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YouTube launches paid subscription membership, merch shelves

More ways to get paid.

YouTube is introducing mechandise sales shelves below videos, as well as subscriptions, as new ways for creators to make money there. 

YouTube is giving big uploaders new ways to make money by giving them the chance to sell merchandise directly on the site and set up monthly paid membership subscriptions that unlock perks for superfans. 

It comes after more than a year of demonetization drama at YouTube. Google's massive video site, which has 1.9 billion monthly users, mostly pays back money to its creators by sharing advertising revenue with them. But after advertisers boycotted YouTube following a string of reports that ads were running next to offensive videos, YouTube tightened its policies that let uploaders make money. Disgruntled creators referred to it as "Adpocalypse."

Offering new ways to drum up revenue on YouTube could help alleviate some of that tension. 

The company is also introducing a new format to publish videos, called Premieres. It lets creators publish a functioning link with a countdown clock to the moment that their latest video goes live, and the clip's initial viewing will be synchronized for all viewers, so fans and creators can chat about it and react at the same time together. 

Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer, made the announcements Thursday at his address at VidCon, the biggest US conference for online video celebrities and their fans. 

"The number of creators earning five figures a year is up by 35 percent and the number of creators earning six figures is up by 40 percent. As in previous years, the vast majority of the revenue is coming from our advertising partners," Mohan said in a blog post after the presentation. "We'll continue investing here, but we also want to think beyond ads."

Now playing: Watch this: Google replaces YouTube Red with YouTube Premium

The new paid memberships will be available to any creator with 100,000 unpaid subscribers to their channel or more. Merch sales are available to creators with 10,000 channel subscribers or more. 

With channel memberships, viewers pay a monthly subscription fee of $4.99 for access to things like unique badges, custom emoji, members-only posts and access to other custom perks offered by creators, like exclusive live streams, extra videos or shout-outs. These tools were already available to a small group of creators, under the terminology of "sponsorships," but in the coming weeks the feature will expand much more widely. (Mohan said it may become available to channels with fewer than 100,000 subscribers in the coming months.)

YouTube joined forces with merchandising company Teespring to give creators more than 20 merchandise items to customize and sell via a shelf on their channel. 

YouTube touted one eye-popping success story from its test of merch sales: Joshua Slice turned his Lucas the Spider character into a plushie and generated more than $1 million in profit selling more than 60,000 of the stuffed arachnids in 18 days. 

So there's that. 

Premieres lets creators debut prerecorded videos as though they're live. They automatically create a public landing page with a countdown timer, and when all fans show up to watch the premiere, they can chat live with each other. Premieres are starting to roll out to creators today and will be available broadly soon. 

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