Recently, there’s been a noticeable shift on YouTube that centers around how content creators earn the money needed to keep their channels up and running. Not just their channels, but for many creators on the website, YouTube has grown to become their sole business and livelihood.
The reason behind the drastic shift in how advertisement works on YouTube stems from several different occurrences. Without delving too deep into the primary controversy behind whether or not ads were actually running on questionable content, the response by companies has been (for lack of a better word) extreme.
While watching several of my favorite content creators explain their unique positions, I did hear a similar notion that I tend to agree with. Primarily, that many of these companies are capitalizing on the fact that they can now advertise their products on YouTube at a much cheaper rate.
YouTube is in a position where they need to do whatever they possibly can to pull these companies back in, which creates a tricky situation not only for content creators, but for YouTube itself.
I feel like many of these companies are not so much concerned about their ads running on questionable videos, but are instead using this current shift and uproar to save a few bucks.
Essentially, as leverage to bargain a better deal. This has resulted in the rise of YouTube creators either shifting over to different platforms like Twitch, or opening up a Patreon account for their subscribers to offer money in effort to keep their favorite channels going.
Now, this situation calls to mind my thoughts concerning the growing trend of sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Crowdfunding has become a popular way to help meet monetary struggles in every aspect of life from emergency medical expenses, to pursuing a particular dream, goal, or ambition.
I want to be clear here that I don’t see anything wrong with crowdfunding, even on campaigns that may seem a bit self-centered or unnecessary. The main reason why I don’t see anything particularly wrong with this is that everyone has the free will to place (or not place) their money wherever they wish.
You’re not forced to contribute to a campaign, or a Patreon, or some other form of crowdfunding if you do not want to. However, this shift in relation to YouTube does present an interesting conundrum.
How can YouTube itself survive if much of the revenue it once garnered is now circumventing the middleman (advertisers) and is instead going directly to the content creators themselves.
The main worry is how YouTube will sustain itself moving forward should a large number of creators drop their reliance on ads and use options like Patreon instead.
While the site has never been in a life or death position, it’s used to breaking even year after year. Now that advertisers have either been pulling out entirely, or drastically altering the way in which they do business with the company, YouTube is facing a genuinely serious issue in terms of site structure.
More so than creators (though directly related to the situation creators now find themselves in). I realize this sounds a bit harsh, but with the fear spreading through YouTube right now, creators still have a few choices left as to how they can supplement their income.
Patreon being one of them.
With this in mind, the main question is how YouTube itself will bounce back should some of its top creators decided to call it a day. How will YouTube sustain itself if another video content website rises from the turmoil and presents a better option?
During times like these, I often think about the very beginning of YouTube. How it was a no man’s land of individuals creating primarily low-budget content from their bedrooms. It was never done for money, but rather as a way to network and express their own creativity. Back then, YouTube was a tiny entity; a niche community.
The Google purchase, while contested a bit at first, became appreciated as it gave these loyal users the opportunity to earn money for their creative expression. Ask any artist and they’ll tell you just how difficult it is to earn money by pursuing a passion for art.
The whole “starving musician” notion is a very real circumstance, and it extends in multiple different directions. With YouTube, there’s a new venue to have your musical talents discovered, with several huge names getting their initial start on YouTube.
This, among dozens of other reasons, is why YouTube needs to address the issue at hand with both the site and creators in mind.
I sincerely hope that with more and more creators raising their voices, speaking up, and opening their hearts to express how YouTube has become an integral part of their lives, that advertisers and content creators will all do their part to help get things back to normal.
Or as normal as possible under the circumstances.
Because if you think about it, YouTube is a site full of families and beautiful individuals who deserve the chance to keep exploring YouTube and helping it grow. One of my favorite parts of YouTube are the vlogs where I get to feel, even momentarily, like I’m a welcome part of someone’s family.
Right now, the loss of advertisers may be the death of YouTube in terms of commercialism, but it’s important to note that there’s still a bright future for the site thanks to the dedication of the hardworking community of creators.
If you love a channel, make sure you support them on Patreon and help encourage them to keep making content. YouTube would not have grown to become the phenomenon that it is without the help of these talented individuals.
And if you are a YouTuber, speak up and let your viewers know your thoughts and feelings. Because despite the chaos of YouTube comments, subscribers generally do care about the channels they support.
Right now, a change is needed. One that may not be as black and white as pulling advertisers back in, but instead refusing to let advertisers dictate the creative freedom that serves as the strength, core, and foundation of YouTube itself.