YouTube will share ad revenue with 20-year-old Brandon Fletcher. Thus the stage is set for a flood of copycat bum-rushers who will no doubt lay siege to the YouTube/Googleplex armed with nothing but their media and their Gen-Y audacity.
It's just 46 days after Brandon's YouTube show launched, and he sent me an email this morning. It had a link to the breaking story, and a single emoticon.
"The deal is basically sharing ad money," Brandon tells me. "They place banners on my video pages and we split the revenue." (Though he adds that he "can't give specifics on the splits.")
"YouTube is going to place ads on the video pages of everyone in the program," he adds. "I didn't even ask about joining, they offered it to me!"
I feel like a chump now. Nine weeks ago I'd been skeptical when Brandon flew from New York City to Silicon Valley just to pitch YouTube his video show. He'd vowed he'd stay in YouTube's lobby until they agreed to put his video on their front page. "How did it go?" I'd asked cynically in April.
"Went really well," he wrote back cheerily, saying that an employee "took me out to eat, gave me some YouTube shirts and told me to come back!" But when he went back to camp in YouTube's lobby, a security guard stopped him at the elevator. Eventually, Brandon flew back to New York City. But he'd made some crucial contacts...
So what was his big idea? I did some sleuthing, and discovered it would be a web reality show. (Couples who met online would have their first real-life date -- and Brandon would film it.) But a few weeks later, my skepticism started to melt, and I fired off an email to our editor.
So that guy who didn't get past YouTube's security released his online dating show anyways. And I have to say -- I think it's really good.
They're both from MySpace -- nice twist! -- and there's genuine, real-life odd moments. (When the guy suggests that when they play pool, it should be "strip pool," his date thinks for a second. Then says, "I'm glad I wore a lot of layers... I think YOU should just strip.")
He just now sent out the press release...
And it was a good press release. "Behind the production, a story of determination and perseverance," announced one section's title. It said Brandon "funded the project on his own, and then filmed, edited, and scored and produced music for every episode..." It even referenced his "gutsy mission" to get YouTube to feature it.
But he hadn't achieved any results yet. The only happy ending I'd found was that Brandon hadn't given up. On his blog he'd written "I will not stop trying until I reach my goal."After the May launch of his secret video project, Brandon had seemed excited. "I feel great right now!" he told me. "I'm just going to keep on working hard, and trying to spread the word about this site as much as I can."
But he added: "I feel like I've created something great here, though."
He told me he hoped a TV network might show interest in the show, "but for now, as long as I'm enjoying this -- I will continue to handle it on my own." And the show continued -- mostly fueled by his raw enthusiasm.
Brandon planned to release a new episode every Monday, with extra videos throughout the week showing outtakes or on-the-street interviews about online dating. But within a week there was good news. "[S]omeone from YouTube placed the first episode on the 'Featured Directors' column, which appears on the right side of the website when you browse videos. It gets around 1 million impressions per day, so we're at about 10,000 views for episode one in less than a week!"
And I had to admit it was entertaining.
"Does it take you a lot to get wasted?" asks the guy in the red t-shirt that says "IDIOT!"
"No," his date answers. "I'm a light weight...."
That first episode was eventually viewed over 20,000 times. The YouTube channel seemed erratic -- episode 2 drew just 6,741 views, and episode 3 just 3,885. But Brandon told me there were more views on the web site, and "a few investors have been contacting me about the project." Three weeks ago he sent me an update -- that he was "Working on a sponsorship / cross-promotion." Eight days ago he told me that the last episode jumped to 25,000 views in one week. Maybe that was because its title was "Pee on me," I thought -- since the next episode racked up only 1,053 views in its first three days on YouTube.
But then today, the big news came.
YouTube had heard him, and YouTube had signed him.
And Brandon's email was both the last word, and maybe also a call to his peers...
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