The latest gold rush in digital video? Short, shareable video clips — like those popularized by Vine half a decade ago, before Twitter shut down the Vine app.
YouTube, the world’s biggest video platform, announced the YouTube Shorts Fund, a $100 million pool of money it’s promising to distribute to creators of the most-engaging clips of its new TikTok-style feature. YouTube expects the program to kick off in the fall of 2021 and continue into 2022.
For now, YouTube Shorts isn’t being monetized but the company expects to start experimenting on that front sometime this year, including testing out ads. It first rolled out Shorts in India last fall and then opened it up to users in the U.S. in March.
“Since Shorts is a new way to watch and create on YouTube, we’ve been taking a fresh look at what it means to monetize and reward creators for their content,” Amy Singer, director of global partnership enablement for YouTube Shorts, wrote in a blog post.
Full details on how the YouTube Shorts Fund will work will be coming later. According to Singer, on a monthly basis, YouTube will “reach out to thousands of creators whose Shorts received the most engagement and views” — and pay them some unspecified amount. Those creators also will be asked for direct feedback as YouTube continues to tweak the Shorts product.
The YouTube Creator Fund comes after Snap last year launched Snapchat Spotlight — a program under which it’s paying creators $1 million per day for their short TikTok-style videos submitted for public consumption.
The leader of the short-form video renaissance has been TikTok, the hugely popular Chinese-owned app that started out as a way to record and share lip-syncing videos. That’s prompted other copycats to jump on board, including Facebook’s Instagram (with “Instagram Reels”).
The growth of YouTube Shorts has been explosive. In discussing YouTube on the first-quarter earnings call, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said YouTube Shorts had 6.5 billion daily views in March (after it had made landfall in the U.S.), up from 3.5 billion at the end of 2020.
The new YouTube Shorts Fund is separate from YouTube’s longstanding ad-revenue sharing program (called the YouTube Partner Program). To be eligible to participate in the Shorts Fund payouts, according to YouTube, you don’t need to be enrolled in YPP — you just need to create original content for YouTube Shorts and follow the service’s community guidelines.
“YouTube has helped an entire generation of creators and artists turn their creativity into businesses, paying more than $30 billion to creators, artists and media companies over the last three years,” Singer wrote. “The Shorts Fund is just the first step in our journey to build a long-term monetization model for Shorts on YouTube.”
Earlier this year, YouTube previewed a new feature that will Shorts users to remix audio from videos across the entire corpus of YouTube — a feature that is starting to roll out to everyone who has access to the Shorts creation tools. (YouTube channel owners are able to opt out if they don’t want their long-form video remixed.)
YouTube also has been steadily adding new features to YouTube Shorts. Some of those include automatically adding captions; recording up to 60 seconds with the Shorts camera; adding clips from your phone’s camera roll to your recordings; and using basic filters to color-correct videos.