You know what's incredible?
Some people make money by making videos of themselves playing video games.
Imagine someone trying to do that, like, ten years ago- the year 2004. YouTube didn't exist yet. The Xbox 360 wouldn't come out for another year. We didn't even have iPhones yet.
Imagine the following conversation:
"Hi, Chuck! Hey, didja see Battlestar Galactica last night?"
"Nah, went to see the third Harry Potter movie. Was it good?"
"Of course it was. Hey, have you figured out what you're gonna do now that you've lost your job?"
"Actually, I have. I've decided that I'm going to make videos of myself playing video games. I'll post them on the Internet, and when people watch them, I'll make money from the advertising they'll have to watch."
"It'll work, man. You'll see."
"Why would anyone care about some random guy playing a video game?"
"I don't know... I'll do funny voices or something."
"Get a real job."
According to Wikipedia, the great-granddaddy of the Let's Play video was Something Awful's screenshot playthrough of The Oregon Trail in 2006. You can see how far we've come since then.
(As a side note, WOW! Oregon Trail! In first through third grade, they used to take us to the computer lab and let us play that! On the reeeeally old Mac computers.)
So people really can make money by making Let's Play videos. Want an example? Just look at PewDiePie (but be warned that sometimes he says bad words. Ooooooooooohhh.). Plays video games, kicks butt, screams a lot, gets a check from YouTube.
There are a bunch of people who have made an entire career out of making YouTube videos. Like, they don't have other jobs (although they might work on other profitable projects, as well). My personal favorites (who, as fair warning, also sometimes say bad words) are jacksfilms and Tobuscus, and all their related channels.
It's kind of crazy to see how many people are making money by posting videos on YouTube. Thanks to the Internet, the world is becoming increasingly self-published. People can create art, videos, and books and make money off them without going through the traditional film companies or publishers.
People have suggested to me quite often that I write a book and publish it for Kindle. I am not quite ready to abandon the traditional route of publishing (and it'll also be a miracle if I ever finish writing a book. You've seen my NaNoWriMo efforts). I just feel like the final product is much more polished that way, since there are a ton of people whose job it is to put books together and you also have an editor who is not afraid to tell you when something you've written is garbage and needs to be changed. Granted, not every traditionally published book is good (there are a few doozies I could talk about in a different post), but I think that there's really something to be said for a trained and experienced editor collaborating with (or I guess sometimes bringing down the hammer on) authors to create the best book possible. That's not to say that self-published books can't be good; some of them are excellent.
It's the same with these videos- none of them have the production quality of big blockbuster films because these poor people are working with the revenue they get from ads, but they're still fun to watch.
I think traditionally-published and self-published art can coexist peacefully. And I commend anyone who makes a living from either method.