Boom in Live Video Helping Some Creators Make a Living

Casey Cooper is one of the most famous drummers on the planet right now. He has a million followers on YouTube, and his flaming-sticks drumming cover of Ellie Goulding's "Burn" is insane.

But he'd just prefer you skip his recorded performances and instead catch him live -- on streaming video, that is -- because he can make more money that way.

Live video is fast emerging as a lucrative corner of the internet where artists can profit from fans who tip lavishly in order to rub virtual shoulders with their favorite broadcasters. Startups such as Ampli.fi and YouNow are helping foster a digital economy around live video. Now, deep-pocketed tech goliaths like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are joining the party .

Different performers have different reasons for preferring live video. Cooper, 24, says fan tips can bring in much more than his hundreds of millions of views on YouTube, where copyright holders claim the ad revenue for use of their underlying songs.

Recording labels haven't reached into live performers' tip jars as they can't really replace downloads or streams of songs. A handful of sites including YouNow have registered to pay songwriting royalties, but the fee is minimal, according to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Cooper's first session on Ampli.fi, a musician-focused streaming service, netted him nearly $100 in about an hour.

Power to the People

"It's so powerful," says Cooper, who broadcast his live show from his home in Canton, Georgia. "People will say, 'Please, please, please just shout me out. Say my username.'"

Such intense fan interaction is one reason internet and media companies are jump-starting their live-video efforts. Facebook is spending tens of millions of dollars recruiting celebrities such as Kevin Hart and Gordon Ramsay for shows on its Facebook Live system. YouTube just announced the ability to go live from your...

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