Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Talent in the Age of Social Media

[Accompanies a Vlog of the same name,]

At lunch yesterday, i was describing to a couple of friends the evolving social media landscape of the YouTube community, as contrasted with the general perception outside the community, and the ways in which of the most successful YouTubers are earning an income in that arena.  We discussed the state of the  current programming - which is, technically speaking, very creative but still fairly primitive as compared to television and motion pictures.  To some extent, that's part of the characteristic of this world - the availability of cameras and editing technology that allows virtually anyone to create and build a following.  Generally speaking, what an audience freely accepts on YouTube would be rejected in other platforms. In much the same way, a great television program wouldn't necessarily be considered a quality motion picture.

The discussion turned to the staying power of the top YouTube personalities - or any of the partners that have reached the minimal following necessary to qualify for that profit sharing arrangement.  With YouTube still being in its early childhood phase at five years old, it's an intriguing question to ask about the fate of popular YouTubers in a few short years.   Will they evolve with their audience and build upon their initial success?  Will they have the ability to maintain a following by keeping their channels creative and continue to provide features that make their channels successful?  Will some YouTubers prove to be fortunate reflections of their time, brief cultural icons of the YouTube community - but ultimately nothing more?

Even by looking at the rising and falling fortunes of popular YouTubers over the last five years, it's still a challenge to consider this world a few years down the line as it matures and brings in an even wider audience.  It's a greater challenge to take into account the young age of some successful YouTubers, as their changing lives and circumstance impact their ability to create relevant contact.

Ultimately, I think, talent will prevail.  Ten years down the line, we'll recognize some legendary talents unique to this platform, while others will exist only in faded memory - if at all.


  1. Speaking as somebody who is rapidly approaching my 4 year anniversary on YouTube & who has posted 640 videos, i don't see any danger of burn out just yet. I accept that, as a vlogger, that is not so likely to happen. After all, there are always topics to talk about & i have many bits of paper & notebooks with ideas in!
    I expect it's far harder for the entertainers. Just as it is for a conventional TV show i guess?
    Maybe us vloggers will still be here after the entertainers have left?

  2. Good point. I do agree that the vloggers will be there long after the entertainers in most cases - it's a more direct form of self expression that perhaps builds a stronger community foundation.

    I don't know if I would characterize most faded entertainment-based YouTube channels as burn-out - I think it can also be a question of limited ability, talent-wise, to continue maintaining relevant content.

  3. I think there's also a couple of distinctions to make here. While some people on YouTube are looking to build on that into traditional fame in movies, tv, recordings, whatever, there's far more who have no desire for traditional fame - only a creative outlet while they enjoy their "regular" civilian lives.