As a new and small YouTuber, the challenge to break through is a daunting prospect since you’ll have to be creating consistently strong content that speaks to an existing audience and there happens to already be tons of great content. To be successful: ‘content creators need to let the system prioritize their videos in search results and viewing recommendations to attract random views and long-term subscribers.’ (Wu, 2019) If you thought as a small YouTuber that is a merit based system where you reward in a free market where you rise if your content is popular and you fall if your content is unpopular – I hate to tell you this but you are unfortunately mistaken.
YouTube has morphed over the years and it is important to remember ‘The Focus on creator culture defined YouTube culture from its earliest days. The platform was a stage for creators who didn’t quite fit into Hollywood’s restrictions.’ (Alexander, 2019) We all know some unorthodox voices on YouTube that have content that rival the mainstream while their reach and production value isn’t the same the offbeat nature of them can make them preferable than the comparably boring competent voices heard in the mainstream.
The ad revenue creators in the YouTube Partnership Program allowed people to quit their day jobs and as long as they continued to produce videos of a level of quality that their became accustomed to on a consistent basis they could continue their new career. This change to the economy of ideas has had consequences for the existing media landscape and the existing algorithm has changed. According to Jamie Coheen who is Professor of New Media at Molloy College ‘YouTube is inevitably heading towards being like television, but they never told their creators this.’ (Alexander, 2019) You can not like individual creators but collectively they are being punished and it is important to keep in mind they got YouTube as a company to where they are today but now the company to now give front page treatment to late nigh show clips and major label music videos.
YouTube is certainly a private company and they are responsible to their audience needs over their creators preferences. However, it is hard to see this crack down as something besides preferential treatment to the establishment: ‘Since YouTube is a free enterprise, they’ve told the public that they’re able to choose which videos pop-up in the Recommended Category or not. Algorithms dictate if your content is worthy of appearing in these specific categories. For better or worse, YouTube believes in curating what they deem to be the highest quality.’ (Will The New YouTube Algorithm Impact Your Content? 2019) The reality is a small group of people determine what is high quality video instead of a recommendation that that would come naturally relating back to a subscriber’s watch history. If high profile pressure can affect YouTube’s policy then perhaps a way to reverse the policy would be for a mass movement to vocally state that the current course is unacceptable.
- Wu, Jinqiao. ‘YouTube new algorithm shows side effects that punish some of its creators.’ Mobile Syrup August 1, 2019 mobilesyrup.com https://mobilesyrup.com/2019/08/01/youtube-new-algorithm-creator-punishment/
- Alexander, Julia ‘The Golden Age of YouTube is Over.’ The Verge April 5, 2019 theverge.com https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/5/18287318/youtube-logan-paul-pewdiepie-demonetization-adpocalypse-premium-influencers-creators
- (no attributed author) ‘Will The New YouTube Algorithm Impact Your Content?’ Savy September 11, 2019 savyagency.com https://savyagency.com/new-youtube-algorithm/