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‘Gangnam Style’ Makes $8 Million On YouTube Views Alone


Psy (Photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer)

We remember when the K-Pop hit first made its way to YouTube in July. We remember when it became the most-watched video on the network in November. We remember when it hit 1 billion views in December.

Now we learn about another milestone “Gangnam Style” has reached. During Google’s fourth quarter earnings call on Tuesday, Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora revealed that “Gangnam Style” had brought in $8 million on YouTube views alone.

Google allows creators to monetize popular YouTube videos by placing advertisements before the video you want to watch. For ultra-popular videos like Gangnam Style, this practice can be lucrative: Christopher Mims of Quartz does the math and says the $8 million in earnings reported by Arora means the video is generating about $0.65 in revenue per click. For a video with 1.23 billion YouTube views and counting, that kind of cash adds up — fast.

Of course, Psy doesn’t get to keep all of the money. Half of the cash from YouTube advertising goes to YouTube itself, which means Psy likely pocketed a (relatively) piddling $4 million. Still, that’s a figure more than most YouTube sensations make. The 58-second viral “Charlie Bit My Finger” made its creators around $158,560 – enough to send Charlie to college, but not enough to make him a millionaire.

Six-figure prospects are certainly enough to tempt many a hopeful viral video creator. In 2011, Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times published a piece on how YouTube sensations could monetize their viral status. Creators, she said, aren’t limited to YouTube ads for moneymaking; Miller suggested commercial contracts, direct merchandising and TV appearances as other ways of cashing in.

Psy has certainly raked in cash from “Gangnam Style” in ways that aren’t YouTube-related. Last year, the AP estimated that the Korean pop star made $8.1 million off “Gangnam Style” off not just YouTube videos, but also a combination of iTunes downloads and TV commercials.

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