YouTube Killed the Video Star

Being a Full-Time YouTube Star Sounds Pretty Freaking Awful

But seriously—20 videos a week?!

Olga Kay (Facebook)

Olga Kay, probably on her 17th vid of the day or something. (Facebook)

Don’t feel so down about your crappy, unfulfilling desk job, because it definitely sucks even more to be a full-time YouTube star. 

This past weekend, the New York Times profiled 31-year-old Olga Kay, a former circus performer and professional juggler who now earns a living producing videos for her five YouTube channels. Ms. Kay is part of YouTube’s “partners program,” meaning the site gives her a share of the ad revenue generated by her videos; she says she’s made between $100,000 and $130,000 in each of the past three years.

Sounds awesome, right? Like you might actually be able to afford, you know, groceries and rent? Not quite. Tbh, it sounds like going without lunch now and then might pale in comparison to Ms. Kay’s sweatshop-like regimen. 

According to the article, Ms. Kay makes 20 videos per week. 20 VIDEOS PER WEEK.  That’s like three videos a day, with the exception of a weekly day of rest where she only has to make two. Remember that time Betabeat made a video? It look us at least a day to figure out how the camera worked, and another three to figure out what to wear.

And it’s questionable whether the money Ms. Kay is making is even worth her “punishing pace,” as the Times puts it. If she makes 20 videos per week, that works out to 1,040 videos per year. And If Ms. Kay makes around $100,000 per year, then she’s making a little less than $100 per video—and then there are the production costs. As the Times notes, “To keep up with her daily channels and improve their visual quality, she has had to hire an editor, costing $500 to $700 a week when he works full time. It all adds up.”

So in order to continue mass-producing videos of acceptable quality, Ms. Kay has to spend a lot of the money those very videos earn her. That seems really annoying.

Plus, as Betabeat has noted before, when content producers’ main incentive is raking in the page views, their videos usually aren’t even that good. Like, what is this, even? And as unfulfilling as the videos are to watch, they sound equally unfulfilling to make: “It is very stressful,” Ms. Kay told the Times, “Every morning I wake up and think, ‘What can I do that’s different that will keep me relevant for another year?’” So much for artistry.

No hard feelings towards Ms. Kay and her fellow YouTube content producers. It’s impressive that people can generate ideas for dozens of videos per week, and that they can pull in a decent amount of money from videos about hiccups and weird videogames and stuff. It’s just a pretty crazy economic model.

Maybe she should get a job as like, a blogger or something.

Follow Jordyn Taylor on Twitter or via RSS. jtaylor@observer.com