Well more like 20-million-hit-wonders.
On Sunday NPR reported that popular video-sharing site YouTube has begun paying those with hit videos, even if they only have one:
The online video Web site recently announced that users who create just one viral video are eligible for advertising partnerships with the company. Now, those behind the videos that become the next big thing on YouTube can cash in on their 15 minutes of fame.
This is news because while the YouTube Partners program has existed for a while, it was previously mainly for people with lots of high-quality videos -- filmmakers, comedians, how-to gurus -- people who were regularly producing entertaining content that drove traffic and therefore advertising dollars to YouTube. Early stars and YouTube royalty like Lisa Donovan (Lisa Nova) and Michael Buckley have been members since early on, receiving shared revenue from the ads on their videos. According to an article that appeared in the New York Times last December the top YouTube Partners do quite well, making comfortable six figure incomes by regularly producing videos for the site.
Yet the fact remains that fame in the Internet age is usually accidental. It's impossible to predict what sort of video will strike a chord and be the next to sweep the world. Therefore, some of the biggest hits on YouTube are, and will continue to be, accidental one-hit wonders.
For the above piece NPR interviewed David Devore, whose simple home video of his son, befuddled after a dentist's appointment, has garnered about 28 million views. (WATCH: "David After Dentist")
In the interview Davore states that his family has made about $25,000 dollars from the 2- minute video so far. At 28 million views currently, that's about 900 bucks for every million views. Since now a single video that goes viral can make a person eligible for the Partners program, essentially YouTube has just made it easier to randomly strike internet gold.
In the future that video of a kid's wacky 5th birthday may help pay for his college tuition.
Or his dental work.
Follow Stefan Sirucek on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sirstefan