YouTube star Felix ‘PewDiePie’ Kjellberg has responded to online criticism after it was revealed that he earned $7.4m in 2014 from his gaming videos.
The earnings were published in a financial filing in Sweden by his company PewDie Productions and reported on news site Expressen.
The PewDiePie channel was the most popular on YouTube in 2014 with more than 4bn video views, ending the year with more than 33 million subscribers.
As news stories about Kjellberg’s income trended on Facebook, though, he was attacked for not deserving these financial rewards, spurring him into publishing a YouTube video called “Let’s Talk About Money” to address the criticism.
“Money is a topic that I have purposefully tried to avoid for the five years that I’ve been making videos, because I just feel like it’s not important to anyone,” said the 25-year-old, before reminding fans that he funded his early efforts on YouTube by working on a hot-dog stand.
“The fact that I could make videos was so much more important to me than [that] I had to spend a few hours a day doing a job that wasn’t that prestigious,” he said.
“I knew people were big at other types of videos, but there was no one big in gaming, and I didn’t know you could make money out of it. It was never like a career that I could just quit college to pursue. it was just something I loved to do. And here we are five years later and it’s exploded.”
Kjellberg read out and responded to some of the more critical Facebook comments during his video, while defending the work he puts in to his channel, which focuses on “Let’s Play” videos playing through games while commentating on them.
“A lot of people which I saw were very very angry. They thought it was unfair. They thought I just sit on my ass all day, and I just yell at the screen over here. Which is true! But there’s so much more to it than that,” he said.
“I understand that haters are gonna hate, alright? But I really think that money doesn’t make you happy. I am just as happy as I am now, as I was five years ago ... To see so many people being upset about this whole thing, it’s sad. It’s such a waste.”
Kjellberg also expressed irritation that his charitable fundraising attracts less coverage than his earnings, having raised money for the likes of Save the Children and Charity:Water, as his popularity has grown on YouTube.
“It seems like the whole world cares more about how much money I make than I do myself. We did raise a million dollars for charity, and very few articles picked up on that, but here it is everywhere how much money I make,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s any good reason why anyone should care, and on top of that I don’t think there’s any good reason why I should care either, so we’re just going to end it there.”
One good reason people care within the media world is that PewDiePie’s financial filing offers a rare insight into the money being made at the top end of YouTube stardom.
It’s very rare for any YouTube creator to talk about their earnings publicly, not least because YouTube itself does not encourage it.
But with many of its top stars essentially freelancers – even if they’re signed to a multi-channel network, as Kjellberg is to Maker Studios – those with their own companies will increasingly be declaring their income in financial filings.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 8th July 2015 11.48 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010