If you want to get rich quick with YouTube, invest in Google stock! Many think I jest, but with the recent changes to the requirements for their Partner and Preferred Partner Programs severely affecting small to mid level creators, Google stock may actually be your best option if you’re looking to make money with YouTube. Here’s why.
In April 2017, after the Adpocalypse, many YouTubers were hit with the new requirement of having 10,000 lifetime views in order to participate in AdSense as well as other partner perks. In the fall, many creators were in the queue waiting to be re-monetized after finally hitting the 10,000 mark. They waited and waited, many for three or four months, until January when YouTube announced their new requirements for creators to participate in the Partner Program. Now, creators will need 1000 channel subscribers and 4000 hours (which equates to 240,000 minutes ) of viewing time within the past year in order to participate in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Additionally, YouTube says that, “Any channel previously part of YPP that no longer meets the YPP eligibility requirement will not be able to monetize, including sponsorships and Super Chat.” This change suggests that it would probably take at least a year for any new creators to see any type of compensation from YouTube.
Another requirement that many creators fear is the burden of maintaining their 1000 subscribers and 4000 hour per year watch time, since YouTube will be monitoring this every month to ensure that creators continue to meet their “high standards.” YouTube has tried to reassure creators by saying, “You won’t lose monetization just because you drop below the threshold for a short period of time. YouTube does however reserve the right, at its discretion, to remove monetization from channels who drop below the new threshold if the channel is inactive and not uploading or posting for 6 months or more.” Of course what has creators concerned is the language in that statement saying that YouTube “reserves the right, at its discretion.” The fact that YouTube has changed creator requirements twice within a one year period does not leave creators feeling very confident.
A Case of the Haves and Have Nots
YouTube claims that, “This update allows us to protect the creator community from spammers, impersonators and other bad actors who hurt our ecosystem or take advantage of creators, while continuing to reward those who make our platform great.” But what this really translates to is more money for top tier, Preferred Partner creators who already have many advantages over their program-only counterparts.
YouTube claims that these new changes won’t affect most since “99% of all [demonetized] YouTube creators earn less than $100 a year” which equates to approximately $2.50 a video. Dan Currier, who has multiple channels including the Average Dan, suggests these numbers are way off. Before the recent changes, Dan said he earned significantly more than this per video, but he has less than 1000 subscribers for some of his channels. Additionally, Dan pointed out that even $2.50 a video could provide an emotional uplift for some creators.
Some creators are in a similar boat. They suggest that YouTube should be looking at the profitability of channels as opposed to these new, random requirements. However, this is not case. 95% of all creators are at the whims of YouTube’s “family-friendly” AI bots who just aren’t that smart or for that matter friendly. Often, they will improperly categorize and demonetize a video based on YouTube’s algorithms, and since the initial implementation of the algorithms, many creators have questioned how the top 5% of creators could publish content that the AI bots prohibit for the remaining 95%. YouTube just announced that they will be subjecting all content in their Preferred Partner Program to human review. Is this because, recently, the algorithms couldn’t recognize a dead body in Logan Paul’s video?
So What is YouTube Really Trying to Accomplish?
Many have questioned if this isn’t all a ploy by YouTube to clean house. Others think it’s a way for YouTube to continue to increase their profits by taking advantage of smaller and now also mid-level creators. In a statement released in 2016 by the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, she noted that although YouTube has been around for over a decade, they are still in investment mode, claiming that profitability is not the focus; additionally, they have no timetable suggesting when that might happen. I suppose when Google is your parent company, little things like profitability may not be important; however, for all the creators out there who are being demonetized, profitability is one of their biggest concerns.
Many critics also note that YouTube has limited what can be included on cards, with changes geared toward affecting small to mid-level channels that also rely on platforms such as Patreon. However, YouTube claims that, “Access to many features like cards, end screens, or custom thumbnails doesn’t depend on YPP and won’t be impacted… previously, you were required to be a YPP to link to external websites from cards and end screens, but we’ve changed that. If you’re using this feature already, you’ll be able to continue using it in the future, even if you’re no longer part of YPP.”
In light of these critiques and more, YouTube has tried to console creators by pushing their YouTube Creator Academy, claiming it will help creators meet the new requirements. However, many mid-level creators dismiss this, claiming the push is insulting.
For contrast, we can look to Patreon’s response to user concerns over changes to that platform. On December 7, 2017, Patreon introduced a new $0.35 fee for Patrons in addition to a charge of 2.9% of the amount pledged. This severely affected smaller creators. Less than a week later, Patreon’s CEO apologized and said the new fee would not be implemented. While many creators hope this might happen for them with YouTube, this is likely wishful thinking.
Many pundits suggest that YouTube might lose much of its current content if disruption from a competitor occurs, especially one offering access to a bigger audience and better compensation. This indeed could happen with AmazonTube. Will it soon be YouTube’s biggest rival? Only time will tell. Either way, small to mid-level creators will really need to explore alternative revenue streams if they’re looking for compensation or monetary support.