Around the same time that companies like Nike and Sony began to realize the potential that online creators held for them, a group of established personalities came together to create a guild to protect the financial and personal interests of the creators. Three years later, that group, the Internet Creators Guild (ICG), is closing.
The ICG started as a personal project from Hank Green, one of YouTube & # 39; s most respected and admired creators, to set up a centralized organization for people working online. The guild was to train video makers, protect their interests and help them to be successful on platforms that constantly changed their monetization methods. "There is no system to protect video makers, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let alone in the notoriously exhausting entertainment industry." Green wrote at the time.
But the membership of $ 60 a year and union-friendly language never really stood out. The guild never revealed membership numbers and it was difficult to arouse interest among the people it had to represent.
"Makers with a large audience often do not need the support of a collective voice," wrote the board of the ICG a statement the announcement of the closure. "We believe that these attitudes will change as our community faces new challenges. The antitrust sense is growing in the US and Article 13 is now threatening the basis of digital creativity in Europe."
The board said that support "has fallen to the point that we cannot actively maintain our work," and that it has limited their ability to recruit new members.
Despite the shutdown, the concerns of the ICG are even better years later. The guild continues to be concerned about networks and studios that use illegal copyright claims to destroy "huge amounts of content", record companies allegedly carrying 70 percent of every dollar spent on YouTube Premium subscriptions, and brands that require video makers hide how much they have been paid for sponsorship, making it harder for everyone to be paid fairly. (The edge contacted YouTube for comments, but the company did not respond to publication time.)
The guild also found it difficult to gather individuals across different continents, Anthony D & Angelo, the former guild's executive director, said The edge. Unlike labor movements that are currently taking place in areas such as digital media and the technical sector, video makers are usually isolated. Not having the same kind of companionship influenced the organization's attempt to fight for a safer front. While the battles of traditional unions produce immediate physical results (such as obliging actors to have a membership card before stepping on certain sets), online media do not.
"It's considered an inconvenience to them, rather than this amazing power," said D & # 39; Angelo. "The arrangement of the space makes it more difficult to bring everyone together because they are not all on the floor."
Prominent YouTube video makers also found that the guild did not do enough to help video makers. Multiple YouTube video makers such as Lindsay Ellis and PhilosophyTube (who are often considered part of left-wing YouTube called "BreadTube") have specifically mentioned the lack of movement at the end of the ICG to actually help makers, rather than just the raise awareness of the problems they face.
"One thing that liberal groups tend to forget much is accountability; accountability to the people you're trying to help," Philosophy Tube said in a video on the subject. "Not only in the sense that they can write you and give you feedback in a Slack group, but in the sense that you give them the power to control the movement and say: & # 39; We're going to use these tactics and do this. & # 39; "
Those concerns were heard by the ICG, D & Angelo said. He does not disagree, but he argued that the concerns of Ellis and others did not explain why the ICG failed. The reasons were more "nuanced, complex and internal." Part of that was incredibly low membership – numbers that D & # 39; Angelo refused to share with The edge. But the main reason was to convince YouTube video makers that in a constantly changing industry where nothing was certain, merging an organization was necessary. It is hard to see the value of something if its existence seems short-lived.
"Only if they realize they have something to lose here will they be motivated to unite," said D & # 39; Angelo. "Because space is so atomized, it's hard to build that awareness and that solidarity."
The fight is not over yet. The ICG may be gone, but D & # 39; Angelo is already starting to think about what the future offers when it comes to protecting YouTube video makers. Early rumble of conversations that took place with other guilds, including the screen actor guild, SAG-AFTRA, have begun. (The edge has contacted SAG-AFTRA for comment.) People are migrating faster online and developing more full-time jobs that only exist on the internet. They have to be protected, said D & Angelo, and just because the ICG is closing its store does not mean that the fight ends here.
"The space needs health care. It needs fair contracts," said D & # 39; Angelo. "I am convinced that collective action is the only way to achieve those goals. There are many obstacles to translating that imagined community into something that can change the world. Only if that conversation gets underway and people realize: & # 39; We need to do something about this & # 39; based on a common material interest, that is the key to actually mobilizing. & # 39;