Famous celebrities joining YouTube hurts small creators — and YouTube knows it.
“Wait… That can’t be the real Jack Black making a gaming channel, right?” I assure you, fellow lover of YouTube, it’s absolutely real. Under 2 minutes of content, over 2 million subs. World-renowned celebrities and networks are popping up all over YouTube. This trend plays perfectly into YouTube’s corporate evolution while raising concerns from users.
When YouTube Rewind opens with Will Smith or Stephen Colbert, it’s hard to deny that YouTube is deviating from itself. Small content creators are already seeing this shift affect their channels and the site as a whole.
So far, it’s not for the better.
Impact on new and small YouTubers
Being a YouTube Creator in the midst of all this is disheartening. How can I put this… Imagine you’re in a cozy writing club where everyone gets to share poetry with one another; then Shakespeare himself kicks down the door, takes out a mic, screams into it at full-volume and a stampede of fans tramples everyone in sight. The librarian then shuts down the funding for your club and pockets the cash. She assures you, “You can keep sharing your poetry — you just have to work harder.” But no matter how hard you try or how much work you put in, no one can hear you anymore.
Now, I know that scenario is a little far-fetched. Librarians would never allow so much noise. YouTube, on the other hand, has no such qualms.
The problem isn’t just feeling discouraged, though: it’s the algorithm. Celebrity channels instantly gaining tons of subs adjusts the curve for everyone. This makes it near-impossible for new channels to be found without being specifically sought out, stifling newtubers.
Major celebrities like Jack Black, Will Smith and The Rock are now posting content to YouTube, as are TV networks like SNL and The Late Show. So why are they coming here? Maybe individual celebrities are trying to stay relevant. Wanting down-to-earth relationships with fans could be a great thing! YouTube offers them a way to connect with fans that sites like Twitter do not. When it’s a means for a corporation to conquer yet another corner of the market, though, it becomes problematic. This marks a significant change for YouTube as we know it and a sharp decline in consideration for how it harms its users.
As a medium, YouTube revolutionized the dynamic of performer and audience, while making content creation authentic and accessible. Creators and viewers exist with each other. The idea of an environment to encourage creation continues to motivate people from across the globe to support one another in doing what they love.
YouTube was a place for performer and audience to exist and create together.
Those ambitious beginnings are still a major appeal to this day, but the platform is far from what it was. Now, YouTube has begun to resemble the exact media it sought to subvert. As the company grows, its priorities shift.
YouTubers, Celebrities, and YouTube Celebrities
The line between YouTuber and the word “celebrity” has been blurring for a long, long time now. A lot of good has come of this — the site finally has a more respected status than ‘dumb cat videos’ — but some effects are questionable. Unfortunately, the consequences punish the people YouTube originally wanted to give a voice: small creators.
Celebrity and corporate invasion is damaging the people YouTube originally sought to give a voice: small creators.
As a result, YouTube has become incentivized to neglect its user base and discourage small or new creators. Now the same sort of people who made YouTube unique are being at best overlooked, at worst intentionally obstructed. YouTube remodeled the algorithm, demonetized the vast majority, flooded the trending tab with music videos and news networks, etc. All this is severely warping the community.
YouTube has become incentivized to neglect and discourage new creators.
Will YouTube be taken over by mainstream celebrities and media?
We can’t know what’s going to happen in the long run. I’ll admit I get a tinge of regret seeing tight-knit communities become more and more detached. I want to regain that feeling of possibility, but we’re not doomed. We can always work to stay aware, educated and optimistic. We’re the ones who’ll keep the spirit of YouTube alive. It’s up to us to support and encourage each other to keep creating. There are still tons of positive, kind, inspiring places on YouTube, and I don’t think anything will change that.
Who knows? Ideally, they’ll find a way to encourage the community without stunting the website. For example, making a section for celebrities akin YouTube Kids, or a discover tab so small channels can still be found. At the moment, though, the platform just seems to be chasing money. Let’s just hope YouTube will use the profits from mainstream infiltration for the better. YouTube’s priority should always be the heart of the platform: anyone who loves to create.