Keep YouTube Weird

My dear friend and former studio/label partner Michael Donaldson has a better (and much shorter) version of this tirade over at his 8-Sided Blog. You can find it here.

I have two Tube of Yous accounts. One I created to put up odd Logic Pro tricks and tips as I found them. Since I’ve pretty much switched to Reaper on my desk- and laptops and moved to all flavors of audio and sequencing madness on iOS I don’t put much there anymore. (Although I really should upload what I’m doing now…) My second account is for what I watch and subscribe to. I watch a lot of YouTube. I absolutely love it.

Yeah, there’s a whole lotta hot garbage to be found there, and YouTube’s algorithm does everything it can to point you to it to make $$$$. But even having to dodge that insanity I’m convinced that for the masses it’s the best way to find new things and to learn things too. It’s even become one of the places everyone goes for music and music videos.

And about every few months I hear someone complaining about YouTube on YouTube. I usually unsubscribe or stop watching them after that…

But before I get deeper into why, let’s refresh ourselves about what YouTube is first.

YT is owned by Google. It’s one of its subsidiaries.

Google amasses a lot of information, and makes applications, software, and even hardware to leverage that info. But at its heart it’s in the business of selling ads and providing said information to advertisers so they can better target you for what they want to sell to you.

Always remember this. You can’t make billions of dollars a Quarter and employ thousands of people by giving everything away for free.

So how does YouTube make the money it needs to spend on infrastructure, storage (videos eat up a lot of drive space), and paying its contributors? By constantly going to Mom (Google) and asking for an allowance? Well, sometimes. But the goal is to teach independence. And much like children, you hope they’ll not only be able to snag on their own, but can also contribute to the family coffers in the future as well.

So Mother Google has them deliver ads. Lots and lots of ads. Or if you prefer, you can pony up for YouTube Red (or Premium, or whatever they’re calling it this week) and give them $120 a year or so to get rid of said advertisements for you.

But they also gather a lot of information about what you watch, how long you watch it for, what you comment, your scrolling through lists, and even where your cursor is hovering. All of this info is sucked into Mommy Dearest’s machinery for analytics and the advertisers who pay the bills. (that’s part of that contribution thing mentioned above…)

Got it? Excellent. 🙂

So all of this BS about ‘Oh noes! YouTube is manipulating their algorithm again and we’re all in big trouble!’ Is missing the point. If a socially unacceptable video goes viral and the public at large reacts negatively (advertisers can do this too), YT in a panic of losing revenue (and favorability with Mom) also reacts (or overreacts) and fiddles with their settings to ‘fix’ the problem because no feasible quantity of man and/or machine can realistically check hundreds of hours of video uploaded every single minute to their platform. YouTube is not alone here – this happens in every other industry when something goes wrong in the age of Social Media. How many times have you seen Twiddler® or Farcebook® explode because of an advertisement or a CEO’s political ramblings and now everyone is asked to boycott said product or service? Money talks and the big kids on the playground don’t want to lose their speech.

Makes sense, yes? 

So what is this (latest) ‘Creator Adpocalypse’ all about?

Simply put, Putting all of your eggs in one basket. And let’s be honest here – it actually putting your eggs in someone else’s basket hoping that they will pay you forever and in ever-increasing amounts as long as you continue to provide eggs into said basket.

In other words, the people complaining the most are the ones who’ve boldly decided to make YouTube videos their career.

Everything has a lifespan. People are born, do stuff, and slip off the mortal coil. Everything created has a finite amount of time as well.

Not everyone who writes a hit song can expect their career to last forever. Nor can anyone making television shows, movies, hairstyles, furniture, wallpaper, or fidget spinners. Tastes change, times change, and the public is almost always chasing the new and shiny.  

Enjoy the run while it lasts, but you’d better have (or find) a contingency plan in case it’s shorter that you think. Brian May of Queen got his freakin’ PhD in Astrophysics for cryin’ out loud…

I’m not trying to be flippant here, nor am I trying to say you can’t be a success at what you want to do. But if you want to play in someone else’s Egg Basket, you’re going to have to play by their rules. If this is your choice you can’t suddenly cry that the sky is falling (see what I did there?) when those rules change.

YouTube is a Private service. They make the rules for their service. They can change these rules any time they want to. You don’t have to use their service if you don’t like their rules.

And that is what is happening here with this latest ‘Apocalypse’. YT moved the cheese again, and those who have made it their sole (or major) source of income now have to make changes or perish. You’ll hear about it when it happens again in the future too. In fact, you’ll hear about this many times until the shouts finally fall upon deaf ears…

Why? Let’s think about this:

So you had an idea for a YT Channel and due to your content, delivery, or even dumb luck it’s become a booming success and you’re suddenly making money. A pretty surprising amount of money… Fabulous! You’ve beaten the system!

For now.

But what are you going to have to do to keep both your fans and the parent company (um, that would be YouTube and its Advertising Patrons) happy?

Do you continue to make great content like what your current following enjoys and consider the windfalls a bonus for doing something you love?

Or do you get stars in your eyes, think you can do no wrong, and start playing to the machine to get more subscribers, more likes, more notification and ultimately capitulate to the powers that be and test and modify and change Thumbnails and Titles and Descriptions and Zinger Comments and Polls and…oh just stop already!

You know the right answer here.

And trust me that we, your viewers can see right through it. This is why I personally unsub after hearing a ‘Creator’ complain about this, because I know they’ve lost the plot.

I’m betting I’m not alone here either.

If we want content created by committee and filtered through focus groups and sanitized for our protection then there are still lots and lots of networks that produce them and run them (with commercial sponsorship as well) on a nightly or weekly basis. Maybe you should take your ideas there if this is really want you want to do. You could also make your own Network using the power of The Interwebz® and keep all that control to yourself if it’s good enough.

The Tube of Yous is television by and for weirdos like you and me. If you want to learn Underwater Basket Weaving, there is someone who will teach you how to do it. If you want to find funny videos of cats or pranks or cats doing pranks or pranks on cats there are bajillions. If you want to see what life is like outside of your little bubble of the planet or how to learn the language of those people you just found outside your bubble there’s that too. Yes, you’ll have to sort through some dumpster fires to find the good stuff you want to watch, but you’ll be amazed at what’s there if you take some time to look. 

And they’re doing it because they love to. Not because they want to be an ‘Influencer’ or ‘YT Superstar’ or a Network Executive – they just want to share. They don’t care about revenue or rankings or optimization. This is not a job for them, this is a hobby with a community of like-minded weirdos. This is fun

So Keep YouTube Weird please. If you outgrow it there are better places to put your wares. We’ll still come watch if your content speaks to us…

-Until next time…

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