star in Hollywood movies. One of the most notable YouTube success stories is that of the Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber – record executives discovered the teen on the video sharing site through his homemade music videos.
With the development of the YouTube partner program, users can earn anything from 70c to, in the best case scenario, $7 dollars per 1,000 views or ‘CPM’ – assuming every viewer watched a pre-roll advertisement. This also explains the rise of those commercials that appear before your video plays. Every time you hit the play button on a popular video someone is earning money, and the video uploader stands to gain profit. Not every uploader qualifies for the partner program, though, as there is a required number of followers needed before being able to sign up.
As YouTube keeps getting bigger, so too do its self-made stars. When a creative and unique entertainer has something exciting to offer, he or she can use YouTube as a democratic platform to promote their work. YouTube has become a legitimate avenue for achieving financial stability and a fan following from the comfort of one’s own home.
We’ve collated information on YouTube’s biggest stars – according to their number of views and their rankings on socialblade, a statistics site which collates a variety of factors to establish the most influential Youtubers – to to bring you the estimated earnings of 10 of YouTube’s wealthiest entrepreneurs (based on the $7 per thousand views assumption) who went from simply uploading videos in their bedroom to cultivating genuine celebrity status, expanding their blogging habit into fame and fortune.
10. Epic Rap Battles – $5.7 million (818 million views)
All it took was an idea between two friends and a budget of roughly $50 per episode in the early days. Peter “Nice Peter” Shukoff and Lloyd “EpicLLOYD” Ahlquist started ‘Epic Rap Battles’ in September 2010 with the concept of historical figures rapping against each other. Before the videos were conceived, they recorded several singles – including one featuring the murderous doll Chucky versus Michael J. Fox – which were never released. Instead, the first official single was John Lennon vs. Bill O’Reilly, which was a hit. But it wasn’t until the second video, Darth Vadar vs. Adolf Hitler, that Shukoff’s and Ahlquist’s YouTube channels would boom in popularity. In 2011, Epic Rap Battles (ERB) got a channel of its own, and the channel remains as popular as ever. In their third season, the boys have even gathered participation from celebrities, driving revenue and popularity through the ceiling.