After months of beta testing in India, has arrived in the United States.
On Thursday, YouTube that it’s begun rolling out its shortform video TikTok competitor in the U.S.
While Shorts videos could have been viewed stateside since the beta launch, the creator tools that facilitate YouTube Shorts are making their debut in the U.S. today.
YouTube also announced that it has partnerships with 250 music labels and publishers, such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Publishing, Warner Music Group and more. This is a huge starting point for a new shortform video app, given how music edits and dance videos make up a large portion of the most popular content on TikTok.
YouTube Shorts product lead Todd Sherman walked Mashable through the platform and answered some questions as to where Shorts is headed.
“YouTube Shorts really feels like a natural part of YouTube’s evolution,” Sherman said over a Google Hangouts chat. “But it’s early for us. We feel like we’re just getting started.”
Over the years, YouTube has cemented itself as the place for longer videos whereas other platforms, like the now-defunct Vine and TikTok, stepped in for bite-sized clips.
It certainly is early for YouTube Shorts. As of now, Shorts creator tools are very rudimentary. A very basic editing tool enables users to record, cut up clips, and add some simple timers, text, and filters. Compared to TikTok, the most popular app in the space, which automatically syncs sound and provides a slew of effects that help facilitate the creation of various types of video challenges, YouTube Shorts is still very much in beta.
Unlike TikTok, however, YouTube Shorts is not a standalone product. It’s built right into the larger YouTube platform, so YouTube users may have already seen many shortform videos with the hashtag “#Shorts” in the title. In our conversation, Sherman dispelled a common misconception about Shorts: Creators need to put “#Shorts” in a video’s title to be included in YouTube Shorts. That’s not true.
In fact, YouTube’s system will pull any square or rectangle vertical video (dimensions common when shooting video with your smartphone in portrait mode) that’s sixty seconds in length or less into the YouTube Shorts feed. There’s no need to include the “#Shorts” hashtag.
But building Shorts right into YouTube certainly does have its advantages. For example, creators can take advantage of YouTube’s entire video library — billions of videos from all around the world — to remix, edit, and interact with. The creator tool released in the U.S. helps make that happen with the tap of a button.
Much like TikTok, viewers can see other videos that remix the same music and sound as the clip they were watching. Clicking on a hashtag will take you to more videos uploaded under that same hashtag. But, because YouTube Shorts is built into the broader YouTube platform, the creator of the audio being remixed gets some additional benefits too. For example, along with those other remixed videos, YouTube Shorts can take users directly to the original creators’ YouTube channel, which can help them build up their subscriber base as well.
For creators, the chance to build up their channel may be the biggest draw for YouTube Shorts. For now at least, YouTube Shorts are not monetized, even if you’re a creator who is part of YouTube’s monetization program.
“We certainly plan to [monetize] Shorts but it’s going to take a fresh look at what it means to monetize shortform video,” Sherman explained. “I think shortform video needs a different business model than longform YouTube.”
With that in mind, YouTube does already treat its YouTube Short videos differently to regular YouTube uploads. Subscribers to a YouTube channel won’t receive a notification every time that YouTuber uploads a Short. Those “bell notifications” are disabled for YouTube Shorts videos. Sherman says YouTube is also already looking into separating Shorts videos from longform videos on YouTube channel pages.
And while YouTube Shorts is planning to add many editing features and effects to its creators tool, things that helped make TikTok so popular, it’s clear the company doesn’t want Shorts to be viewed as “just” a TikTok competitor.
Regardless though, it’s clear TikTok is ahead of every other platform when it comes to shortform video. Facebook knows this, which is why the company to demote videos uploaded to Instagram Reels that are repurposed from TikTok. Sherman tells me that YouTube currently has no plans to discourage creators from uploading their TikTok videos with the TikTok watermark, but the company will be monitoring that situation.
As Sherman pointed out in our discussion, many of TikTok’s defining features came from other platforms. Vine brought us multi-clip videos. Smule pioneered duets. Recording with audio from another source? Dubsmash and Musical.ly, an app which TikTok’s parent company acquired in order to launch TikTok in the U.S., were the firsts on that front.
And YouTube has its own plans for Shorts.
“What does it mean to connect a shortform video ecosystem to broader, longform YouTube? To YouTube Music? Not just in a way where you can learn more about an artist or video or channel, but in a way where creation is enabled,” posed Sherman. “I think those things are going to unleash a lot of creativity and those things only can happen here.”
“I would just say stay tuned.”