LBRY, pronounced “library,” is often thought of as an alternative to YouTube. They allow YouTubers to sync their content automatically and earn crypto. This has attracted quite a bit of interest from all corners of the web, but is it worthwhile, and how does it work?
Here’s what you need to know before deciding if it might fit your content distribution and monetization strategy.
YouTube vs. LBRY — What’s Different?
If you visit lbry.tv, you will see a site reminiscent of YouTube. Indeed, many sites have adopted a similar format. However, LBRY is different in several significant ways.
Centralized vs. Decentralized
Centralized platforms such as YouTube store files on their servers and allow users to access them. In contrast, LBRY uses blockchain technology, enabling people to create databases that no single entity controls. When you upload to LBRY, an entry is made on the LBRY blockchain, which notifies the network and contains instructions on how to download it from the peer-to-peer network.
Moderated vs. Uncesorable
YouTube moderates content uploaded to its platform. Their first priority is to prevent content from being uploaded that is illegal in the United States. This could be something genuinely sinister and disturbing, or it could just be copyrighted material. They have a highly sophisticated array of solutions to police this, including automated systems, community tools, staff, and contractors.
Next, they need to keep their platform advertiser-friendly. Their ideal creators provide original content that is clean, safe, and still manages to attract vast amounts of attention. Content that is technically legal but deemed disturbing, distasteful, or controversial risks penalties. YouTube may implement various measures to demonetize (prevent ads from running on it), limit its reach, delete the video, or even remove the entire channel.
Beyond ensuring that content is legal and advertiser-friendly, YouTube has been accused of bias and censorship. And, their moderation mechanisms sometimes penalize perfectly harmless content. We know this from the many documented cases of creators appealing and YouTube later removing the imposed restrictions. All centralized platforms struggle with these issues.
In contrast, LBRY is not a platform. It is a protocol. Thus, in the same way, that no single entity can moderate the open web or email, there is no central authority to control what is uploaded to the LBRY network. The lbry.tv website is managed by LBRY, Inc. However, that is just a single interface to the protocol. LBRY, Inc. can no more control the LBRY network than Google can control the open web.
Closed vs. Open Source
As businesses, part of the value of platforms such as YouTube is their technology, mostly closed-source. This means that it cannot be audited, and only their in-house engineers can work on improving it. Since it is an internet protocol, anyone can build apps that interact with digital content on the LBRY network. The software which runs it is open source and managed by the community. This makes everything much more transparent and democratic.
Legacy Payment Systems vs. Crypto
While creators can monetize their content on platforms such as YouTube, there are many intermediaries involved. This includes the platform operator, payment processor, credit card companies, and others. As a result, the cut received by the creator is diluted. Furthermore, each tech stack layer can exert pressure on the platform to moderate certain types of content.
With LBRY, creators can upload their work, set a price per stream or download, or give it away. Tips and purchases of paid content occur using the cryptocurrency LBC (LBRY Credits) and are peer-to-peer. No payment processing layer operators are acting as censors or gatekeepers.
The LBRY YouTube Program
How Does it work?
In a nutshell, LBRY lets you mirror your YouTube content and get paid in LBC. Once you have the LBC, you can send it to an exchange account to convert it to other cryptocurrencies or fiat (such as USD, etc.)
Here is a summary of the process.
- Sign up for LBRY.
- Apply for their YouTube Partner Program.
- There will be a manual review by the LBRY team.
- If you are approved, your videos will be copied to LBRY.
- Rewards can be claimed monthly.
- Minimum 100 subscribers on YouTube (your subscription count must be public on YouTube)
- You have been consistently publishing videos at least twice a month
- Your content is original and legal to post in your jurisdiction.
If you don’t qualify, you will still be able to upload videos to LBRY directly.
- The mirroring of your YouTube content can take some time, depending on how extensive your catalog is and how busy the LBRY network is.
- Videos longer than 1 hour will only be synced for channels with more than 1000 subscribers
- Videos longer than 2 hours will not be synced
- Videos bigger than 2GB will be synced at lower quality (1080p, 720p, 480p, …)
- Only your 1,000 most recent videos will be synced
- Private or unlisted videos will not be published.
- Rewards can only be claimed if you have over 1k subs and 10k YouTube views, and as long as you publish content regularly. If rewards are not claimed for over three months, any subsequent months will be forfeited.
Will Being on LBRY Hurt Your Brand??
There are a couple of free-speech video platforms that allow YouTube channel syncing, but their unmoderated top pages are packed with content that has led to their being labeled as hotbeds for extremists. Thus, if your content is normie-friendly, you may decide that having your brand associated with the other creators on such platforms is too risky.
LBRY also attracts a lot of creators that are too edgy for YouTube. However, for now, LBRY’s public image is relatively benign due to how the LBRY, Inc. team curates and moderates the top page of lbry.tv. Furthermore, since LBRY is a protocol and not a centralized platform, there are many more possibilities.
Learn More About LBRY
The fastest way to understand LBRY is to sign up, check out some of the content on there, and get used to how it works. However, if you are busy and prefer to have a normie-friendly explanation, I’ve found that interviews on YouTube with LBRY CEO, Jeremy Kauffman, are a good place to start.