There’s money in them there YouTubes, says Forbes. The financial magazine has published its first ever list of top earners on the video platform, with the irrepressible Felix Kjellberg (better known as PewDiePie) heading the charts with pretax earnings of $12 million, according to Forbes’ calculations. Other figures on the list include comedy duo Smosh ($8.5 million), violinist Lindsey Stirling ($6 million), British video game commentator KSI ($4.5 million), and make-up expert Michelle Phan ($3 million). Forbessays that most of these individuals’ income comes from advertising such as sponsored videos and previews, although four of those on the list also have book deals, while a few even offer their own product lines.
While there is undoubtedly a lot of money to be made on YouTube if you’re personable and young (most of those on the list are under 30), Forbes’ calculations should be taken with a pinch of salt. For a start these are raw earnings, calculated before management fees and tax, and Forbes is also making some informed guesses. The magazine can’t simply look at declared earnings for these individuals, and instead reached its figures based on “data from Nielsen, IMDB, and other sources, as well as on interviews with agents, managers, lawyers, industry insiders, and the stars themselves.” This means there are bound to be some discrepancies (previous calculations of Kjellberg’s earnings, for example, have pegged the figure at $7.4 million a year). However, there’s no denying YouTubers are cashing in.