YouTube Shorts’ ad revenue math will do your head in

Started on February 1st, YouTube will share ad revenue with Shorts creators after covering its music licensing costs. However, the revenue sharing programme seems more complicated than that of TikTok or even YouTube’s traditional video sharing programme. Honestly, I watched a video on it and it was almost as painful as doing taxes. 

Unlike TikTok however, the eligibility requirements to receive revenue are nowhere near as strict. Essentially any creator uploading vertical videos of 60 seconds or shorter is eligible for the programme as long as they have 1,000 or more subscribers and they’re traditional YouTube videos must have generated 4,000 public watch hours or 10 million Shorts views in the past 90 days. Furthermore, the views only count if they’re watched from YouTube’s Shorts feed tab. So for example, if a user watches the video on someone’s profile, it doesn’t count. 

The formula YouTube has devised for determining how much each creator will make for their Shorts is complicated due to the involvement of music licensing. As YouTube users watch Shorts, the company will display ads between clips in the Shorts Feed. YouTube says the money generated by those ads will go towards paying music licensing companies and creators through a shared pool the company will divide out at the end of each month.

Publishers and creators are due to receive 45% of the ad revenue generated by a YouTube Short. This is a 10% decrease seeing that traditional YouTube videos promise creators 55%. Even then, creators are unlikely to receive a dead 45% after YouTube has taken out tax and music licensing fees. 

To break it down, if a Short uses one song then the creator is credited for 50% of the views and the artist and their label for the other 50%. If a Short uses two songs then the creator is credited with 33% and each song is credited with 33.5%. If a Short uses no music, then the creator gets 100% of the view count credits. 

For this reason, YouTube has created a Creator Pool. This contains the amount of ad revenue leftover after YouTube pays tax and music licensing costs. 

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