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Inside YouTube

YouTube’s creative economy– small businesses, big impact

  • By Robert Kyncl
  • Chief Business Officer
  • Oct.06.2021
YouTube’s creative economy– small businesses, big impact
New data from Oxford Economics highlights the continued growth of YouTube's creator ecosystem.

YouTube’s open platform was the birthplace of the creator economy. Back in 2007, when we created the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and began sharing revenue directly with creators, an entire industry was born. Today, there are more than 2 million creators around the world in YPP, building thriving businesses from their passions. We’re continuing to invest in new tools to help creators build stronger businesses – we now provide ten different ways to make money on YouTube. Over the last three years, we’ve paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media companies.

To get a deeper sense of how our creative ecosystem connects to communities across the country, we once again asked the experts at Oxford Economics to look at YouTube’s economic, societal, and cultural impact in the United States. The resulting report, called The State of the Creator Economy, was set against the backdrop of the pandemic and examined everything from the resilience of the creator economy in the face of COVID-19, to the value YouTube provides to American users and businesses as a resource for learning, entertainment, and information.

Oxford Economics’ research found that YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported 394,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the US, an increase of 14 percent over 2019. In fact, the total contribution of YouTube’s creative ecosystem to the US GDP was $20.5 billion in 2020, a 23 percent increase over 2019.

In particular, the report found that the continued growth of the creator economy in the midst of the pandemic is a demonstration of the flexibility, creativity, and resourcefulness of creators. Despite lockdowns that interrupted so many parts of the creative industries throughout 2020, Oxford Economics’ research found that YouTube’s creative ecosystem supported 394,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the US, an increase of 14 percent over 2019. In fact, the total contribution of YouTube’s creative ecosystem to the US GDP was $20.5 billion in 2020, a 23 percent increase over 2019.

The Home of Creative Entrepreneurs

Those are big numbers. But behind them are the stories of individual Americans paying their mortgages and supporting their families through this new economy. People like April Wilkerson, a self-taught woodworker from Texas who turned her DIY furniture tutorials into a thriving business with nine employees that attributes nearly 80 percent of its revenue to YouTube. April also managed to build her reputation in the woodworking industry in a matter of years through YouTube, something that can take decades using more traditional approaches. Or Chris Bossio, a barber from Florida who used YouTube first as a learning tool when he was starting his career, and then used it to teach others his own techniques, to recruit barbers, and to boost his customer base. Today Chris runs a chain of barber shops and a successful hair care line. He employs over 100 people and notes that YouTube took him from a local barber to a global brand in just five years.

There are thousands of successful creative entrepreneurs who are having a direct impact on their local communities in every state across the country. You can meet creators from your own state by checking out The United States of YouTube, our guide to some of the most dynamic and exciting small businesses on our platform.

Illinois on YouTube

The scale of this impact is particularly incredible when you think that we have only been in the world of professional online creators for about a decade. And during that time, YouTube has continually shared revenue directly with creators. If all platforms shared revenue with creators the way that YouTube does, there’s tremendous potential for the creator economy to rival Hollywood in terms of economic impact and job creation, just as it does in terms of cultural influence.

The findings of this research underscore what has set YouTube at the heart of the creator economy – a financially sustainable ecosystem built on diverse talent and passion that allows Americans to start new businesses, learn new skills, and enrich their lives.

Visit yt.be/impact to learn more and meet the people behind the numbers.