So, YouTube’s going to start sharing the wealth, eh? I guess it’s easy to feel generous after you’ve pocked $1.65-billion from Google, and never have to work again. There’s lot of chatter about why YouTube is doing it (check out Scott Karp and Nick Carr for a small taste) but the bigger and far more interesting development is how the user-generated content industry is starting to become a business as opposed to a hobby/brand building/ranting/ego massaging exercise.
As Scott Karp makes clear, more people want to get paid for the content they produce (and we’re not talking about link love, trackbacks, RSS subscriptions and traffic). We’re talking dollars and cents (but mostly dollars given people are tired of getting cents from AdSense). Does this mark the beginning of the end of the user-generated content revolution that has seen millions of people offer their insight, knowledge and skills for free or next to nothing. Probably not but it does indicate the USG market is already starting to evolve as content producers are saying “show me the money”, while distributors (YouTube, Revver, etc.) look to embrace different ways to monetize their traffic to turn a cool, popular service into a business.
In theory, the concept of getting paid could be a could thing for USG because it could encourage people to create better content - if you believe in the concept this work will be more popular and, as a result, more lucrative. It’s content capitalism at work. Perhaps an ancillary benefit will be a consolidation of the USG industry as people who want to be paid but get nothing or little for their efforts decide to move on to other things.
Update: As much as money is coming into the user-generated content world, ego still plays a huge role in why people blog. Exhibit one is Robert Scoble, who detonated a flurry of discussion within the blogosphere after having a digital temper tantrum because after Engadget declined to link to a video story he did on new technology from Intel. Scoble’s not into blogging to make money (although it has jump-started his career in a major way) but his disappointment over the lack of links shows he’s got a healthy ego and his blog is part of that equation.