The world of social media has grown exponentially since the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube appeared.
But of all these platforms, the one that seeks to truly congratulate creators on their hard work and dedication is YouTube with its Creator Awards, also known as YouTube Play Buttons.
This achievement aims to recognize how social media platforms wouldn’t exist without their members.
You may have heard of these awards and even subscribe to some channels which have received them for their excellent work.
But you might not know how your favorite YouTubers achieved this prize and how you can do it yourself.
This guide will give you all the details on what YouTube Play Buttons are, what tiers you can work through, and some dos and don’ts when aiming for your own.
You’ll even find out who has earned the top Creator Award, a list that is so small you can count the winners on two hands.
Maybe you can even enter this prestigious group someday.
What Are YouTube Play Buttons?
YouTube Play Buttons are awards presented by YouTube to creators who meet certain criteria, including surpassing a predetermined number of subscribers.
They are plaques and trophies that come in a range of colors that certify the hard work of the YouTuber who earns them.
Until now, there are five awards representing different levels of success. They are:
- Silver Creator Award
- Gold Creator Award
- Diamond Creator Award
- Custom Creator Award
- Red Diamond Creator Award
The main way to win one of these awards is by boosting your subscriber count. You will need to aim for:
- 100,000 subscribers for Silver
- 1,000,000 subscribers for Gold
- 10,000,000 subscribers for Diamond
- 50,000,000 subscribers for Custom
- 100,000,000 subscribers for Red Diamond
Aiming For The Silver Creator Award
In some ways, the Silver Award can be the toughest to get.
Of course, 100,000 subscribers is considerably lower than one million, but starting off at zero and finding your style takes a lot of work.
You will need to put in a lot of hours to even get the first 1,000 subscribers.
By analyzing channels with the Silver Play Button, you will likely realize you need to post between 200 and 400 videos of good content to achieve 100,000 subscribers.
Some achieve it more quickly, while others take their time. As you discover your own YouTube voice, you’ll start to see what works best and what doesn’t.
Aiming For The Gold Creator Award
After you’ve surpassed the 100,000 subs mark, you’ll need to find a good balance between sticking to your niche while also expanding your horizons.
Posting the same old thing every week isn’t going to bring home the gold.
Gold-awarded creators tend to have at least 1,000 videos on their channel before arriving at the one million subscribers mark.
It requires a lot of dedication, but playing to your strengths and knowing how the system works can get you there.
Aiming For The Diamond Creator Award
Making the leap from one to 10 million subscribers is a real challenge.
Not only do these creators have excellent and consistent content, they know how to optimize their videos for search engine optimization (SEO), how to get featured on other channels and social media platforms, and even be mentioned in blogs, newspapers, and magazines.
Channels with over 10,000,000 subscribers generally have over 3,500 videos.
That just goes to show how much of a long-term investment is needed to get to this level.
However, some creators achieve this level of subscribers much more quickly.
MrBeast, a YouTuber with over 132 million subs on his main channel (at the moment of writing this post), has just over 700 videos, which have gathered over 22 billion views between them.
Aiming For The Custom Creator Award
The Custom Creator Award is where the facts get murky.
It doesn’t even appear on the YouTube FAQ webpage regarding Creator Awards.
The first one ever presented to a YouTuber was in 2016 to PewDiePie when he passed the 50 million subscriber mark.
He nicknamed it the Ruby Play Button, which has since stuck as the unofficial title.
And, unlike the previous awards, it wasn’t a plaque or trophy with the play button logo on it.
It was in the shape of PewDiePie’s logo, known as the bro fist.
So far, around 20 YouTubers have received a custom award, but not all have been made or presented by YouTube.
At least two creators, MrBeast and Dude Perfect have awards that were created by a friend, fellow YouTuber Daniel Krafft.
So, keep in mind that even if you do reach 50 million subscribers, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a custom award.
Aiming For The Red Diamond Creator Award
The ultimate goal for YouTube creators is the Red Diamond Play Button.
You would need at least 100 million subscribers and to pass all of the eligibility criteria set by the platform.
So far, there are seven channels with over 100,000,000 subscribers, but only five confirmed Red Diamond Play Buttons. They belong to:
- T-Series (2019)
- PewDiePie (2019)
- Cocomelon (2020)
- SET India (2021)
- MrBeast (2022)
Kids Diana Show and Like Nastya are the two channels that also have over 100 million subs, but their awards haven’t been confirmed yet.
How To Win a YouTube Play Button
There are many criteria that YouTube takes into account when handing out Creator Awards.
Other than the minimum subscriber count, you need to continuously follow these rules:
- Have an active channel, with uploads in the last six months.
- Be in compliance with the platform’s Terms of Service.
- Not have received any Community Guidelines violations in the last year.
- Not be suspended from YouTube’s Partner Program.
- Not have any content that is a scam, spammy, or deceptive.
- Not have, or be linked to, a terminated channel.
- Have original content. Using copyrighted content or characters can lead to ineligibility.
If you have put in enough work to win an award, there are extra rules to stay eligible for the next tiers.
For example, you can’t sell or give away your award, except to members of your team.
Most of all, you need to dedicate yourself to making great content that YouTube users connect with.
For the higher levels, this can’t be achieved alone, and you should look into expanding your team to help come up with ideas, achieve better visuals, or even just look after the business side so you can focus on being artistic.
How To Redeem a YouTube Creator Award
If you have already won your first award but aren’t sure how to claim it, follow these steps:
- Wait for YouTube to verify that you meet all the conditions to win. You should receive a redemption code if you do.
- Go to the Creator Award website.
- Enter the code in the box and click “Redeem award”.
- Fill in how your channel name should appear and your shipping info.
- Click “Order Now”.
Winners from India and Brazil need to fill in extra info like their tax ID number for customs purposes.
Sadly, if you live in the following countries, you can’t claim a Play Button:
- North Korea
While creating for YouTube should be rewarding in its own sense, the Play Buttons given out by the platform are a good way to recognize the dedication that creators have given to their artistry.
YouTube seems to know the value of the users who choose this social media platform to share ideas and how they have made the site what it is.
For the creators who want to work towards a Creator Award, they need to keep on eye on their subscriber milestones while also sticking to the Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.
The final tip from this guide is to start small and study how your metrics are doing. Make changes and aim for the Silver Play Button.
There’s so much to learn from gaining 100 thousand subs that the next hundred thousand should come more easily.
After that, if you keep working hard and creating amazing content, the mythical Red Diamond could come into your hands.
Who are your favorite YouTubers with Play Buttons? Feel free to share your influences with other readers in the comments below.