South Korean viral video sensation Psy has taken the world by storm with his addictively fun and surreal music video for the single “Gangnam Style,” which has surpassed Justin Bieber’s “Baby” as the most watched video on Youtube, recently becoming the first Youtube video ever to get a BILLION views! Yes, that’s right, I said a BILLION!
So what does being an overnight viral video sensation with the most watched music video in the history of mankind equate to in dollars? I’ve tracked down two different accounts of the estimated revenue. The first is from Nate Hopper of New York magazine, who compiled some interesting numbers a little while back that I’m going to pro-rate a bit to account for the amount of views since the time of his story.
At the time of this post, “Gangnam Style” has 1,031,548,977 views. According to the article, Youtube pays an average of right around $2 per one thousand page views. That would equate to $2,063,097.95 — That’s over two million dollars just from Youtube revenue! On an interesting side note, according to Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis, Youtube earns about $1.60 per one thousand page views, which means Youtube has pocketed a cool $1,650,478.36! (Or thereabouts)
At the time of the magazine article Psy had sold 2.7 million downloads of “Gangnam Style, ” which equated to just under a quarter of a million dollars. That means he was getting right around 9 cents per download? That sounds low, but the magazine says that number is based on “standard American royalties,” so let’s roll with it.
If we do a little prorating based on an increased sales number relatively proportional to the increase in video views, that would mean Psy has taken in almost exactly $300,000 from downloads to date. That means his total from downloads and Youtube views would be approximately $2,363,097.95. (My how the music industry has changed! Actually selling music isn’t nearly as profitable as having people watch it on Youtube for “free!” Or is it? More on that in a minute.)
The article didn’t address the amount of revenue Psy will be seeing from commercials and endorsement deals, but an AP article written by Youkyung Lee does. Lee’s numbers are quite a bit different than those compiled by Hopper in New York magazine, so we’ll need to start over from scratch.
According to TubeMogul, a video ad buying platform, “Gangnam Style” earns an average of right around 67 cents per one thousand page views, which would equate to a total of $690,344.32 for the amount of views it has right now. Though I’m not certain what the reason for the drastic difference in revenue estimates are from the previous source, Lee does point out that ad revenue from page views in other countries is dramatically reduced, including the countries that have the second and third most viewers of “Gangnam Style:” Thailand and South Korea.
Lee also points out that Google/Youtube can detect when other videos use Gangnam style and the copyright owner (Psy) can opt to either have the content removed to share in the ad revenue. “In the last week of September when ‘Gangnam Style’ had around 300 million views,” Lee writes, “more than 33,000 videos were identified by the content identification system as using ‘Gangnam Style.’” Since the data is so vague, we’ll just have to chalk this revenue stream up as an X factor and leave it unaccounted for.
Though the AP article downgrades revenue estimates from Youtube views, it more than compensates by increasing the amount Psy is estimated to be making from downloads. The song downloads on iTunes for $1.29 (99 cents on amazon), and artists apparently receive 70% of that. South Korean industry insiders estimate Psy’s label YG Entertainment receives 30% of that, leaving Psy at right around 63 cents per download. Given the prorated estimates on sales above, that would equate to $2,061,631.28.
Lee adds that in Psy’s home country of South Korea “Gangnam Style” had been downloaded “3.6 million times and streamed around 40 million times as of November.” But don’t get too excited for him because that equates to right around $61,000 for the singer. (Oof!) That would bring his download total up to $2,122,631.28.
That puts the grand total revenue for Psy from “Gangnam Style” Youtube views and downloads at $2,812,975.60. That number isn’t that far off from the New York magazine number above, with a difference of right around half a million bucks. Of course there are a lot of things not accounted for here, such as countries other than South Korea and the United States as well as views and downloads of Psy’s other videos and singles because of the success of “Gangnam Style.”
Ah, and what about the endorsements and commercials? That’s got to be where the real money’s at, right? Apparently so.
Though he didn’t make much more than travel expenses for appearances on shows like the Today Show, Ellen, and Good Morning America, Psy is making bank on commercial deals in South Korea for companies such as Samsung Electronics and mobile carrier LG Uplus. “Chung Yu-seok, an analyst at Kyobo Securities, estimates PSY’s commercial deals would amount to 5 billion won ($4.6 million) this year,” the AP article states. And I’m guessing that doesn’t include Psy’s commercial deals in the US, which include at least Dancing With the Stars I know!
There are some other factors too, including the skyrocketing stock value of DI Corporation, which builds equipment used to make microchips and is 30% owned by Psy’s father, uncle and grandmother. Actually, Psy’s grandmother reportedly cashed in on her stocks! (The company’s stock increased in value 800% by July and has since gone back down to just about double what it was valued at prior to “Gangnam Style” being released. Well played grandma!)
But with just the downloads, youtube views, and commercial deal estimates above, that brings the estimated total for how much money Psy has made off “Gangnam Style” up to $7,412,975.60!
The real value of “Gangnam Style” may yet to materialize, though. Psy is hoping he will be able to prolong his success and be something much more than a one-hit wonder here in the United States when his new album is released in March, 2013.
* On a side note, I want to give myself a little pat on the back because I saw the “Gangnam Style” music video relatively early on (back when it had a meager 10 million views) and I did a post declaring, “In case you were wondering what the next huge Youtube viral sensation is going to be, here is your answer.” When I shared it on Facebook I told our readers they might as well give in and watch it now because the video (and the song) would be everywhere soon. Little did I realize just how huge the video would become or just how everywhere the song would be!