Alex Day, YouTube phenomenon, on building fans and making money

From The Guardian:

Last Christmas Alex Day became the first unsigned artist ever to reach number four in the Official Charts – a Guinness Book of Records entry, he says proudly. He sold 100,000 downloads in one week, and it was largely due to the fan base he had built through his YouTube channel. But it wasn’t just a promotional channel – at the time, he was also making half of his monthly income from YouTube’s ad partnership scheme.

In 2007 the company contacted him inviting him to be one of the 10-20 first partners in the UK. “It was seamless,” he explains. “Ads just started appearing on my videos. I could choose what type of ads – I could, for example, say no to ads relating to religion or gambling. Now you can also choose pre-roll ads.” (Day only allows pop-up ads, as he finds pre-rolls much too intrusive.)

In his YouTube account he can view graphs telling him how many views he’s had and from where they came. “In the last 30 days I’ve had 2.3 million views [which, according to his average earnings, would bring in $2,300] and 13,000 subscribers,” says Day, adding that he’s got 600,000 subscribers in total.

Day doesn’t gig at all. The reason, he says, is that YouTube is worldwide and if he did a gig in one city then subscribers in other cities would post comments complaining that he doesn’t play in their city. “I’d be excluding more people than I’m including.”

This is where being signed to a label would come in handy, he admits. “I don’t need an advance or money for the recording cost or money for videos – labels invest £100,000 in those, and mine cost about £200 each. But I’d sign to a label that simply provided me with tour support and marketing.”

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Guardian