When I first realized that I could monetize my YouTube channel, I was ecstatic. Here it was! The dream of every YouTuber – making money simply doing what we love most. However, that initial rush soon gave way to a feeling of dread. How would my audience react? Would I be seen as selling out, giving way to corporate interests over the comfort and trust of my faithful viewers?
After a moment of reflection, I arrived at the following rationale. First, YouTube has been around for a long time. It is true that there was once a time without those pesky advertisements, but that time is long gone. Anyone who watches internet videos today already understands that watching ads is simply a part of the process.
Second, monetizing can help motivate me to make more videos. The prospect of actually earning money from posting videos can provide motivation (albeit extrinsic) for uploading even more interesting content.
Finally, monetization is not a one-time, end-all-be-all decision. I can easily remove the ads from my videos if I change my mind and I can submit new videos without any ads whenever I choose. Monetization may seem like “selling out”, but the truth is that it is just another step in the evolution of this wonderful video sharing platform that we all love.
After mentioning this to some o my students, I was surprised (and delighted) to find that they supported different sides of the debate. One student, sided with me and offered the idea of empathizing with the artist. She said “So let`s not be nervous while waiting for the end of advertising just imagine that you will make someone [the artist] a little happier.”
Another student, took the opposite position that monetization ruined the experience. This student cited how famous YouTubers are also role models to children and that we turn to YouTube as a relaxing experience, not an innundation of advertising. However, she struck at the heart of the matter when she explained that “Useful and entertaining content should be separated.”
This division between the commercial world and the artistic world is a powerful theme that has existed ever since the invention of commerce. In Ancient Greece, this profane and sacred division manifested itself in the division between the agora (market) and the temple of cities. Modern day parallels include the debate over the use of commercial products in schools and the debate in Italy over the mixture of advertising and historical sites. And now, here we are in the 21st century with a single platform struggling to maintain both commercial advancement and the integrity of the artistic creator. To further complicate matters, this year YouTube outraged many YouTubers by revealing that some videos was “non-monetizable” due to graphic content that advertisers did not approve of. However, the increasing influence of advertisers on YouTube is just another part of this revolutionary platform’s evolution, and there’s no telling what YouTube will look like in five years.
For more on the art vs. $$$ debate, check out my next post (Coming soon!)