“Money talks and the other stuff walks” goes one of those old nuggets of wisdom that’s true whether you’re working for The Man — or you’re a YouTube influencer watching audiences flock to the shiny, cool new platform and thinking about making the leap yourself.
In this case, that new platform is IGTV, Instagram’s nascent outlet for long-form video. A potential threat to YouTube, which is doing the stiff upper lip routine for now and insisting to Business Insider it ain’t scared and that it has “no new initiative in place” to keep its big stars like Lilly Singh and others from decamping to greener digital pastures.
BI’s reporting has turned up, however, something interesting: YouTube has been allegedly dangling five- and six-figure payouts to its top talent to keep them in place and cranking out new videos to feed the beast. The YouTube beast.
“Contracts have yet to be delivered, but this is about guaranteed money for ‘concurrent’ posting,” one Hollywood source told Business Insider. “It’s a case-by-case basis.”
Part of this is the natural rhythm of things. Part of it also may be a bit YouTube’s own fault, where a series of recent experiments and not communicating well with creators about them has apparently ticked off some of those creators, according to reports.
Responding to BI’s new report, a YouTube rep had this to say: “We have always invested in our creators’ success and will continue to do so to ensure they have a great experience and can find continued growth and opportunity on YouTube.”
It will definitely be interesting to watch this play out, and more specifically to see whether IGTV can emerge as an existential threat to YouTube, peeling away its creative talent. Or whether Facebook-owned Instagram will fumble the ball and be unable to capitalize on some obvious strengths here.
Phonearena.com correctly notes that some YouTube personalities “have always received hefty checks to lead YouTube members to new features. But that talk could be YouTube just whistling past the graveyard, not wanting to show its worry about competition from Instagram.”
Instagram has now hit 1 billion monthly users, and following someone on the photo-sharing service automatically follows them on IGTV. Marques Brownlee, the tech vlogger known as MKBHD, told The Verge that it’s a “chicken-and-egg thing” in terms of what makes a platform like this successful. Creators bring eyeballs to the platform, and eyeballs bring more creators.
“You can’t have a platform and no creators. You kind of have to work with each other, but it’s definitely a massively important reason why a platform can become successful.”