When YouTube wanted to punish political pundit Steven Crowder in a widespread turmoil about his homophobic comments, the first step was to disable Crowder's ability to run ads in his videos. The punishment was meant to withdraw an important source of income and to give Crowder a strong motivation to change his behavior. But Crowder didn't care, "This really isn't that important to us," he said.
Crowder sells T-shirts, hats, stickers and subscriptions for more videos via his website, on which he has indicated that the most money comes from his channel. Selling merchandise and subscriptions through other platforms is not only a way for video makers to earn more money, it is also a way for video makers to isolate themselves from YouTube's ever-commercial rules and algorithms. And it means that if a creator's ads are cut off for any reason, they still generate revenue.
Video makers have realized that "YouTube can do whatever they want," said Wyatt Jenkins, VP or Patreon's product, The edge. That is why they started looking for ways to establish other relationships with their viewers. "They say:" If I want to put an end to this and do this for a living, I would probably have my best fans in my world. "
If you remove the ability of a channel to run ads, it's supposed to send a message that punishes YouTube creators who are seriously out of step. Company so much mentioned in a blog from June 5, reiterating that channels that are refreshed repeatedly "are suspended from our YouTube partner program against our hate speech policy, which means that they cannot display ads on their channel." Makers will also not be able to use alternative techniques for generating revenue, such as Super Chat or channel memberships, according to YouTube.
For emerging YouTubers who depend on that income, this can cause a huge problem. Many people just go to the YouTube partner program, a threshold that indicates that a maker can earn ad revenue can count on that ad money at the start of his career. Channels that face daily income generation problems, one of the biggest problems within the community, struggle to understand what works and what doesn't. But for larger video makers, who still retain their ability to reach a large number of subscribers, the punishment does not necessarily accomplish the goals of YouTube.
Well-established makers – such as Crowder, which reaches more than 4 million people – often have a large audience ready to buy products, significantly reducing the severity of punishment. When YouTube popped on firearm videos & # 39; s last year and removed ads from a number of channels, many of those channels circumvented the impact by concluding sponsor contracts or starting Patreon accounts so that they could continue to do exactly what they had done before.
YouTube probably also does not prohibit high-profile channels. If the content of a channel is boundary, meaning that it does not violate YouTube's rules but is considered harmful, moderators can leave videos & # 39; s. If you demonstrate the video & # 39; s of a channel, it seems that YouTube has taken a powerful action, even if that action is not always effective.
It's just difficult based on advertising revenue, said Felix & # 39; PewDiePie & # 39; Kjellberg in a video about YouTube ads last year. "It's inefficient, it's unstable and an unsafe revenue model," according to the biggest creator of YouTube. Most YouTube video makers are not concerned with advertising revenue, Kjellberg said.
Merchandise and subscription services on third-party websites are the key to a full-time YouTube maker in 2019. Major YouTube stars, including Jake Paul, James Charles, Emma Chamberlain, and David Dobrik whole secondary companies have been set up for the sale of merchandise.
Some makers, such as Dobrik, have invested heavily in making a merchandise production line so that they could continue to publish edgy images that can make advertisers uncomfortable. Others simply worried about another & # 39; adpocalypse & # 39 ;, a term used in the community to tell advertisers to stop spending on YouTube after controversial events. Dobrik & # 39; s merch line has been so successful that one two-day pop-up store in the Tribeca district of New York both days were sold out earlier this year.
Changes to YouTube's advertising policy have forced video makers to find new revenue-generating methods in recent years, making YouTube & # 39; s threat to remove ads even less a punishment. Carlos Maza, the Vox host who targeted Crowder with homophobic comments, pointed out that YouTube's punishment does not stop Crowder from using his YouTube channel as a way to sell products and expand his audience. (The edge is part of Vox Media, which also owns Vox.)
"YouTube gave greats greats to mock LGBT people and people of color, and continues to help those perpetrators by finding them new followers to sell merch to," Maza tweeted on 8 June. "It is not negligent, it actively helps with the spread of intolerance."
Crowder is well aware of this dynamic. He is praised for a large increase in membership subscriptions since the incident with Maza started, and said Maza "sold more mosquito club memberships than anyone in the company's history."
"Demonizing does not work," Maza tweeted after YouTube & # 39; s decision. "Abusers use it as proof that they are being" discriminated against. "Then they earn millions of discounts on selling merchandise, doing speaking evenings and getting their followers to support them on Patreon. Advertising revenue is not the problem. It is the platform. "
Patreon has become a center for video makers who want to spread their income. Video makers such as Philip DeFranco, a popular YouTube commentator, and Kinda Funny, a collective of gaming enthusiasts and comedians, earn an estimated extra $ 50,000 a month on Patreon. They also retain 90 percent of that income, while Patreon lowers 10 percent. This is more than the 60/40 cut makers get on YouTube.
But access to a powerful tool like Patreon means that makers must adhere to the company's strong policies. Said Jenkins The edge that unlike competitors such as YouTube, Patreon does not believe in allowing its members to sell something they like under the guise of & # 39; free speech & # 39 ;. The result is "losing some people who are in that free-opinion group," Jenkins said, but that is a decision that the company took some time ago and to which it has remained.
"When a creator crosses the line in excluding people from admonishing, as I would claim that Jordan Peterson or someone else, they cross the border, "said Jenkins." That is the border that we have created. There are a number of people who are no longer on Patreon for that reason. & # 39;
Patreon's activities have continued to grow steadily in recent years, even though we adopt a determined attitude to moderation. Patreon has banned video makers who use his services from selling products or creating content that is harmful or hateful. For those who can work within the guidelines of the company, it gives them financial freedom that makes YouTube demonstration practically unusable.
Ads are still the core of revenue generation for most YouTubers and it is clear that the company is still withdrawing advertising privileges as a form of moderation. But Crowder's response to the situation shows that demonization is not the same as moderation, especially for the biggest makers on the platform.