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YouTube will pay $100M to people posting to Shorts, its TikTok rival

YouTube begins its bid to compete with TikTok by paying creators. In addition to the $100 million, YouTube will test ads with Shorts in earnest soon.

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YouTube is viewed by more than 2 billion people each month.

James Martin/CNET

YouTube is creating a $100 million fund to pay people who make clips for Shorts, its take on TikTok, and it hinted it'll soon start testing ads in earnest on these short, vertical, looping clips, as the world's biggest source of online video starts figuring out how payments could make Shorts more competitive to its viral, upstart rival.  

The $100 million fund will launch in the "coming months" and be paid out over the course of this year and next, YouTube said in a blog post Tuesday. 

YouTube also said Shorts are becoming more widely available across its service, with, for example, the video site including Shorts in the feed of content from channels you subscribe to and adding a Shorts tab in the bottom row of the mobile app. Finally, it noted some updates to Shorts as a product: the ability to remix audio from videos across YouTube is rolling out to everyone soon, as well as the ability to automatically add captions, record up to 60 seconds with the Shorts camera, add clips from your phone's gallery to your recordings, and add basic color-correction filters. 

Google's massive video site is the latest tech giant trying to tap into the sensation around TikTok, the social video app owned by Chinese company Bytedance. Facebook's Instagram launched its own TikTok copycat, Reels, in August, after Facebook shut down another wannabe, Lasso, last year.

With YouTube's Shorts fund, the Google video giant is taking another page out of TikTok's playbook. TikTok launched a creators fund last year, set to pay out more than $1 billion to people posting on TikTok in the US and more than double that to TikTok users globally over three years. 

To put YouTube's $100 million fund for Shorts creators in context, YouTube ads generated approximately $100 million in revenue in about a day and a half, on average, during Google's last quarter. In the year-and-a-half timeframe in which YouTube will pay out $100 million from this Shorts fund, the site will pay roughly $15 billion to everyone else who qualifies to make money on YouTube. 

But those billions of dollars paid to YouTube uploaders are a track record of YouTube directly paying its creators, something TikTok has only flirted with so far. The TikTok stars making the most money do so through sponsorships and brand deals, not from TikTok itself. 

Both YouTube and TikTok are vague about who gets paid and how much. 

YouTube said it'll reward "thousands of creators whose Shorts received the most engagement and views" each month out of the fund. The company said it'll have more details around payment distribution as it gets closer to launching the fund. 

TikTok has said its creator fund payments are calculated by weighing factors like number of views, video engagement, location of views and the total number of participants in the program, among other things.

YouTube said anyone who posts Shorts is eligible to earn money from the new fund, so long as YouTube's community guidelines are followed. For its part, TikTok's creator fund has requirements such as being at least 18 years old and having 100,000 followers and 100,000 video views in the last 30 days. 

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