From left to right: Michael Greenfield, Peter Hollens and Jade Sherman. Art by Mike Sullivan
Google Entertainment COVID-19

How YouTube Stars Are Getting Paid During the Pandemic

Photo: From left to right: Michael Greenfield, Peter Hollens and Jade Sherman. Art by Mike Sullivan

Patrick Lacey, a YouTube creator who runs the 2 million subscriber TierZoo channel, was pulling in nearly $11,000 a month from ads on videos that rated wild animals as if they were players in a video game. Then came the coronavirus shutdowns and a dive in spending from advertisers. His paycheck from YouTube ads in April plunged to around $4,800.

Still, the former food scientist is sticking by his decision to become a full-time YouTuber. He makes most of his income, about two-thirds, from sponsorship deals inked separately with advertisers. These longer-running agreements to talk about a company’s product have proven more resilient than spending on YouTube commercials and banner ads, according to interviews with a dozen creators and agents. In Lacey’s case, his sponsored deals, which he does not share with YouTube, more than made up for the drop in ad income last month. 

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