For anyone falling under the ‘content creator’ umbrella at YouTube, the sole path to making money has been to allow ads on your channel and hope for a massive viewership. That could change with a new feature that allows channels to operate a digital tip jar. The new crowd funding feature has reportedly rolled out in a handful of markets — Australia, Japan, Mexico, and the U.S., according to Android Police. Complete Music Update reported that these tip jars can be as subtle as an icon in the corner of your videos or as un-subtle as a pop-up covering the whole video. The transactions are conducted via Google Wallet and YouTube takes a small cut of the donation (a little more than 5 percent).
YouTube is a wildly popular platform for musicians and this feature seems like a very musician-friendly addition. In fact, it’s a similar approach to the tip jars they likely use when playing live shows. Artists who want to avoid the usual ad-based channel can use this tool instead, or they can combine the two for full monetization.
In order for this tip jar to take off, listeners will need extra incentive to donate for the music they have been enjoying free of charge. As such, this new fan-funding option will probably be most successful for the YouTubers who are skilled at community-building. Recent data about the network show that the top channels have seen giant leaps in views over the past year. Research from Tubefilter and OpenSlate revealed that the top 100 channels posted a increase from 5.24 billion views in July 2013 to 9.46 billion views in July 2014. This new monetization option could help give a leg up to the YouTubers who are reaching a much smaller percentage of those eyes and ears.