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YouTube Shorts Is Taking on TikTok and Minting a New Constellation of Concise Video Stars

The online video king has set aside $100 million to pay short-form creators.

In this photo illustration a YouTube Shorts logo is seen

Photographer:  Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As a kid in Manchester, England, Dan Rhodes taught himself magic by watching tutorials on YouTube. But when it came time to post card tricks of his own, Rhodes largely bypassed the video-sharing giant and instead took to Instagram and TikTok — apps, he believed, that would more quickly get him the notoriety and audience he desired. 

For years, the British teen continued to post only sparingly on YouTube. Then in early 2021, the service introduced YouTube Shorts, a new feature showcasing videos that are less than a minute long. Rhodes embraced it, and within two weeks his YouTube subscribers jumped from 17,000 to over a million. The 17-year-old magician now has 3.8 million subscribers, and his videos have been viewed 3.2 billion times.