Money-making potential forces YouTubers to be more professional

Ria Parikh | Staff Writer

They’ll do anything for the views.

Over the past few years, YouTube has evolved to a become a more professional platform in which creators can make videos and make a name for themselves from their living room. But recently, creators and viewers have experienced a shift in YouTube. Sophomore Judi Hu makes videos for her YouTube channel, and she said the platform has become more professional and she has noticed more emphasis on the monetary aspect.

“Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that there’s been a significant growth in monetizing videos and putting ads in videos,” Hu said. “(There has been an increase) in clickbait and making thumbnails really attractive. Even though it’s always been a hobby, it’s gone from something that is more casual and where you use a webcam to film to using very high technology.”

Freshman Ethan Pellegrini makes YouTube videos as well and said the fact that YouTubers can make a lot of money from creating videos has its benefits as well as its downsides. Pellegrini said that while it increases drive and motivation in creators, it also causes them to feel an obligation to play a character online.

“I play a whole other person that who I actually am,” Pellegrini said. “It works. That’s what a lot of people do. I do it to provide entertainment, but the bad part is that people buy into it and think it’s real. You have to look at a video from a creator and take it with a grain of salt.”

In order to make more money, YouTube announced in 2014 that they have launched YouTube Red, which is their first ever paid subscription. On this platform, creators can make longer, more professional videos that can potentially be comparable to mainstream television.

Senior Nick Fisher said although he does not use YouTube Red, he thinks that it is something beneficial to support YouTubers who want to create more mainstream content.

“I personally don’t use YouTube Red,” Fisher said. “I’ve never really used it. The only good thing about it is that you can watch YouTube videos while keeping your phone closed. But otherwise, it’s like another creative outlet for (content creators) to (make content), and if people want to support a YouTuber of their choice, it’s allowing them to support them in that way and on a bigger scale.”

A few months ago, YouTube released a quota saying creators were not allowed to make money if they had not surpassed 10,000 views on their channel. Hu said this quota is beneficial because it ensures that people are joining the platform the right reasons and that YouTube will benefit from the videos.

“Them having a minimum of 10,000 is pretty good because they want to make money too from your videos, even though they probably make money even if you have very little views,” Hu said. “If you see a really small YouTuber with 10 subscribers or something or with one or two views and you see them monetizing their videos, then it’s a clear remark they are just trying to earn money. So from my point of view, it’s probably a beneficial thing.”

Pellegrini said it is beneficial in making people accountable for the effort they put into their channel, but it can cause people to become obsessed views and obtain them in unfair ways.

“The good part is, if every single human made money off of YouTube, they would all just do it for the money,” Pellegrini said. “This is something they had to work for, and if they set a goal to do it, then props to them, but then it’s bad because it causes people to pay money to get views. YouTube hasn’t really found that algorithm to catch every single thing. People pay something like $100 for 100,000 views.”

YouTubers have used strategies like ‘clickbaiting’ to increase the views on their channel, which increases their salaries. While not a new thing, clickbait has recently taken flight views have moved to the forefront of many YouTubers’ minds. This means that a creator will essentially title their video something untrue that they know will spark the attention of their subscribers, which increases the amount of views they get on that video. Fisher said that while effective, clickbaiting makes YouTubers seem dishonest to their audience.

“Someone will be like ‘A Q&A exposing my personal life,’ and then it would just be like, ‘What did you eat for breakfast?’” Fisher said. “It makes me have to sit down and watch the whole video because it makes me actually want to know more things about that, and you’re giving them a unique view which is giving them more money, more ad revenue and things like that. It’s another part of that distrust. ‘Are they really going to talk about this, or is it is just clickbait?’”

Pellegrini said YouTubers feel like they always need to clickbait to keep their audience, but it can degrade other aspects of the YouTube community.

“I think it’s disappointing,” Pellegrini said. “It’s slowly trashing part of the community, and some genuine people who can actually make crazy amazing art to put on their (thumbnails) they will just never do it. While other people are getting to higher and higher (levels), they just stay there because they don’t clickbait.”

Hu said while it is not harder to create content while keeping views in mind, she has found herself second-guessing the content she wants to focus on creating, since making a video that hit a significantly high amount of views for her channel.

“When I got the big view count, I was (debating) turning the channel into more of a DIY dance costumes channel, rather an a beauty channel, because my beauty videos don’t get many views,” Hu said. “So I was like, ‘Maybe if I switch to that path, I might get more subscribers, and I might get more views. But then again, I just want to make content that I like.”

Last month, YouTube released YouTube Rewind 2017 which is a recap of the year as it pertains to YouTube. Many viewers felt that after watching it, YouTube chose people who would attract views over people who the audience honestly watches to be in the video. Pellegrini agreed and said YouTube should pay more attention to the people who have actually grown on YouTube.

“Half of the people on there didn’t come up from YouTube,” Pellegrino said. “They came up from Vine, then (when) Vine shut down, they went to Instagram, and then YouTube as the only other way they can make money. They should shoot for people who have started on YouTube and grown through YouTube because that makes them more a part of the community.”

Pellegrini said this decision represented a shift in focus of the platform.

“I think it says that the business is very money oriented,” Pellegrini said. “They want money, and they’re going to do whatever it takes to step up, go against their competitors, and they need money to do that. They are going to do whatever it takes to get as much money as possible to build their business.”

Despite this, Pellegrini said the growing business side of YouTube causes them to be more open and honest with their audience.

“The other day, they posted that they were trying really hard to fix everything,” Pellegrini said. “This is the first time in a while that they spoke openly about what they are doing. Usually, when they do talks, they are very censored, they don’t say what they’re doing, they keep it on the downlow.”

Sensing a trend, Fisher predicts that major YouTube stars will fall victim to the accumulation of views and money, just like they did on Vine, a popular app that shut down.

“It’s kind of like how Vine was,” Fisher said. “Vine started out very pure, and it was just funny moments, and then it kind of turned into an industry. I think that’s what scripted things and killed the app and made it go downhill. I think that’s where the big, mainstream YouTubers are headed right now. But there are still a ton of smaller, more newer to platform YouTubers that are awesome and they keep that spirit of original YouTube alive.”