YouTube will pay creators up to $10,000 per month for making popular videos on its TikTok competitor, YouTube Shorts. The company plans to pay $100 million throughout the next year, with the first payments going out this month.
The fund could mean a whole lot of cash for creators, but payouts aren’t guaranteed. The popularity needed to earn money will depend on just how many people are making and watching Shorts each month, and payouts will also depend on where each creator’s audience is located.
YouTube is also requiring these to be original videos. Reuploads and videos tagged with watermarks from other platforms — aka TikTok, Snapchat, or Reels — will disqualify a channel for payments. The payments are only available in 10 regions for now, including the US, UK, India, and Brazil, among others, and YouTube says it plans on expanding that list “in the future.”
Creators have traditionally gotten paid on YouTube based on the ads that run in front of their videos, with there being a direct relationship between the number of ad views and the amount of money they receive. But with Shorts, YouTube doesn’t want to run an ad in front of every quick clip, so it’s building out this alternate form of payment to reward creators.
The Shorts Fund will eventually be replaced with a “long-term, scalable monetization program,” Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, said on today’s episode of Decoder. The fund is “a way to get going and to actually really start to figure out” how monetization should work for creators making these videos. “You’re essentially consuming a feed of shorts, and so the model has to work differently,” Mohan said.
Payment schemes like this have become increasingly common. TikTok and Snapchat both pay out to creators based on the popularity of their videos, rather than based on ads. The result is potentially lucrative for creators, though there’s less transparency on how much creators may earn any given month.
For YouTube, the fund offers a way to kickstart its late-in-the-game effort at a short-form video service. Though TikTok has a huge head start, YouTube is, at the end of the day, YouTube — an enormous and hugely popular video platform — which could give it an edge as it tries to spin up Shorts.
Mohan indicated that YouTube wouldn’t require creators to use Shorts in order to boost their overall engagement on the platform. “Our goal there is to give every creator a voice,” Mohan said on Decoder. “If the creator wants to do that through a two-hour documentary about a particular topic they’re passionate about, then YouTube should be the place for that. If they want to do that through a 15-second Short, that mixes in their favorite hit from their favorite music artists, they should be able to do that.”