OK Go Manager Likens YouTube Revenue To Finding Change On The Street

By Megan O'Neill 

We’ve all heard the rumors that some of YouTube’s top partners are making 6-figure incomes, so with over 158 million views on their channel you’d expect that OK Go is making quite a killing from the video site, right?  Wrong.  According to manager Jamie Kitman, the actual money that the band is making from YouTube revenue is hardly substantive.

Digital Music News quotes Kitman as telling a SF MusicTech Summit audience, “I can speak to an artist who gets a lot of traffic, which is OK Go.  And I would say that ‘trickle’ is the operative word, in terms of revenue we receive from places like YouTube and VEVO.”  He says that, “the YouTube revenue is so small based on how many streams we’ve done that I would say that it’s not a business model, it’s like finding change on the street.”

Of course, I think it’s important to point out that when YouTubers talk about making six-figure incomes they aren’t just referring to ad revenue.  Most of the top YouTubers also make good money creating branded videos.  Brands like Carl’s Junior, Pop-Tarts, Ford, Kia, Hasbro and others have paid popular YouTube personalities with larger subscriber bases to promote them through their videos.  While YouTubers aren’t getting paid directly through YouTube for these sorts of campaigns, they wouldn’t really be given these opportunities if not for their YouTube success.

OK Go, a band that made its name through a succession of crazy original videos that go viral every time, has also jumped on the bandwagon of creating branded viral videos, teaming up with State Farm and most recently Chevrolet.  However, Kitman points out that these sorts of partnerships are not easy to come by.  “It’s great to get Chevrolet to sponsor your video – a million dollars to go make something insane – but the precedent, the first step is to get 175 million downloads, and not everyone can do that.”

It’s nice that for a change someone is actually being honest about the difficulty of making a killing on YouTube videos alone.  I’ve read far too many articles that make it seem like it’s easy to make a living off of making YouTube videos and it’s certainly not.

That being said, without any actual numbers it’s hard to say how accurate Kitman’s assessment of YouTube revenue being like finding change on the street actually is.  The amount of revenue that seems good to a popular band may be quite different from the amount of revenue that seems good to a video creator putting together weekly videos in his basement.  What are your thoughts?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

And while we’re on the subject of OK Go, check out their awesome Chevrolet-sponsored video below, which has gone viral over the past couple of weeks and has 15 million YouTube views so far.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.