According to Wikipedia’s List of most popular websites, YouTube is second ranked behind Google, both part of the American conglomerate Internet monopoly known today as Alphabet Inc.. Why is this important for Climate State, because we used to upload climate related video content there for years, and begun to take a more professional approach starting around 2016.
Combined we uploaded roughly 1500 videos to two YouTube channels. Everybody who ever edited his own video may have a grasp what this means in terms of time commitments, especially if you add your own narration, music, sound effects.
The Early Days
When Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, part of the Paypal Mafia, created YouTube in 2005, they couldn’t have possibly anticipate the success of this video platform, which had initially the slogan, Broadcast Yourself, showcased with the very first YouTube video uploaded by Jawed, where he talks about long elephant trunks in the zoo. Everybody could upload unlimited videos for free, comment, or just explore the explosive growing content amounts.
NPR (2006): YouTube, the wildly popular video-sharing Web site, was an underground phenomenon just a few months ago. [..] Most of the videos are homemade by people largely under 30. [..] NBC had to acknowledge that the viewing of its “Lazy Sunday” video online brought Saturday Night Live more attention than it had seen in years.
The success of this new video platform did not went unnoticed by then Google Video CEO Susan Wojcicki (Today in charge at YouTube), and later in 2006 they inked the acquisition of YouTube by Google for $1.65 billion. From today’s perspective this may appear little, granted that YouTube basically is second most visited website on the planet, the largest by traffic and time spent.
However, YouTube initially struggled to turn a profit, but this changed with rolling out the YouTube’s Partner Program, which took several years – and was envisioned by the original founders, before Google came, a memo from August 2006 reads, first advertising concepts launched: Participatory Video Ads (PVA) and Brand Channels. By August 2011 there were more than 10,000 YouTube partners, including many of the mainstream media names.
YouTube Blog (2007): Recognizing YouTube users for their creativity and their role in building YouTube is of the utmost importance to our team. That’s why earlier this year we launched a pilot of the YouTube Partner Program, our way of enabling some of the most popular and prolific original content creators within the YouTube community to earn money from their videos.
The Golden Age of YouTube
We write the year 2012, YouTube has matured, tested their business model, attracted the masses including the creative, and then with a stroke of genius, they decide to open the number one spot on our Internet for everybody to make content, and to grant an easy accessible business model based on ad-revenue, in order to make a living from it.
The Verge (2012): If you’ve got a single piece of qualifying content and are in one of 20 countries now enrolled in the program, you can choose to monetize it immediately and become a Partner on the spot.
There was never a better motivation for people to create quality content, content which attracts views, lot of views. Many misused the system, adding sensational thumbnails, using misleading video titles, today we all know the term clickbait. By 2015 a Bloomberg article noted,
Just a few months ago, YouTube was said to be unprofitable in spite of generating $4 billion in revenue last year. But Google’s earnings call made the case that YouTube is a key driver for the company’s growth. CFO Ruth Porat cited “significant growth in YouTube revenues” ..
The ad revenue enabled people all around the world to choose a different life style, dictated by their own decisions (as long their YouTube channel was profitable enough), basically it gave the Internet a real meaning. The crucial rise of YouTube, and becoming possibly one of the largest modern global Internet employees happened under CEO Salar Kamangar. His successor in 2014 was Susan Wojcicki, who earlier made the acquisition of YouTube, and wife of Google founder Sergey Brin.
YouTube Today a Shadow of its former Self
The Verge just announced the end of YouTube as we knew it,
The golden age of YouTube — the YouTube of a million different creators all making enough money to support themselves by creating videos about doing what they love — is over.
I agree. The article continues, 2015 was a year when YouTube was at its most vibrant. Then, suddenly, creators started encountering problems on the platform. In 2016, personalities like Philip DeFranco, comedians like Jesse Ridgway, and dozens of other popular creators started noticing that their videos were being demonetized.
The article authored by Verge’s Julia Alexander goes on to explain how a few videos were taken to collectively punish the entire creative content creator YouTube community, then concludes,
YouTube is “pushing content creators away instead of inviting them to a social platform that encourages them to be creative in a way that other platforms can’t.” Even people outside of YouTube saw what was happening. “YouTube is inevitably heading towards being like television, but they never told their creators this,” Jamie Cohen, a professor of new media at Molloy College.
By promoting videos that meet certain criteria, YouTube tips the scales in favor of organizations or creators — big ones, mostly — that can meet those standards. [..] late-night shows began to dominate YouTube, along with music videos from major labels. The platform now looked the way it had when it started, but with the stamp of Hollywood approval.
If you search something today on YouTube it is very likely that all the top search results are from the established old media landscape including news outlets such as, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and it doesn’t stop there.
If we post something not really spot on about climate change, for instance about an Extreme Weather event, we do not get listed in the YouTube search entirely, same for our videos in German language, unless you type in our video title to some degree, beyond the usual search hashtag phrases. Some are apparently more equal than others to YouTube, and it is not a good thing.
Today’s slogan may well be summed up like, broadcast yourself but don’t complain if nobody watches it (Because we don’t care any longer), and especially apparent if you start fresh, have no subscribers. If you want to learn how heart wrenching the lose of YouTube as an income source is for probably 99% of past partners, search this twitter term teamyoutube.
Meanwhile the remaining Climate State channel (the one not terminated for unknown reasons) remains demonetized for unknown reasons since almost five months.
Just in the past 30 days our content created over a quarter of million views on crucial climate topics, new videos we extensively edited, or watch this, including obtaining all the rights, but we made this for free. Hence, we need outside support, people pitching in some funds, even if small can add up, with a donation or by becoming a Patreon. We need to pay bills too 🙂
Incompetence Paired with Drunk on Success?
Countless of millions were lured by YouTube’s promise to monetize their content, naturally people chosen to upload content to the platform and this continued for several years. People invested into productions, literally dedicated years of their life to make their channel great, and at the same time helped to make YouTube the largest social video platform in the world.
How would you react if your employee suddenly stopped paying a salary, not even informing you, instead telling you months after months that they will look into this issue? One must ask at what point this is considered criminal.
At the height of this success story, it became clear that the YouTube management was not able to continue the relationship, the trust it gained from it’s audience, unable to life up to the expectations, instead with small steps it rolled back every little freedom creators had, until entire user accounts were simply deleted, or in YouTube’s own speak, terminated.
Creators live in a climate of constant fear that a single keyword, a glitch, a report, a new guideline, may hopefully not destroy their work. Creators are at the mercy of the YouTube AI, outsourced staff decisions, algorithms, a flawed Content ID system.
Today it appears the success of a video is often simply up to pure luck. In this environment content which is as little controversial as possible, dumped down to the lowest average IQ possible has the best chance to fit into the new YouTube image, envisioned by people who do not create content, people who did not create the platform.
If people will not be able to be compensated for their video content, they will switch the moment a proper alternative comes around. There are already a couple of smaller video platforms, but oddly enough not a single one which offers ad-revenue, embedding, and has the same professional touch like YouTube does.
There is Bitchute, where we begun backing up all our YouTube videos, since after YouTube terminated one of our channel forever (the other one only for a month), we live in constant fear. The site has potential but only grows slowly and lacks some important things to really make it standout. In case of a twitter alternative there is Parler.com, and with many other similar sites, the current monopoly social ecosystem will continue to fracture erode in all it’s aspects, and one day there is the real YouTube alternative, a moment arises when millions switch to a new platform within days, weeks, and months.
The good thing one has only to copy the former YouTube model, and better handle copyright issues, starting with a Content ID system versed in public domain content and clear fair use guidelines.
Make Climate State Great Again.
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