Both private individuals[246] and large production companies[247] have used YouTube to grow audiences. Independent content creators have built grassroots followings numbering in the thousands at very little cost or effort, while mass retail and radio promotion proved problematic.[246] Concurrently, old media celebrities moved into the website at the invitation of a YouTube management that witnessed early content creators accruing substantial followings, and perceived audience sizes potentially larger than that attainable by television.[247] While YouTube's revenue-sharing "Partner Program" made it possible to earn a substantial living as a video producer—its top five hundred partners each earning more than $100,000 annually[248] and its ten highest-earning channels grossing from $2.5 million to $12 million[249]—in 2012 CMU business editor characterized YouTube as "a free-to-use ... promotional platform for the music labels".[250] In 2013 Forbes' Katheryn Thayer asserted that digital-era artists' work must not only be of high quality, but must elicit reactions on the YouTube platform and social media.[251] Videos of the 2.5% of artists categorized as "mega", "mainstream" and "mid-sized" received 90.3% of the relevant views on YouTube and Vevo in that year.[252] By early 2013 Billboard had announced that it was factoring YouTube streaming data into calculation of the Billboard Hot 100 and related genre charts.[253]
In May 2013, creation of live streams was opened to verified users with at least 1,000 subscribers; in August of that year the number was reduced to 100 subscribers,[106] and in December the limit was removed.[107] In February 2017, live streaming was introduced to the official YouTube mobile app. Live streaming via mobile was initially restricted to users with at least 10,000 subscribers,[108] but as of mid-2017 it has been reduced to 100 subscribers.[109] Live streams can be up to 4K resolution at 60 fps, and also support 360° video.[110] In February 2017, a live streaming feature called Super Chat was introduced, which allows viewers to donate between $1 and $500 to have their comment highlighted.[111]
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