Despite no longer being a prominent figure in mainstream film, television or radio, Russell Brand has continued to carve out a profitable media career for himself by turning to online platforms and embracing an anti-establishment narrative in order to gain new followers.
Brand’s following sits at 6.6 million subscribers on YouTube, 11.2 million followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, 1.4 million followers on right-wing video platform Rumble, and 3.8 million followers on Instagram.
YouTube is central to Brand’s earning ability, allowing him to get money from the advertising revenue YouTube makes each time someone watches one of his videos and sees the adverts that appear within and alongside them.
One social media expert told The Guardian they estimate Brand is “likely making £2,000 to £4,000 per video”, not including any affiliate deals or brand sponsorships that may also be running in the background.
Sponsorship is also an area in which Brand is prominent, with many of his videos featuring a product mention and link to it at the top of the video’s written description, from which earnings for high-profile YouTubers can be significant.
Brand posts videos daily to his Rumble and YouTube accounts – potentially earning thousands each month – and often taps into conspiracy theories and anti-establishment narratives which have become popular in some parts of the online world, but are also known for their ability to drive up view counts with their sensationalist and controversial content.
His videos regularly receive hundreds of thousands of views.
As a result, the demonetisation of Brand’s YouTube account is likely to have a significant impact on his earning potential.
But he remains a long way off YouTube’s biggest earners. American content creator Jimmy Donaldson, better known as MrBeast, earned 54 million US dollars (£43.6 million) in 2021, according to figures from Forbes – the most of any YouTuber – and he currently has 184 million subscribers.
Having drawn people in with his provocative content on these platforms, Brand also offers fans other ways to interact with him through subscriptions and links to his other work.
He has a dedicated subscribers’ area on the online community platform Locals, where members can sign up for a minimum 60 US dollars (£48) a year – or enter a higher amount if they wish to donate more – in order to access special bonus content from Brand, as well as the opportunity to interact with him directly.
His Instagram account includes a link to a merchandise store – although the webpage says the store is currently under review – and his website is currently selling tickets to a wellness festival scheduled for next summer and hosted by Brand and his wife, Laura Gallacher, with several tiers of weekend tickets costing between £160 and £195 each having already sold out.
The link to the merchandise store on Instagram and a message on Brand’s website note that profits from both the store and festival will go to the Stay Free Foundation – an organisation Brand chairs which works with charities helping people with addiction and mental health issues.
In addition, Brand uses his social media presence to promote his other work, including tickets to his now-postponed live stand-up comedy tour and the range of podcasts he hosts.
According to the most recent figures filed with Companies House, Brand’s personal company which he co-owns with his wife – Pablo Diablo’s Legitimate Business Firm Ltd – saw its net assets more than double from around £2 million to £4.1 million in 2021.