YouTube stars have started a labour guild to represent low paid video producers for sites like YouTube. But it promises to be really, really polite and it won’t be asking Google for more money.
Hank Green is a YouTube video producer, who describes himself as a “Internetainerpreneur” (which is all you need to know, really, but do carry on reading). He explains that his new Internet Creators Guild is needed because being a YouTube sharecropper is now a full time job.
Green reckons 3,000 people earn $2,500 a year from consistently reaching 100,000 viewers a month. (For perspective, Alphabet, YouTube’s owner, earns $533 per second).
“I have watched creators get strong-armed and even swindled. I’ve watched people lose their channels. I’ve watched them flee from abuse,” says Green. But curiously, demanding better pay does not make the the top 10 list of things the Guild wants to do. Nor do many of the usual requests that you’d expect a labour guild to make feature.
Top of the list is “educating journalists” about the wonderfulness of YouTube. Next up is sharing information about MultiChannel Networks, who are Google affiliates, but not Google itself.
“Advise conferences and events (including VidCon) on how to create great conversations about internet creation,” gets in there. As does “Foster diversity”.
And it promises to be jolly nice to everyone. It won’t be “Riling up angry mobs”.
One clue that this might be the most ineffective trade union the world has ever seen is that Green – who shares the vlogbrothers YouTube channel with his sibling – doesn't seem to realise that his creativity is legally protected as property, giving him strong rights he can assert against a distributor. “There is no system for protecting creators, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let alone the notoriously cut-throat entertainment industry,” Green claims.
Perhaps someone could buy him the Ladybird Book of Intellectual Property? It’s just a thought.
Low-paid video creators are expected to be grateful for the pennies that come their way from giant plantations like Google and Facebook, hence the designation “digital sharecropping”. Be grateful for the attention Google gives you. Just don’t ask for a raise. ®