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Forbes listed the world’s top-earning “YouTube Stars 2015”

OHMYGOSSIP — Forbes publishes the earnings of top online stars who have become multi-millionaires on a par with Hollywood’s finest… but do you recognize them?

After ten years of YouTube, the video sharing site has generated billions of views and dollars for the company as workers lose hours and hours of productivity.

While the site still plays host to amateurs looking to share grainy quality clips, some have turned their polished videos into an enterprise and become millionaires in the process.

A ranking by Forbes lists the site’s top stars by pre-tax earnings, with Swedish video game vlogger Felix Kjellberg, or Pew Die Pie, taking the top spot with $12million in the year ending June 1.

PewDiePie: $12 million
Smosh: $8.5 million
Fine Brothers: $8.5 million
Lindsey Stirling: $6 million
Rhett & Link: $4.5 million
KSI: $4.5 million
Michelle Phan: $3 million
Lilly Singh: $2.5 million
Roman Atwood: $2.5 million
Rosanna Pansino: $2.5 million

“I thought, if [YouTube] is going to be the global television of the future, I need to build my brand here,” said Michelle Phan, who uploaded her first video, a natural makeup tutorial, from a grainy webcam in 2007. “Within the first week, 40,000 people watched it and hundreds of comments came in and that’s when I realized I’d found my calling.”

Most of their earnings comes from advertisements — both sponsored, integrated content and the pesky, inescapable previews—but some of these stars are diversifying into the television, movie and music industries. The publishing industry has been especially welcoming to these stars: Four have books out or in the pipeline. A few have their own product lines, selling everything from beanies and underwear to eyeliner and lip-gloss.

Videogames seems to be one path to making it big on YouTube. Kjellberg is joined on the list by KSI, or Olajide Olatunji, a fellow gamer who made $4.5 million in the past year. The British commentator has become a sensation across the pond and has used his following to break into the music world, with his rap single “Lamborghini” debuting on the UK Top 40 charts.

Comedians have also found a way to make YouTube their own: Half of our top-earning channels primarily feature sketch comedy, stand-up routines or pranks. Their antics have earned both Smosh—made up of childhood best friends Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla—and the Fine Brothers—Benny and Rafi Fine—$8.5 million, in addition to a movie deal for Smosh and a Nickelodeon show and Daytime Emmy for the Fines.

Rhett & Link, aka Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln Neal III, have also turned laughs into serious bucks. The duo made $4.5 million through various sponsored content deals, including with Gillette , Wendy’s and Toyota. Lilly Singh, known to her fans as Superwoman, earned $2.5 million over the past year with her jokes, and amassed a global audience: Her recent tour, A Trip to Unicorn Island, hit over 25 cities worldwide. Roman Atwood, a prankster and internet age version of Punk’d’s Ashton Kutcher, has made the same amount through his jokes and has partnerships with the likes of Nissan to thank for his millions.

Coming in fourth is Lindsey Stirling, the dancing violinist—it is more mesmerizing than it sounds—who’s used YouTube to propel her to fame and $6 million in earnings over the 12 months to June. She has put out two albums, Shatter Me and Lindsey Stirling, scored a book deal and developed a lucrative touring career.

“It’s a very loyal fan base (that) wants you to succeed because they found you,” Stirling recently said of the benefits of a YouTube career at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit. “It wasn’t some big radio station or record label that shoved art down someone’s throat and said this is what’s cool.”

Michelle Phan may be one of the more well-known names on the list, but this beauty entrepreneur lands close to the bottom with $3 million. She is playing the long game, reinvesting the money made from her cosmetic line, beauty subscription service and how-to videos—you, too, can look like Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga with the right makeup—into her brand.

Rounding out the list is Rosanna Pansino, who made $2.5 million.The self-trained pastry chef has taken the cooking show format to the internet and has a cookbook coming out next month, making her a name to watch for next year’s list.

When YouTube was founded ten years ago, it was with the mission “to provide fast and easy video access and the ability to share videos frequently.” Now it can add another: minting young millionaires by the dozen.



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