Chances of living off YouTube fame are slim

German Researches Discover Cashless Reality of YouTube Fame

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

Is it your dream to reach YouTube stardom? If it is, German researchers have some advice for you: give it up. Why do the Germans want to crush your dreams? They discovered the harsh reality that many of your top YouTube stars fail to mention.

With numerous YouTube stars living it up and showing off their Hollywood lifestyles, it is easy for aspiring artists to believe that they too can make it big on the video-sharing site. Even YouTube likes to toot its own horn by reporting statistics that claim the top channels are earning six figures in ad revenue each year.

If you dig deeper though, the truth begins to reveal itself, and that is what a group of researchers led by Mathias Bärtl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg, Germany finally did.

According to their findings, which took into account ten years of data from YouTube, those lucky enough to have their channel break into the top 3 percent (at least 1.4 million monthly views) can expect a hefty paycheck of $16,800 a year from the shared ad revenue. As Bloomberg News reported, that barely keeps a person above “the U.S. federal poverty line of $12,140 for a single person”.

Will Your YouTube Video Get Views?

And if that sad paycheck wasn’t enough to put an end to your YouTube dreams, this German team discovered that as more eyeballs keep flocking to the site, the odds of breaking into that 3 percent are getting harder than ever. That is because 90 percent of all YouTube views are split amongst the channels that fall into the 3 percent.

So how can some of the most successful YouTubers afford the glamorous lifestyles of the rich and famous? What Bärtl’s research didn’t take into account was the amount of money that can be earned through sponsorship deals.

YouTube’s most successful star, PewDiePie, had an estimated salary of $15 million in 2016, while some of the other success stories — Smosh, Germán Garmendia (HolaSoyGerman.), ElRubiusOMG, etc — are believed to be raking in a still impressive $5-7 million salary each year.

So can it be done? Success via YouTube? Sure… but don’t count on it.

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Sources: Mathias BärtlBloomberg

Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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