DeStorm Power: Can I Count on YouTube? [OP-ED]

I am blessed to be where I am today. Throughout the years I’ve built many strong relationships at YouTube/Google. Because of that, I’ve battled going public and addressing the frustrations I’m facing as a content creator. I finally made the decision to speak on these issues while my channel is booming, and not when the numbers are down. This way, my concerns can be seen not as complaints, but as a valued creator simply looking for everything to work properly.

YouTube has always been a site where the unknown can imagine, create and see dreams become reality. With dedication, creativity and sometimes a dab of luck, talented creators all over the world have gone from nobodies to superstars. Throughout the many changes and upgrades YouTube has rolled out, we as Partners have learned to adapt. Partners have become more and more dependent on the site for their career independence, their livelihood and of course … their income.

I started my channel in April of 2006 and received my partnership three years later. It was a brutal grind going from earning simple coins and working those side jobs to establishing my own company with employees. Aside from financial success, top creators, by default, become household names. Blessed with subscribers and fans … burdened with haters and stalkers: we are YouTubers. Some people think it’s easy. “You just make videos and post them to YouTube, right?” Wrong. It’s a full-time job and then some. To make it to where I am, I work 12-15 hour days: writing, creating, recording, shooting, editing, uploading, posting, promoting, replying and then promoting some more … it becomes your life. Unlike film or television, there are no off seasons. Sunday? Yeah, that’s a work day. You’re on the go, go, go everyday, all day from your inception. To have any healthy social life, you must stitch it into the very fabric of your newfound digital lifestyle. When things are working, you’re at the top of the world. However, because this has become our job, and such a huge part of our lives, when things are broken, it becomes a living hell.

In February of 2012, YouTube underwent its largest platform change to date. I was honored to be one of the first creators chosen to initiate the launch. There were tons of groundbreaking ideas that made the site more cutting edge. During this changeover, somehow on the backend, many channels went out of whack! There were broken sub boxes, view count issues, and glitches that needed Fixing. As expected, YouTube worked closely with creators to defuse many of these issues. A handful of the channels were never fixed. My music channel “DeStorm” remains as one of the unfixed channels. For over a year I’ve been back and forth with YouTube in hopes to figure out why my channel is still broken. Before the big change, my channel averaged 8-10 million views monthly. After the change, 3 million — a huge drop!

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We analyzed other channels to see if this was consistent across the platform. Many channels took losses, a few channels were broken, while most weren’t affected at all. I began reaching out to YouTube more, having the engineers analyze my channel for inconsistencies and glitches. I was told on a few occasions: “Yes, there seems to be issues with the view count. We cannot replace the views but don’t worry, your Adsense is not affected.” How is this possible if revenue is determined by views? Still with no resolution, I recently proposed whether my views, subscribers and content could be transferred to a working channel on the site. No response yet, but I remain hopeful.

For the most part, on a “working” YouTube channel (where creators consistently upload), videos average 25-50 percent of their subscriber base in views, per upload. For example: my sketch comedy channel, “DeStormTV,” has 275 thousand subscribers. The videos on that channel max at 75-100 thousand views per upload. With minimal social push, it’s considered a working channel on YouTube. On my music channel, on the other hand, which has 1.36 million subscribers, videos recently have been maxing at 75-100 thousand views per upload. I give these videos a huge social push via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and I also get help from fellow creators. 1,085,000 more subscribers and the numbers are even? That’s only 5-8 percent of the channel’s subscriber base being reached per upload. My music channel is broken.

My most recent upload titled “Invincible” featuring Ray William Johnson and Chester See was a huge determining factor on finally speaking out on this issue. Ray and Chester both helped me promote the video with annotations, tweets, posts to Facebook, etc. Everyone got behind it. Judging by the views on the video, one can easily see that it’s broken. On YouTube, unless the audience is prompted, 100 thousand likes/dislikes on a video translates to roughly 5-6 million views. How is it that “Invincible” has managed to rack up to 120 thousand likes to date, but with only 1.7 million views? This means 70 percent of the views are not behind logged or being lost somewhere in the backend of YouTube.

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I know I’m not the only creator with issues. I’m also aware that with so much content being uploaded daily and with the many changes YouTube undergoes, the site won’t run smoothly all the time — but my channel has been broken for over a year now and something needs to be done. These losses are not only stressful as hell but they also reflect on how brands and subscribers view my channel. It’s impossible to explain to them (YouTube/Google) issues even I don’t understand. Engagement is stronger than ever, so there’s no doubt the fans are watching, and feeling my content. Whether your channel is 1 view or 100 million views off … if you work for it, you should receive it. Every creator large or small deserves to have a working platform to reach their full potential. Along with the passion to simply create, seeing the world’s true response to our work is what inspires us to continue pushing forward. I know that when my channel is working properly again … Oh my black ass is poppin’ bottles!

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