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Get rich quick on YouTube?

14 November 2012

A little while ago, Google announced that it was going to spend millions of dollars to fund the creation of a bunch of new professional channels that, it clearly hoped, would become the equivalent of highly rated TV shows.

Apparently, the vast majority of those well-funded channels have failed to generate the audience that was anticipated.

As the Beatles so wisely said: "Money can buy you lots of lovin but money can't buy you love".

Aside from a tiny handful of channels which leverage contemporary pop music to ensure a regular viewership, most of the "contrived" content simply misses the target -- possibly because they're just trying too hard. Surely Google would have been able to see, from the eclectic nature of the most successful YouTube channels, that simply throwing money and high production values at an idea won't make it a runaway success.

So what does make for a successful YouTube channel?

I like to think that I can talk from a position of authority on such matters but even I am left constantly wondering how to improve my own audience figures and view-count.

One of the things that really pee's me off however, is the number of people who are pushing YouTube as a "get rich quick" way to make money. It just doesn't work that way.

The worst of these seem to be selling a package that will allow you to build a very popular YouTube channel that can be "monetized" to earn a regular income -- with virtually no work on the part of the channel owner.

How do they do this?

Simple -- they break Google's rules by simply re-uploading other popular videos that they download from other people's channels.

If you want to see how this works -- take a look at this YouTube search result.

Yes, this is exactly the same video which has been re-uploaded quite literally hundreds of times by people that are using this "get rich quick" formula. If you visit the various channels that have uploaded that video, you'll see that virtually all their videos are the same -- and they're all stolen.

It looks very much as if the developers of this scam, as part of the subscription, are mailing out a list of which videos should be stolen and re-uploaded at regular intervals.

Initially, the creators of this system were including some of my own videos in their "copy and upload" list but I've been vigilant in filing copyright complaints so that has stopped -- they've clearly marked my material as being too risky to pilfer. However, there are hundreds of other folk who are losing revenue to these scoundrels.

Just looking at how quickly the propagation of viral videos amongst these channels occurs, I strongly suspect that there's some kind of automated script involved so this is a case of paying your money and then doing nothing except wait for the revenue-share money to come rushing in.

Unfortunately for those who subscribe to a service like this, the views are pretty few and far between. Take a look at the ViralVidKid1 channel for instance. Just 349 video views in 7 days -- with most of the videos having a zero viewcount.

While I feel pretty pee'd off that people would feel they have a right to engage in such large-scale copyright infringement to try and make a dishonest dollar, I also feel somewhat sorry for them because once they get three copyright strikes against them, they lose their channel *and* their AdSense account -- with no chance of ever rejoining. In effect, they lose their chance to make any money from Google -- forever.

But is this any different to downloading movies or music from a P2P network?

Well yes, in my book it's worse -- not that I agree with unlawfully downloading any content.

However, when someone downloads a movie or music track for personal use, they're not attempting to leverage someone else's hard work for profit. When you download someone's YouTube video then re-upload it with the intention of earning money from it -- that is a far greater crime (IMHO).

I sure hope that YouTube wake-up to what's going on and nip it in the bud -- before too many naive people get caught up and before the instigators of the scam make off with too much money.

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