Two music videos — Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” and Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” — have recently passed the 3-billion-view threshold on YouTube, becoming the only uploads in history to do so. It’s only a matter of time before a handful of other incredibly popular tunes join that club. But what is that accomplishment actually worth to the artists behind those smash hits?
Owning the top slot on the world’s most popular video hosting site and bringing in millions of clicks per day is certainly a feat worthy of celebrating even if it didn’t earn anybody a dime, but these artists are making some serious cash thanks to their incredible viewing numbers on the platform.
Nailing down exactly how much a video has made is nearly impossible as it varies from clip to clip, depending on a number of factors such as what kind of ads are connected to the upload, how many people clicked through to other pages, where those viewers are based, what time of year they watch and so on. So the best that can be done is to look at some up-to-date averages. According to a representative for SocialBlade, a company that tracks popular YouTube channels in order to provide data to interested parties, 1,000 views on the video site will earn a creator somewhere between 25 cents and $4, with the actual amount brought in not clear until the payment has actually been disbursed.
Using that average, it’s possible that the videos connected to songs like “Despacito,” “See You Again” and “Gangnam Style” have already resulted in payments somewhere between $750,000 and $12 million. That is an incredible range, but it’s not likely that the most popular videos to ever be uploaded to YouTube have collected less than $1 million in revenue. In fact, the full sum is hopefully somewhere closer to the middle, though it may actually be on the lower end.
According to an average estimated and published recently by Information Is Beautiful, YouTube may pay as little as $0.0006 for every view, which adds up to only $1.8 million for 3 billion plays. A previous estimate suggested that just after he had reached 2 billion streams, Psy had made about $2 million on YouTube, though since then, ad rates have dipped, so it is possible that Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee have earned less money for 3 billion views than Psy did for his two.
It’s also important to remember that the $1.8 million figure quoted just above is from YouTube only. These songs all sold millions of copies, they have been streamed hundreds of millions of times on a number of platforms, they were played non-stop on radio, and they have been monetized dozens of other ways, so it’s entirely possible that these songs have now all brought in well over double what YouTube has paid. These are incredibly valuable pieces of music, and they’re all still relatively new, so don’t expect them to disappear anytime soon.