YouTube’s relationship with its content creators has been complicated for a few years now. This is mainly following the 2017 “Adpocalypse” which saw the earnings generated by videos (through advertising revenue) becoming substantially reduced – with some seeing their earnings drop 90%.
To give quickly give context for those unaware of the “Adpocalypse” and why the relationship between YouTube and its creators has become broken, here’s a quick simplified explanation (feel free to scroll past if you know or don’t care):
For years journalists criticised YouTube and their content creators. These criticisms mainly focused on the high earning potential from YouTube advertising revenue and the influence the content creators on the platform possess (potentially taking power away from journalism).
Journalists were keen to report any controversy that YouTube could be affiliated with. Terrorism, racism, sexism, & more; journalists were insistent that YouTube should be held accountable for all videos featured on their website.
Journalists began blaming brands who advertised on YouTube for encouraging this controversial content by indirectly paying the video uploaders advertising revenue.
In 2017 several content creators accidentally created controversial videos that journalists used as evidence of advertisers supporting inappropriate individuals. As a result, brands finally began pulling their advertising from YouTube.
Since then, YouTube has began favouring more commercialised and regulated content such as mainstream TV personalities, due to their family friendly brands.
Content creators have since began selling advertising spots within videos on their own – upsetting YouTube as they don’t get a cut of the revenue from these advertising deals, resulting in them allegedly limiting the reach of videos containing adverts not supplied by YouTube themselves.
Additionally, if a video is unable to generate advertising revenue YouTube will stunt its organic reach to prioritise more profitable creators.
In short, content creators want more money, and is angry with YouTube for not helping them make more money.
Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t really care, and the only reason they would care is if creators moved their audiences to a different platform.
YouTube believes they are the reason for the creators’ success, whereas creators believe they’re the reason for YouTube’s success. Therefore, the only natural progression would be for creators to either partner with other video sharing platforms or create their own platform (such as a website/app). Only when creators make this transition will they be able to have better control of their earnings and prove their worth.
Of course this is easier said than done. It’s hard to calculate how many fans pay attention to content simply because it’s conveniently within their YouTube app, or because they genuinely enjoy the content; so transferring them over to another platform can be very unpredictable.
That being said, the Joe Rogan Experience podcast reportedly signed a deal with Spotify for over $100,000,000 – so clearly Spotify believe that the audiences will transfer with relative ease.
Luckily for many of these content creators, they do have some statistics for engagement on advertising spots in their videos (such as clicking an affiliate link) which should give a low-ball indication for promoting their transition. All they need to do is promote subscribing via email on their own website (similar to how I do on here), the alternative video sharing platform, or promote their app. This simple step will mean they’ve began creating a more financially reliable platform for them to post their content to.
Substituting paid advertising spots for promoting their own content platform is ultimately a short-term sacrifice for a potentially huge payday. Even if it doesn’t work, you can always go back to YouTube knowing it’s your best option.
We’ve seen content creators use their YouTube to promote premium subscription services (such as on their own website, OnlyFans, Petreon, etc) – but not really as a way to completely leave YouTube altogether (although I’m not suggesting forcing fans to pay for a premium service, simply transferring them to another platform in order to monetise more effectively, such as through selling ad spots or premium content in addition to what they typically would put on YouTube for free).
This is just my opinion on the subject. I’d love to hear your thoughts so I can do a follow up article (if you have a differing opinion) – so if you do please send me a message here.