I started my YouTube channel in its present form in the summer of 2010. I’d been watching a couple of channels consistently for about a year and by the time I entered college I was hooked. I created videos ranging from vlogs about Valentine’s Day to sketches about roommates. YouTube’s tagline was “Broadcast Yourself”, and I was all in.
At the time one of the biggest achievements on YouTube was being a member of the Partner Program. This program allowed a creator to earn money off the advertisements shown by or in their videos. From 2007 to 2012 (when the Partner Program was opened to everyone) being a partner was coveted. You knew you were making moves when you were granted that status. That’s what being a partner meant, it meant status, it was worth in the eyes of YouTube and the larger internet community.
Nearly 30 videos and one year later, I was given that status. Suddenly I felt my place in the YouTube world take shape. I was making friends, I had attended my first conference, and now, thanks to Partnership, I was making money. Receiving Partnership was like being given a compass – it gave a creator direction; it gave a larger purpose to the content you uploaded. One of my fondest memories on YouTube is the day I became a Partner. I was overjoyed, and it drove me to make more and better content.
Partnership dreams for thousands of creators ended today with YouTube’s announcement of the end of new monetization requirements:
Starting today we’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you. They will allow us to significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community and help drive more ad revenue to them (and away from bad actors). These higher standards will also help us prevent potentially inappropriate videos from monetizing which can hurt revenue for everyone. (https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2018/01/additional-changes-to-youtube-partner.html)
If you haven’t reached a 1,000 subscribers or 4,000 hours (not minutes, hours) of watchtime you cannot become a partner. And not only that, if you are currently monetized and you haven’t reached either of those metrics by February you will be demonetized.
Within the past year on YouTube I did not come close to reaching 4,000 hours of watchtime.
So just like that, after 7 YEARS OF BEING A PARTNER, I’m stripped of that title. Just like that. Granted, being a partner nowadays means pretty much nothing, but I would guess that for a lot of pre-2012 creators losing Partnership has a lot of significance. It’s hard for me to describe how upsetting this is to me. It’s like if someone took the last reminder of a dead friend and burned it right in front of my eyes. Other than my friends and the videos I made, the YouTube that made me love YouTube is gone.
Let me be quite clear and say I have NEVER made money on YouTube. I’ve gotten one check from YouTube. One. My problem with this new policy by YouTube doesn’t have to do with the money, not really. Yes, I believe creators should be paid for driving viewers to YouTube (and thus ad views), and yes creators should see rewards for their hard work. What I’m most incensed about is the disrespect, the dignity it’s stripping from creators. This is YouTube’s way of saying, “You all there at the bottom, go away, we don’t care about you.”
This policy is just another fundamental changes YouTube is choosing in order to reshape its business and push the platform into a future based on Hollywood structures and platforms like Hulu and Netflix. The future won’t be about organic creators and content – the creators and content that built YouTube.
I’ve tried to stay away from the past when it comes to talking about this platform. I’ll give my success rate a solid 60 percent. We’re humans, we love nostalgia and YouTube brings it out of people in full force. I’ll admit my bitterness towards the platform is shaped by those memories of the past. YouTube is special because of its medium, it’s a social platform gone way beyond that of Facebook or Twitter, and that specialness created an ethos shared by creators that is not easily shook. But the company has abandoned that ethos, and the creators are left with no closure and no explanations, just anger and bitterness.
So we grin and bear it. As each new policy or update comes we hoot and holler and carry on always thinking, “Well maybe next time… ” but we’re slowing approaching a new YouTube so far beyond where we started. It’s sad, but it’s been a long time coming.