Highly successful You Tube creator Thomas Heaton's YT Page. With over a quarter of a million subscribers, his monetarized channel generates a sizable income but does churning out vlogs blunt a successful YouTuber's creativity?
'YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. The service was created by three former PayPal employees—Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim—in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google's subsidiaries. '...Wikipedia
Of all the distinct elements of the Internet, the ability for ordinary people to create videos which can be hosted and distributed globally for free, is one of the 20th century's greatest creative innovations. Twenty years ago, who would have imagined that with camcorders, cameras and eventually mobile phones, the person in the street could create a video on any subject that takes their fancy and download it on to the Internet! A wedding in Bootle which a long lost relation in Australia could watch on the same day. Someone explaining how to change an oil filter on a VW Golf or how to make Eggs Benedict.
In fact, there is virtually nothing under the sun which cannot be found on YouTube and if you have an interest in say classic cars, rock climbing or fixing computers, it's all there waiting to found with a few words in the search box.
In these days of multi faceted media, old fashioned terrestrial TV has been taking a battering from the new digital leviathans like Netflix and Amazon who stride the Internet, conquering all before them. Of course YouTube fits into this new media age with its content available to view on modern TV sets. I tend to watch YouTube on TV because visually its a hell of a lot better than watching on a phone or laptop. Traditionally YouTube viewers tended to watch videos on mobile devices but there has been a massive shift recently to TV viewing of the channel and the company are shifting their emphasis on the big screen as advertisers are aware that their glossy multi million dollar ad campaign will look a lot more striking on a 48” HD screen than a crappy iPhone 5!
I'm certainly one of those converts to TV YouTube viewing and certainly watch a lot more on the channel than I watch terrestrial TV, which apart from the occasional drama or documentary holds little interest for me. Like most regular YT viewers I have my favourite creators whose channels I subscribe to. Generally Van Life series, wild camping/outdoorsy stuff and some quirky things like narrow boating and one or two off the wall channels. One of the things I've noticed about YT creators however. The more successful they become, the less compelling their videos are for me. For the really big players with subscribers in six figures, I've noticed that my interest in their content winds down in relation to their output. The problem is, success appears to bring a change in philosophy. No longer are vlogs produced to entertain and communicate with like minded souls. Vlogs are produced to make money! Most of these successful YT vloggers monetize their channels so that Google- who own YouTube- pay them based on the advertising which precede their videos. The more subscribers the more hits; the more hits the more money!
Consequentially, YT creators have a financial interest in churning out vlogs to keep the financial pot boiling. Quantity replaces quality. Unfortunately, a lot of my favourite YT creators have fallen into this creative black hole. The other side effect of this splurge in production is that for the viewer,familiarity breeds contempt. Overkill equals boredom. What was once an intimate and entertaining engagement with a creator becomes a shallow experience and paradoxically-for me at least- as the creator's audience grows, monetisation loosens the bonds of kinship. Sadly, the commercialization doesn't end there as creators begin to use sponsors and include advertising on their vlogs. The ultimate commercial insult to me is when they start holding out the begging bowl of Patreon. If you are not familiar with Patreon well basically it is a YT creator asking for a paid membership subscription for their channel in return for 'exclusive' previews, out-takes and other equally pointless rewards.
A while back I started downloading the odd video to YT as a form of personal diary without linking any of these vids to my social network accounts, on a camcorder then digital cameras and my editing skills left a lot to be desired. Lots of shaky camera work, poor sound quality, clunky editing and guaranteed to have the viewer reaching for the back button on their keyboard or the return button on their TV remote! However, in the last year I've invested in drones,cameras, decent mics and various accessories which have improved the quality somewhat and my editing skills have got a touch better. To my surprise I've got a few dozen subscribers who appear to have taken something out of some of the vlogs. Although their appears to be no rhyme nor reason to viewing habits. One video might receive a couple of dozen views while another is in the thousands...weird??? But given that I'm unlikely to ever match say Thomas Heaton or Kombi Life for subscribers I feel pretty safe in saying that the dubious rewards of commercialization will never be an issue for me!
But back the the main thrust of this piece; Monetization, sponsorship and holding out the Patreon begging bowl oft times, really screws up the artistic value of a YT creator's work in my opinion. It's a shame how so many of my once favourite vloggers have lost their creative mojo and are now just churning out any old rubbish just to fill their channel with content and their back account with dollars.The concept of 'less is more' an alien concept to the these creators it sadly appears.