As many of you already know, YouTube recently updated its policies and programs which allow for users to monetize videos and bring in a bit of income to their channels. While the payments are rarely more than a small honorarium, there are benefits to this Partners Program that allows these otherwise obscure and unknown creators to advertise and open themselves and their work to an entirely new audience. No group has benefited more from this than the horror community. But the new changes coming on February 20th are going to cut a lot of these independent filmmakers and artists out of the program and leave HorrorTube in the cold.
Here’s the basics.
In January, YouTube notified creators in their Partners Program that as of February 20th if they do not have a minimum of 1,000 followers and 4,000 hours of content for the past year on their channel, they will lose monetization and all of the benefits that come with it. This is everything from specialized thumbnails on videos to appearing in the top of searches and recommendations. For a community that relies heavily on organic growth to continue existing, this is devastating. For those of you wondering, 4,000 hours is roughly 175 episodes of your favorite 23 minute long sitcom crammed into a single 365 day period. Think somewhere deep in season 8 of The Simpsons. That’s written, produced, shot, edited, uploaded and running. That’s a full time job for creators who are already working full time jobs just to support the projects that you’ve come to love.
Horror Gal, an online horror hostess and personality on YouTube was one of those hit by these changes. Like most of us in the community, 2017 was a mixed bag for this HorrorTube starlet. Creating new content was a priority but so were other things like paying bills, caring for family, and trying to stay alive. In a video she posted on her channel after receiving the notice, she vents her frustration over the issue and reminds viewers that this isn’t a “cash grab” by artists posting to the site. It’s about respect, recognition, and above all else, creating entertainment for an audience that is desperately and, in our society constantly seeking out the new and original. Monetization by YouTube rarely covers the operational costs incurred by these creators (with some special exceptions) but it at least feels like a victory to receive a little something for the content you provide.
While HorrorTubers like Horror Gal are still going to be making new videos and keeping up their channels, others simply can’t. It’s bad enough to lose out on the money you’ve been earning but to be sentenced to the dregs of the YouTube gulag because you can’t meet this new criteria in 30 days is a crushing hit that’s left a lot of people asking “What’s the point?”
As a man who has watched hours of original horror content thanks to recommendations on videos and creators like you, I’m saying don’t give up. There’s a lot still to be done.
Emma with Spooky Astronauts has suggested creating playlists featuring videos from all of the horror channels you subscribe to as a great start to keeping HorrorTube alive. With each video in the playlist linking back to the creator’s channel as well as to other channels, people who find the playlists can access and discover a world of new horrors.
Then there’s the Horror Addicts and their 24 hour Creepy Channel Crawl coming up this weekend, February 17th and 18th. In response to changes with the Partners Program and the threat it poses to so many independent channels, Horror Addicts has gotten together with several horror YouTubers to create this telethon. Every hour a different HorrorTube channel will be streaming live with Dead West and Mandy from Screaming Soup acting as MC’s for the event.
Of course, the February 20th deadline for these changes is speeding towards users and and the only thing that seems certain is, unless your channel meets their new criteria they’ll be dropping you from the Partner Program. With the company doing a marginal amount of backpedaling in the wake of the backlash their changes have garnered it’s uncertain if other perks of that program will still be stripped from users or not. Find your favorite HorrorTubes and make sure you like, subscribe, and share. Keeping them out there will help bring in hits which will help them stay active. There are literally thousands of YouTubers out there right now making that scary. Let’s keep the fear alive with their content and #savehorrortube!
Dan Lee is a horror fiend and freelance writer with a special place in his heart for monster movies and demonic possession stories.