Friday, November 3, 2017

The Industry of YouTube: A 2017 Snapshot

Going back to the earliest days of this blog, now close to 5 years ago, I have been fascinated by the new opportunities for creators to go direct to fan, using what has become for most people everyday networked technologies. Instead of going the institutional route of music labels, book publishers, and movie studios, open platforms have been made available for the publishing and distribution of music, video, writing, and even the funding of projects, by people you may not even know. What this means is that there's more than one way to get from A to B, and more than one definition of success.

And what we've seen is thousands of micro-celebrities born on platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud, Instagram, Wattpad, and Vine (remember Vine?) At the same time, the initial wide-eyed optimism for a brave new world of a disintermediated entertainment industry has been replaced for some with a jaundiced view of an internet ecosystem made up of a small handful of overlords calling the shots.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Not exactly. There are those who have finessed the new system, often through trial and error, and built careers for themselves that otherwise could not have existed. And still others who have adapted to today’s world of content abundance vs. yesterday’s world of content scarcity, figuring out how to make money when most people want most things for free most of the time. You might think of these folks as 'Who-Tubers' (did I coin that?), celebrities of the small screen of no great consequence, but then the joke would be on you, because they're carving out a new version of a career path in the media and entertainment industries.

But how? As with much of what happens online, what often starts out as a crazy idea (e.g. strangers sleeping in your home when you're not there) can turn into a bona fide industry. And this is what has happened in the case of YouTube and the millions regularly uploading to the site, of which a small percentage become the media professionals of a parallel world.

To learn about the state of YouTubing, from the points of view of both creators and the advertisers that make the flow of money into their bank accounts possible, I headed to the 5th annual Buffer Festival, an international get together of the YouTube community held each fall in Toronto.

Another lanyard for the collection
A very organized industry event

I filed two stories from Buffer Festival 2017, and if you got this far into the post you may be interested in having a look at them:

Tube Life: How YouTube Creators Make a Living in an Increasingly Crowded Space

What Brands and Advertisers Have Learned from YouTubers

                             
An assortment of YouTubers breaking it down at Buffer Festival 2017