Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What the Traditional Entertainment Industry Get About YouTubers (and what YouTubers should do about it)

The disconnect between the entertainment industry and the enormous talent pool on YouTube remains - and it doesn't show any signs of lessening any time soon.    While some online content creators may feel frustrated at their attempts to connect with the multi-billion dollar industry, the reality just may be that their greatest opportunities may be right where they started - online.  Even as the Hollywood community begins to understand that the future of entertainment is online, there remains among many in that world a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature of this new genre.

Recently, YouTube began to introduce funded, sponsored channels as a new generation answer to traditional television.  Some channels are, in fact, created by established YouTubers - others are sponsored by traditional media companies, publications or programs.  Most, though, are falling into the traditional media trap, failing to recognize that the appeal of content created by YouTubers isn't simply programming - it's the personal connection the viewer maintains with the content creator.   

Even moderately successful YouTubers spend a great deal of their time maintaining that connection with the audience - responding to channel comments, updating across social media and responding to feedback.   Top YouTubers, whose weekly views may number in the millions, wtih comments in the tens of thousands, still focus on innovative ways to create an interactive environment.

Traditional entertainment - motion pictures and television - emphasize the creation and marketing of a finite product.  The nature of even the simplest television program is that it's a team effort.  While industry power brokers are beginning to recognize the value of this emerging talent pool, they may not be certain why they're valuable.

In the history of motion pictures, the "auteur" is celebrated as the director with ultimate creative control, whose imprint is unmistakeable throughout the production. puts it simply:  A filmmaker, usually a director, who exercises creative control over his or her works and has a strong personal style.    Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick are classic examples.  Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Milk, Elephant), Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) and Lindsey Anderson (The Royal Tannenbaums) are more contemporary examples.

With the trend toward high quality, low cost production and post-production equipment, every YouTube content creator has the potential to be an auteur (though, like motion pictures, not always the talent).   With the individual or small team, and lack of studio gatekeepers that once dashed the dreams of thousands, today's visionaries don't have to beg for the chance to express themselves.  

Even more than their motion picture predecessors, online content creators also have the opportunity to directly engage their audience.  Their power to influence is only just emerging.  As the content creation community continues to grow, develop and learn, that power will only increase.

Rather than knocking on the old, worn traditional media door, it might be more productive, in the long run, for quality YouTubers (or online content creators in general) to also sharpen their entrepreneurial skills.  The opportunity to succeed isn't limited to the tried and true (i.e. promoting and networking within the YouTube universe) - it lies in reaching the millions - and billions - who don't yet know that "YouTubers" exist.

What do you think?  Who are the Entrepreneurs on YouTube?


  1. Much has been said about the divide between professional and amateur, but what I appreciate is that you're also keeping a focus on the divide between content and conversation.

    It may, in the end, be the bigger gap.

  2. Gap? Opportunity? Only time will tell......