John Battelle (founder of Federated Media) recently posted a very accurate and somewhat scathing rant about YouTube’s deals with content creators at his website, Searchblog. The author of the rant (it isn’t Batelle, he posted it anonymously) addresses a sort of hierarchy in content on YouTube:
Right now YouTube has a three tiered system, the top, or big media, the middle, indie content creators with audiences, and the bottom, random user submissions that get small numbers of views.
A system like this is inevitable: people group by nature, so something like this should be expected. However our ranter doesn’t like the groups that YouTube chooses to support:
And the big question for everyone was how are you going to make money? Well, we certainly were not making any green from YouTube. And until the last three months, they weren’t publicly promising any cash to anyone. So what were we supposed to do? Just pray really hard that YouTube would someday pay us? That’s sorta irresponsible. So we did what anyone would do, we started evaluating the opportunities that presented themselves and then took advantage of some of them.
Many video creators like Ze Frank and Amanda Congdon use alternate hosts for this very reason – no guarantee of financial success. Ze pioneered a micro-sponsorship system called Gimme Some Candy (which he should have spun off, more on that later) to help fund his blog, along with using the post-roll ad based Revver to host his videos. The video creators in the rant (I won’t divulge names, but I have a darn good idea of who they are) have taken a similar route. In fact, they now say
…when YouTube finally got its act together and offered us an advertising split, it was too low an offer. We were doing better without them. And with less strings.
There are plenty of alternatives to YouTube. I noted Revver above, but there are dozens of other video sites available. (I’ll start compiling them tonight, further details as I get them.) You can also host yourself, and we briefly covered this in this YouMakeMedia article. You can’t just drop out of YouTube, unfortunately. It has a massive reach. But you can alter your content. Post thirty second teasers, or short clips of your videos. Maybe even dual post – have video on YouTube for that crowd and video on your website from another source, or vice versa.
YouTube has helped new media in unparalleled ways – that is undisputable. Unfortunately, they have taken way too long to help content creators monetise, further impacting their chance of staying in the game for the long term. As I see it, YouTube is a bridge to more sustainable video sharing tools unless they make some rapid changes in their policy and technology.