Fans can now contribute money directly to their favorite channels on YouTube, bringing crowdfunding to the world's largest video site. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki unveiled the feature, one of several new products, during her keynote presentation at VidCon, an annual convention for the online video industry.
Many YouTube channels and stars already use crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise funds. Freddie Wong has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for every season of "Video Game High School" while Rooster Teeth has raised more than $1.7 million thus far in a campaign that has ten days left.
YouTube is not trying to steal business from Kickstarter or Indiegogo, the two largest crowdfunding platforms. It released a new interactive card that will link to a campaign on other sites. YouTube's new feature also limits fans' contributions to $500.
Yet it wants to enable creators big and small to get some help from their fans.
"Any viewer can show any creator their love by tipping them $1, $5, even as much as $500," Wojcicki said.
The fan-funding initiative was one of several tweaks to YouTube unveiled Thursday. People can now credit everyone they worked with on a video, and find free music from an audio library loaded with sound effects. Smaller businesses have already popped up to offer similar services to creators, but YouTube decided to offer the abilities on its own.
Wojcicki cited three primary objectives for YouTube in the year ahead: engaging a global audience, generating more revenue and strengthening music as YouTube moves towards offering a subscription service.
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These goals explain a few new initiatives:
>> Fans can now subtitle videos in other languages, a nod to the increasingly global audience on YouTube. YouTube's audience is bigger outside the United States than within it.
"Even though 60 percent of your views on average come from outside your home country, not all of YouTube's users can understand your videos," Wojcicki said.
>> YouTube's campaign to promote its stars with advertisements in major cities will continue by supporting Vice. Wojcicki said the campaign doubled awareness of Michelle Phan, tripled Bethany Mota and quadrupled awareness of Rosanna Pansino.
"It will help advertisers get even more comfortable with YouTube, meaning more ad dollars spent on YouTube, giving all of you even more room to grow your fan bases and businesses," Wojcicki said.
>> YouTube and SiriusXM are collaborating on a new music countdown show called YouTube 15.