YouTube has been a boon for all kinds of illusionists, from big names to local magicians looking to score their next gig. Magicians young and old are using the video platform to upload their work and build their portfolio, to learn how to perform a variety of tricks, or to teach others to do the same. Many even use YouTube as a source of income, making enough money off their videos to turn magic into a full-time career. But thanks to a recent slate of changes made to how creators can make money in the wake of building controversy, the future of magic on the platform remains in jeopardy, especially when it comes to smaller, lesser-known channels trying to build an audience.
A little background: In order to make money on YouTube with your content, creators have to be a part of YouTube’s Partner Program, which allows them to receive a portion of the revenue generated by the advertisements shown before your videos. As of April 2017, qualification for the program only required 10,000 lifetime views on your channel’s videos. As of today, eligibility requirements have changed to “4,000 hours of watchtime within the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers”, according to YouTube’s Creator Blog. Creators who are already a part of this program will have 30 days to meet the requirements before they are removed. Additionally, according to Google’s Advertiser Blog, the company will be manually reviewing all of the videos included as part of its “Google Preferred” program, so “it not only offers the most popular content on YouTube, but also the most vetted.”
The reason behind this change is, as described by YouTube, “so spammers, impersonators, and other bad actors can’t hurt [YouTube’s] ecosystem or take advantage of [creators], while continuing to reward those who make our platform great.” The idea is to make it harder for these “bad actors” to suck up all the ad revenue from people with legitimate channels, which sounds like a great idea in theory, but this blanket change also ends up hurting those up-and-coming performers who are simply trying to make a name for themselves.
These changes also don’t address the problems creators have had with YouTube’s dodgy monetization algorithms. We interviewed illusionist Steven Bridges a few months ago, and he and many other magicians are still having problems with perfectly innocent videos getting flagged as inappropriate by the platform, thus losing whatever money and reach those videos could have earned.
There’s no doubt that many smaller channels currently grifting the system will deserve the lack of monetization caused by the changes to the Partner Program. But in the process, so many less-renowned magicians struggling to break into the scene are going to be negatively affected by these changes, and it’s only going to continue to drive people away.
We have reached out to YouTube for additional comment, and will update this post with their response when we hear back.
If you are a magician who has been impacted by YouTube’s most recent wave of demonetization and want to tell us your story, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When reached for comment, a spokesperson from YouTube gave us this statement:
Our recent changes to the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) are designed to curb bad actors, stabilize creator revenue and provide greater assurances to advertisers around where their ads are placed. By making these updates to YPP, we aim to help creators of all sizes find more success. We have many free resources in place such as our Creator Academy and YouTube Spaces to help those just starting out build a community around their channel so that they can ramp-up fast and monetize their videos.