Hank Green, the co-founder and organizer of VidCon, just posted an “open letter” to YouTube on his channel, which is the latest to comment on the issue of control when it comes to YouTube and its community of content creators.
“I wanted to make this video because it feels like there is a little bit of tension — a little more than there has been previously,” says Green in the video. “That tension comes in a lot of different forms, but in most cases I think it boils down to control.” In other words, how YouTube currently has control over the way creators can display content, the design of their channel pages, the relationship with advertisers, and “most importantly,” control over the relationship with their subscribers.
“The most valuable thing an online creator has is the audience,” say Green. On the other hand, YouTube’s greatest asset might be the viewers, but it also might be how the site has access to what Green calls the “most intelligent and creative entertainers in the world right now,” who are creating content for YouTube because they “enjoy it.”
“Your job,” says Green to YouTube, “is to enable that. And then get out of the way.”
“It’s not about bringing TV to the internet,” he continues, comparing it to a radio DJ reading a newspaper on the air at the dawn of radio. “Yes, it’s fine, it’s another way to get the same old content out there,” he says. “But you are completely misinterpreting the power medium if that’s what you think is interesting here.”
The most interesting things, Green says, are those that no one can really predict. Which is why he posted the video. “Trying to guess how to facilitate the creation of the next big thing is always going to fail,” says Green. “What you need to do, absolutely, my advice, please, is just to keep the maximum number of doors open. Trust us, and let us do interesting things with your site.”
Green adds that he understands that YouTube wants to create a structure that “is familiar with ad agencies and Hollywood, because that’s where the easy money is.” But, with the letter, he hopes YouTube will consider leaving some space to let the creators do their thing.
“There is a business strategy to letting it be — to enable and move out of the way,” he says near the end. “And you’ll see that this is just the beginning, which is pretty exciting.”
It’s not exactly an unfair request, and it does voice a concern that was originally made public by Jason Calacanis (in his own way). But it’ll be interesting to see how, or if, YouTube responds. The big money right now is in working with TV advertisers and media companies. Not that YouTube has to choose one or the other, but the site needs to figure out how it wants to balance serving its two major content-based constituencies.
Watch the video, it’s definitely worth your time: