When Youtube Stabbed Its Content Creators
Content creation is more unequal than ever before
In January 2018 YouTube succeeded in losing some of their greatest content creators by making it very difficult for small producers to monetise their videos. As a platform where videos could be uploaded, the YouTube partnership program allowed creators to generate money through monetisation at a certain level. This was axed for all but the bigger content producers last year.
Certain sorts of videos get far more hits than others. Talking heads with strong opinions, soft porn, celebrity chat, commercial channel videos and videos with special effects beyond the level of an ordinary creator. Other videos, no less important get much much less - take wildlife or green issues, some of the most important stuff in our time or anything relatively serious. Of course this also includes really bad videos or frivolous content.
Josie from New Zealand from her channel - Josie's film chats articulated the concerns of many through her video uploaded then, transcribed below:
"Today I was meant to release a video about Dr Who that I pre-recorded, then I got an email last night from YouTube and I kind of just want to talk about that today, because it’s been kind of a rough time since I received that email ugh. So for those of you who aren’t aware, uh, YouTube announced yesterday that they were changing the rules for their partnership program uh, and its really going to affect small channels like my channel, um … I started my channel January last year, 2017, … [10,000 views across your channel before monetization] which I thought was totally fair and I spent all year working really really hard to get to that 10,000 views, it took me about nine months in total and, it was really hard, and now my channel is at about 14,000 views … and I’m not making a living off this in any way shape or form. But I’m making the smallest, its about, like a dollar per thousand views if that. But it was nice … I felt really proud of myself because it felt like an achievable goal when they announced that 10,000 views … it was clearly within the grasp of a small channel. … These new rules that they’ve announced, you need to have a thousand subscribers, I’m at about 270, and to be honest I’m quite happy with the size of my channel … what I really want is just like a really strong community and a small audience can have a strong community … The whole point of YouTube is to build a community and to connect with people, and to have conversations like this one … to get to a thousand subscribers … so that’s going to be another four years at that rate, that’s not realistically achievable in the same sort of way that the 10,000 views was for me. And then on top of that, you need to have had 4000 watch time hours, hours! That is like a punch to the stomach because … [I’d need to have 10 times as many minutes watched] … in a year to be monetized … They are cutting out small YouTubers here … But what I think is really bad about this is that they are not creating a realistic standard for people to start their YouTube channels who want to have this as a job … It takes a lot of time to put videos up consistently. It’s probably about four hours of my week at least, and I work full time as well … this is out of my reach … It changes your drive entirely. …. They entirely change everything about starting a YouTube channel [they want more control over ads] There’s not very much much transparency about how the algorithm works …" - https://youtu.be/lFkAxvN4-8w
Josie's emotion is palpable as she avoids trying to get too emotional in expressing her yearnings and how her ambitions have not just been thwarted, but crushed - as a private, highly articulate, content creator.
At a time that YouTube allows certain viewers to download videos regardless of if content creators may actually allow potentially open copyright infringement. At a time when YouTube is probably the biggest video site on the planet and certainly the most watched - They cut off rewarding some of their best content producers.
Josie was desperate to keep going, but true to her words her video uploads have largely ceased now and other small time producers dream about getting 1K subscribers in, perhaps a decade if they are lucky, let alone the watch hours that represent a harder obstacle, as Josie acknowledges.
It represents a rise in mediocrity or populism or perhaps just shrewd money grabbing by one of the wealthiest companies on the planet.