Avril Lavigne, “Girlfriend”
If anyone still had doubts about the power of YouTube, they were put to rest with the news that the video-sharing site now processes more search requests than Yahoo, the world’s second-biggest search outfit. On most days the site serves up more than one billion videos, making it one of the most popular destinations on the web. But figuring just out how to monetize that popularity has been a particular bugaboo for Google, which bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.7 billion. One bright spot: music videos. Abandoned years ago by MTV, the promotional programming shorts are among the most sought-after clips on YouTube, which is why artists of all varieties are having better luck squeezing revenue out of YouTube than YouTube itself is. And none more so than Avril Lavigne.
The knee-socked songstress’s video “Girlfriend” has generated more than 113 million views, making it the most-watched clip on YouTube. Though the total number of views was rigged by Lavigne’s rabid fan base, the achievement could earn the pop starlet as much as $2 million-the biggest windfall ever paid out to a YouTube star. Lavigne can thank her management company, Nettwork Management, for cutting such a lucrative licensing deal. Nettwork’s CEO, Terry McBride, expects to reap similar rewards in Asia, where Lavigne’s pubescent schoolgirl outfits play especially well. Rhianna and Alicia Keys are also among the list of artists that have reaped sizeable checks from YouTube.
Alas, other stars may not be so lucky, especially Warner Music acts. YouTube removed all of the videos by Warner artists late last year after the two companies couldn’t come to terms on a licensing agreement (though a quick search on Google will steer you to other sites that are hosting them). Given YouTube’s explosive growth in popularity-it is now the world’s third-most visited website-look for other video-sharing sites, such as Hulu and Tv.com, to try and grab a piece of YouTube’s music-video business.