With Corona Virus restrictions firmly in place, music shows and other types of entertainment gigs are off and there is no clear sight yet of when they will be allowed to happen again. Many artistes and comedians have as a result lost financial weight, or so they say. Those who popped champagne bottles, drove luxurious rides and posed with cash on Instagram are now the beggars of today, seeking bailouts from the government.
The Uganda Musicians Association(UMA) recently sourced posho and beans for its members after a big number cried out that they couldn’t sustain themselves and their families.
A group of comedians also asked government to extend aid to them.
The cries for help by musicians and comedians have, however, been treated with unkindness. No one is ready to believe that musicians and comedians are broke when they have online music channels such as YouTube where they are said to be earning big bucks. People might be locked in their homes, but they have not stopped consuming music. With channels like YouTube, iTunes, Spotify and others, the party surely can’t be stopped. And that means the money can’t stop going to the accounts of entertainers.
The constant yells of “subscribe to my channel” are never for nothing. Responding to that plea is to improve the chances of a YouTube owner to make money off the channel.
YouTube more than any other music streaming channel has, without a doubt, exploded in Uganda more than any other.
So, are musicians and comedians lying about their brokenness yet they are quietly earning millions of money?
We talked to musicians, comedians and other industry players to understand how it works. Read on;
He has the biggest YouTube channel and the lead content creator among the artistes in Uganda. His channel recently hit 1million subscribers. With that number, it also means he must be making more money online compared to anyone else. He was once quoted saying that he could sustain himself for 10 years without going on stage, thanks to income raining from YouTube.
Kenzo says: “YouTube is a full time job. Anyone can make money. Not just the artistes. Whoever creates content and uploads online stands a chance. YouTube pays monthly. It can sustain someone for a very long time.”
He, however, explains that earning money from a channel doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.
“One has to build a following first. And also upload a lot of content. The owner has to work hard in order to make money,” he advises.
“It is also important for musicians to copyright their companies like tune-core. This improves the chances to make more money,” he adds.
He encourages every artiste to open up a YouTube channel. “People can read about how money is generated on google or they can contact me. I am ready to help,” the singer says.
Bebe Cool acknowledges that he makes money on YouTube, however, he says the money paid is not enough to sustain an artiste’s lifestyle.
“I earn between 5M-10M every month. That's very little money for an artiste of my stature,”Bebe says.
He has over 2.28k subscribers on his channel. Off YouTube, Bebe Cool is ranked among the top three singers in Uganda.
“If I am making only that amount of money aforementioned. You can imagine what a smaller artiste makes," he says.
Bebe Cool says he invests a lot in his music and that he cannot rely on YouTube to get return on his investment. He recently said in an interview that he could have made over 50M from his gigs during the Easter holiday but that didn’t happen due to lockdown.
Bebe Cool suggests that musicians earn more from shows than on YouTube.
The B2C boys have over 5k subscribers on their channel. Their song Gutujja garnered over 4million views. According to Enock Kateete, the B2C manager, Gutujja is one of the most watched songs in Uganda by a local artiste.
With the exciting numbers and views, Enock, says the group doesn’t make any reasonable money from their channel.
“I don’t think a channel can sustain an artiste. YouTube pays peanuts. Maybe musicians abroad earn from it. But in Uganda, it’s not working,” he explains.
“Few songs get 1M views on YouTube. Most songs here take about two months to get 1M views, which means few artistes are really getting big bucks from the channel. Kenzo could be among but most of us, the money is not yet there, ” he adds.
The B2C manager also shares the view that artistes have one way to earn money in Uganda. And that is through music shows.
He mentions other avenues such as iTunes but says they have not yet picked up.
“Kenzo might be earning from YouTube but I doubt whether he can say he can depends on just his channel. I think his money is generated from other music streaming channels as well,” Enock adds.
Enock says money paid by YouTube also varies depending on the region one is operating from.
“What Americans are paid is not what Ugandan are getting. Here it is little pocket change,” he concludes.
There is a big perception that A Pass earns a larger percentage of his money from YouTube.
A Pass has 36.7k followers.
He says artistes can earn from various platforms, not just YouTube.
“I don’t think YouTube can entirely sustain an artiste. Unless you are Beyoncé,” says A Pass.
“YouTube is just one avenue to make money, but one should be able to make money through other ways to stay afloat,” he adds.
With 12k subscribers, Bruno K says he makes decent money from YouTube.
“Money from YouTube is free. The more the number of followers, the more money you make," he brags.
Bruno K says one can make about Ugx 3M in one month. Asked whether it’s enough to sustain an artiste, he says: “3M can help an artiste record a music video or record an audio.”
He is one of the well-to-do comedians in Uganda. He is a director in Fun Factory. The Fun Factory channel has over 46k subscribers. It is one of the biggest comedy channels in Uganda.
Bugingo, who is also the President of The Uganda Comedians Associations (TUCA) says YouTube can be a good source of income for any comedian.
He encourages comedians to record skits or creative videos on YouTube so that they are able to earn.
“Cost per impression" is the metric YouTube uses to gauge how much to pay you, also known as CPI. Every time someone sees an ad on your videos, it counts toward your account. At 10,000 views, the potential to get paid truly begins. With every 10,000 clicks, your number goes up.
At the time of publication, your channel needs a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of viewing time in the past year before the money starts flowing in.
A channel can’t be considered a contender for payment until it hits 10,000 views (and more!).
Once you have an audience, you should monetize your channel to be able to make money.