The YouTube Article

They pay.

That’s the number one question I get, HOW DO I GET PAID?

Actually, that’s two questions in one. How do you, the reader, get paid and secondarily, how do I, Bob Lefsetz, get paid.

I’m not gonna answer the second. But I will say power is more interesting to me than money. And fame is overrated. There are many wealthy people who have no impact on the discussion. And people like Snooki and Paris Hilton have such short shelf lives. But if money is your primary concern, go on YouTube.

My understanding is they find you. It’s all mysterious, how much YouTubers receive from parent company Google. It seems to be the way of the Web, why we hate Spotify so much and root for Google to fail. Despite its "Don’t Be Evil" mantra, Google is an odious empire with all our data that cares not a whit about anyone but itself, and, for the record, contrary to what Mitt Romney may claim, corporations are not people.

But if you’ve got more desire than talent, if you believe in ingenuity and hard work, if you don’t know how to code, if you’ve got no uncle in the entertainment business, your best option is to build up your YouTube count.

YouTube is harsh. That’s where you find out if someone has any followers or not. Sure, you can game the system, but most of these wannabes don’t have the money to pay for that. You see they live outside the system. That’s their calling card. That’s why people flock to them.

It’s an intimate medium. It’s just you and the viewer. Which is why so many YouTube clips are about speaking directly to the viewer. Who is lonely, despite the sunniness on TV, and wants a friend, someone to believe in.

And the YouTubers are accessible. They’re the opposite of superstars. Post a comment and they’ll get back to you.

Not that I expect any of these YouTubers to become household names…

You see now we live in a two-tiered system, professional and wannabe. And it’s harder than ever to fly up the ranks, but today wannabe isn’t what it once was. Used to be if you weren’t signed to a label you were toast, you had no impact. Now you can get your music on iTunes via Tunecore, rally your troops via Facebook and sing your songs on YouTube.

Yes, YouTube is the new radio. That’s where kids go to hear tunes. That’s why Spotify is failing. Spotify is so busy trying to placate the old guard, the labels and the ancient artists, that they’ve been completely ignored by kids. Kids don’t need Spotify, they’ve got all the music, for free, at their fingertips, on YouTube.

YouTube is more powerful than any network, bigger than any newspaper… It may all be niches, but in the aggregate..!

And the biggest clips have hundreds of millions of views. They’ve got greater penetration than any TV show, most songs…

You want to get in on the action.

Anybody can play. Video gear is cheap and posting is free.

The ‘Tubers in this article first and foremost want to work for themselves, they desire freedom. And art is secondary to views. They need views.

They’re smarter than almost every musician who e-mails me.

If you’re truly great, all you’ve got to do is put your wares online. People will find you and spread the word, there’s very little phenomenal stuff and we’re trolling for it all the time. We want to tell people about great stuff, it makes us feel good.

And we want to tell people about Rebecca Black’s "Friday", because sometimes train-wreck is great. But those are one hit wonders… How do you get people to continue to pay attention?

One of these ‘Tubers had been on "Ellen". I’ve never heard of her, or was it him, I’ve already forgotten. You see it’s not about being on TV or in the paper, there’s too much info, it all goes by too fast, but building your tribe.

Get your tribe to follow you on YouTube, then you’ll get paid.

And if you’ve got no tribe, you’re screwed. Because the pros find people to invest in by scouring the Internet for those with tribes. It’s not about knocking on their doors, but waiting for them to find you because you’re so damn big. Hell, isn’t that how Perez Hilton made it?

And Perez is just the point. He’s talentless. But a brilliant self-promoter. He’s the poster boy for the age! He’s something the boomers can’t understand, they can just profit off of him after he’s already made a dent.

And will those who make a dent in the future sell out or stay independent?

I don’t know.

A great artist wants to be rescued. He wants someone else to do the heavy lifting. He just wants to stay home and create.

But despite all the carping about the need to do social networking, very few of these "artists" are great. Sure, we want to follow McCartney and Gaga, but all the middling artists have been dragged down by the wannabes. They were never that good, they were just the only thing available. Now, with diversions, we just don’t care.

These ‘Tubers have money, fans, they’ve built what the rock stars of yore desired, independence, albeit on a very small scale.

The big YouTube channels are gonna fail. Because the people YouTube gave the money to don’t understand the medium. It would be like giving classical musicians money to make rock records.

Everything’s up for grabs.

But a guy who interviews metal musicians can make $4,000 a month. Wow, if people were making this much, they’d stop e-mailing me!

And corporations will pay you six figures to create commercials. Because they want your audience.

My head is spinning. Do you sell out, tie in with the professionals, or just go your own way and invent it as you go along?

I’m not sure.

But I can tell you despite all the press hoopla nobody wants to see Neil Young’s movie or buy his album of American standards. What a cheap shot. Even he’s desperate.

You see it’s almost impossible to get traction.

Which is why these ‘Tubers are starting at the bottom, working ’round the clock, trying to build something, which is so hard to sustain even if you erect it.

It’s like a Firesign Theatre record come to life. Everything you know is wrong.

You’ve got to read this article. It will leave you with so many more questions than answers.

Comments are closed