Auto-Tune that

"Auto-Tune that" Continued...

Issue: "Focus on Mitt Romney," July 16, 2011

Dodson told me in a telephone interview that the royalties brought in enough money to move his family out of the projects. He's now opened his own YouTube channel and is working with the Gregory Brothers on other videos. "That's what I want to be around-positive people," he said. He said he believes in a higher power but his family "doesn't go to church. We bring church to us. Where two or three are gathered."

When asked if he sees the group's work as "redemptive," Evan said he thinks the interpretation of Dodson's lyrics helped refine the interest in Dodson's rant from being just a humorous video into something more meaningful. "The song played up the other aspects of Antoine-his courage, his wit, his righteous indignation," Evan said. "It changed the whole way culture viewed" the news story-which is the point of Auto-Tuning the news, anyway.

Internet gold

YouTube is turning a lot of hobbyists into rich producers

How big is the burgeoning YouTube economy?

"We have hundreds of partners who make six figures from it," said Annie Baxter, a spokeswoman for YouTube. "Thousands more make more than $1,000 a month."

Now owned by Google Inc., YouTube has a program to partner with talented video producers, most of them youngsters. "We want to take more people from the hobby, dabbling space into doing this as a career," said Baxter. Google splits revenues and increasingly is helping to fund and support new talent, teaching video hobbyists how to develop an audience and produce better content.

It also has algorithms that can predict when a video on YouTube is going viral (around 20,000 views in a short period of time is a good indicator). When videos are on that trajectory, YouTube contacts the video producer to sign for a partnership, where producers can make money by selling ads on their video. So even the "Charlie Bit Me" video can earn revenue. "Kids do something cute and get a few million views and are able to get thousands of dollars from that," Baxter said.

Ben Relles, who in 2007 founded the Barely Political channel (producer of the raunchy Obama Girl videos), sold his company to Next Lab in 2007, which was sold to YouTube earlier this year. He now runs channels and consults other YouTube channels on success. "Who knew Auto-Tuning CSPAN clips would appeal to millions of people?" he said. While most popular feeds are music-related videos involving hot topics and innuendo, they aren't the only thing that sells: Other popular channels feature how-to programs on cooking with bacon, crocheting, and putting on make-up.


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