CORRECTION: Original reports from Quartz that Korean musical artist Psy had made $8 million exclusively from YouTube views of his video for the song "Gangnam Style" were incorrect, according to a notice posted at the site. An estimate cited by The New York Times puts that figure closer to $870,000, while calculations by the Associated Press put the total revenue from across all sources at roughly $8.1 million. Citations and figures have been corrected below.
During Google's fourth quarter earnings call on Tuesday, Google chief business officer Nikesh Arora revealed that "Gangnam Style" had brought in $8 million from all of its advertising channels.
Google allows creators to monetize popular YouTube videos by placing advertisements before the video you want to watch. For ultra-popular videos like Gangnam Style, this practice can be lucrative: Online video ad buying platform TubeMogul told The New York Times that it estimates Psy's cut of YouTube ad dollars to be roughly $870,000. For a video with 1.23 billion YouTube views and counting, that kind of cash adds up -- fast.
Of course, Psy doesn't get to keep all of the money. Google has not revealed how much revenue advertising on the video has generated, but if TubeMogul's estimate is correct, YouTube will have kept half of the total -- a little more than $1.7 million. Still, that's a figure more than most YouTube sensations make. The 58-second viral "Charlie Bit My Finger" made its creators around $158,560 -- enough to send Charlie to college, but not enough to make him a millionaire.
Six-figure prospects are certainly enough to tempt many a hopeful viral video creator. In 2011, Claire Cain Miller of The New York Times published a piece on how YouTube sensations could monetize their viral status. Creators, she said, aren't limited to YouTube ads for moneymaking; Miller suggested commercial contracts, direct merchandising and TV appearances as other ways of cashing in.
Psy has certainly raked in cash from "Gangnam Style" in ways that aren't YouTube-related. Last year, the AP estimated that the Korean pop star made $8.1 million off "Gangnam Style" off not just YouTube videos, but also a combination of iTunes downloads and TV commercials.
Earlier on HuffPost:
Psy is essentially a professional clown
<a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/08/28/gangnam-style-viral-popularity-in-u-s-has-koreans-puzzled-gratified/">Writing in the Wall Street Journal,</a> Jeff Yang explains that Psy is part of a corps of entertainers known in South Korea as "gwang-dae," after "a caste of performers traditionally attached to royal households" who had license to skewer those in power. The founder of a K-Pop database told Yang that today's unofficial gwang-dae -- such as Psy -- are "clown or jester-like," and that unlike mainstream K-Pop stars, they don't have to be sexy to be popular. The closest analog in America she could offer was Andy Samberg and Lonely Island, except that “In Korea, gwang-dae actually top the music charts." Ouch!
Psy grew up Gangnam style
In NY Mag, <a href="http://www.vulture.com/2012/09/psys-k-pop-crossover.html">Hua Hsu posits that</a> Psy's "satire, irony and swagger" stem from him not being from Gangnam. Au contraire! Psy is a native son of the wealthy district, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/world/asia/gangnam-style-video-gets-north-korean-propaganda-treatment.html">according to the NY Times</a>, and traveled to the US for higher education, in the way of so many privileged Gangnam tots. (South Korean students at Manhattan's Parsons School of Design are all from "<a href="http://opencitymag.com/beyond-the-horse-dance-viral-vid-gangnam-style-critiques-koreas-extreme-inequality/">the same few blocks in Gangnam</a>," according to writer Sukjong Hong.)
Psy is sort of American
Which brings us to this period. Yes, Psy learned some things during his time studying at Boston University and the nearby Berklee College of Music in the nineties, though what precisely is debatable. A BU spokesman told boston.com that Psy studied English for a semester in 1997, but "<a href="http://articles.boston.com/2012-09-18/names/33921038_1_park-jae-sang-psy-boston-ties">no one remembers him at this point</a>." Over at Berklee, he never declared a major, and took classes in voice and clarinet. The Atlantic's Max Fisher makes more of the stint than just woodwind lovin' though, suggesting that the "<a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/gangnam-style-dissected-the-subversive-message-within-south-koreas-music-video-sensation/261462/">exposure to American music's penchant for social commentary, and the time spent abroad that may have given him a new perspective on his home country, could inform [Psy's] apparently somewhat critical take on South Korean society</a>."
Crossdressing is one of Psy's "things"
Everyone got excited when <a href="http://videosift.com/video/pSYs-Dance-Performance-of-Lady-Gaga-Beyonce">a video of Psy performing Beyonce's "Single Ladies"</a> in 2011, dressed as Beyonce, was discovered. Tell us what isn't exciting about that! It turns out though, crossdressing is old hat for our modern hero. In a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/20/psy-dances-to-beyonce-single-ladies-video_n_1898462.html">wide-ranging interview on the South Korean chat show "Healing Camp</a>," Psy talks about growing out of his old schtick of dressing up as popular lady singers. Roughly translated into English: “Since being married, I don’t feel comfortable wearing those racy clothes. I kind of feel like a local clown. Do I still need to crossdress to make my fans happy?”
Psy is the next Bieber
Scooter Braun, the evil genius who manages Justin Bieber AND Carly Rae Jepsen, did the deed with Psy earlier this month. "We've come to an agreement to make some history together," <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/justin-biebers-manager-scooter-braun-367717">Braun says in a video marking the occasion of him signing Psy</a>. Psy will soon and forever after be known as the "first Korean artist to break a big record in the United States," Braun promises. No shame right now, we are excited.
Psy gets secret acupuncture while on stage
Do yourself a favor and head to that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3kPQEzXA8c">super long "Healing Camp" interview</a> we mentioned earlier. Scroll to about eight minutes and 30 seconds in and prepare to make the exact same expression the "Healing Camp" host to the left has on. Because this is the section where Psy gruesomely details his solution to the painful leg cramps that "paralyze" him on stage, according to the closed captioning. To manage, he introduced DJing segments into his concerts 2 and a half hours in, when the pain peaked. "I would be standing behind the DJ box covering my lower body, [and] while I am DJing and dancing, my physical trainers would come up behind me and start prodding my legs to dissolve the blood clots." This procedure is apparently done with 30 to 40 acupuncture needles, after which “a pool of dark red blood oozes out." And scene.