YouTube is launching its own TikTok Rival, YouTube Shorts, in the United States over the next several weeks. YouTube first made the announcement last September, and it has been testing the short-form video platform in India. It has become quite popular, amassing more than 6.5 billion daily views.
September 2020 announcement
“We’re excited to announce that we are building YouTube Shorts, a new short-form video experience right on YouTube for creators and artists who want to shoot short, catchy videos using nothing but their mobile phones,” said Chris Jaffe, vice president of product management, in the September 2020 announcement.
“Over the next few days in India, we’re launching an early beta of Shorts with a handful of new creation tools to test this out. This is an early version of the product, but we're releasing it now to bring you — our global community of users, creators and artists — on our journey with us as we build and improve Shorts. We’ll continue to add more features and expand to more countries in the coming months as we learn from you and listen to your feedback. Here are more details on what to expect,” Jaffe said.
At launch, YouTube Shorts included a multi-segment camera so creators could string together multiple video clips, the option to record using music from a library of songs, speed controls for flexibility and creativity, and a timer and countdown for easy, hands-free recording.
Bells, whistles, music and more
The latest iteration being released in the United States will include more features, including the ability to add text to specific parts of the video and to sample audio from other YouTube Shorts to remix into a new creation. YouTube has plans for more creativity tools later this year.
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“In the coming months, we’ll launch the ability to use audio from videos across YouTube – which includes billions of videos worldwide – unlocking a new playground of creativity like never before. This means you can give your own creative spin on the content you love to watch on YouTube and help find it a new audience — whether it’s reacting to your favorite jokes, trying your hand at a creator’s latest recipe, or re-enacting comedic skits. Creators will be in control and will be able to opt out if they don’t want their long form video remixed,” said Todd Sherman, product lead for YouTube Shorts.
YouTube also said it is working with music partners like Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Publishing and others to offer millions of songs and music catalogs from more than 250 labels and publishers for use in YouTube Shorts.
To help users discover Shorts and to improve the viewing experience, YouTube is including a row on their homepage specifically for Shorts. Viewers can also swipe vertically to go from one video to the next, and YouTube is working on a single-tap option to watch Shorts on mobile. In addition, YouTube wants to help users find a song based on a snippet they heard in a YouTube Short.
For now, YouTube Shorts is ad-free and there are no monetization options for creators. Because YouTube Shorts is new, this business strategy makes sense. You can build it, and they will come, but they won’t pay for it right out of the gate. Eventually, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram Reels and other short-form video platforms will find a solid business model for monetizing their work which may include subscriptions. We’ll be watching and following how this platform evolves.