YouTube recently announced the launch of new tools that will allow creators to sell their content as NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) so fans can “own” videos.
The idea isn’t new. The creators of some memorable YouTube viral videos have already sold their original videos as NFTs – including Nyan Cat (which sold for $600,000) and Charlie Bit My Finger (which sold for $761,000).
What’s new is that YouTube announced plans to integrate burgeoning NFT technology into its new creator tools.
A few weeks ago, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki suggested that the platform might jump on the NFT bandwagon.
Wojcicki said, “We’re always focused on expanding the YouTube ecosystem to help creators capitalize on emerging technologies, including things like NFTs, while continuing to strengthen and enhance the experiences creators and fans have on YouTube.”
In a post on the YouTube blog in early February, YouTube's Chief Product Officer, Neal Mohan, made it official: He wrote that YouTube’s 2022 expanded creator monetization tools would include enabling content creators to sell their videos as NFTs.
A Quick Refresher: What Are NFTs?
An NFT is a unique cryptoasset – a representation of a digital or non-digital asset – that cannot be replaced with an identical item. Each NFT can only have one owner at a time, and the ownership and transferability of NFTs are managed through blockchain-based smart contracts that can’t be replicated.
Buying an NFT gives you some usage rights and allows you to support artists you like. NFTs also work like other speculative assets – you can purchase an NFT and hope that the value will go up so you can sell it for a higher price.
But the biggest benefit to owning an NFT is bragging rights. Ownership of some YouTube creator content could be prestigious, and your purchase of a particular virtual asset will be authenticated by a digital token that lives on the blockchain.
Here’s What YouTube Has Planned
In his blog post, A Look at 2022: Community, Collaboration, and Commerce Mohan talked about Web3, a term for a new iteration of the internet based on transparency ledgers like blockchains.
“Web3 also opens up new opportunities for creators. We believe new technologies like blockchain and NFTs can allow creators to build deeper relationships with their fans. Together, they’ll be able to collaborate on new projects and make money in ways not previously possible.”
“For example, giving a verifiable way for fans to own unique videos, photos, art, and even experiences from their favorite creators could be a compelling prospect for creators and their audiences. There’s a lot to consider in making sure we approach these new technologies responsibly, but we think there’s incredible potential as well.”
With these new tools, apparently, YouTube creators will be able to sell their short-form videos as NFTs, as a new way to monetize their channels.
One thing YouTube didn’t address, however, was whether NFT ownership would conflict with current copyright law. Right now, buying an NFT establishes ownership of a digital asset and provides a public record of each transaction that involves the asset – but NFT purchases do not transfer copyright from the original owner to the buyer.
NFTs In Competing Social Media Platforms
NFTs are popping up all over the social media world. Twitter users can now use a special hexagonal profile picture feature to display an NFT image, and Meta is reportedly mulling over the idea of bringing NFTs to Facebook and Instagram.
Video innovation has always been YouTube’s specialty, so it will be interesting to see how the rollout of their new NFT creator tools affects content publishers and fans in the future.