YouTube has become one of the most democratic distribution platforms on the internet. Anyone with a camera and an internet connection can upload, and (if their content is good enough) achieve acclaim. A low budget original program called Money and Violence has shot up in popularity since its launch in August, a demonstration how important original web content has become.
Money and Violence was created by Moise Verneau, and all 24 episodes were released on the Cloud9TV YouTube channel over seven months. Verneau told Digital Trends that he was aware his project would have to be a self-starter, because the content of the show is unlike the traditional gang-violence narratives of television.
Most of the episodes have received more than 300,000 views each, and Digital Trends reports that there may be some interest from companies like Netflix in taking the show to a more mainstream audience. However, Verneau said he and his cast are ready to avoid television and do it independently in order to keep the show’s authenticity. Still, the truckloads of YouTube money aren’t rolling in yet.
Money and Violence is an example of creator-started independent projects on YouTube that can achieve success. YouTube has been trying to foster the creatives its network attracts, either through exclusive content agreements, or through direct project funding. Given that YouTube stars are more popular than Hollywood stars in some cases, it’s a wise move.
As the video market gets more competitive, and bigger companies move in, it’s clear that independent content is an attractive investment. If Money and Violence is able to attract an even larger audience, the possibility exists for it to transition easily to the mainstream. That said, with Woody Allen working for Amazon, and Spike Lee releasing a Kickstarted movie on Vimeo, it’s hard to say what the mainstream is anymore.