Are You a Sell-Out If You're a Creative Who Wants to Make Money?
We're almost a month into 2018 and there has already been enough drama in the digital creative world to last a whole year.
If I hear the word "algorithm" one more time, I'm going to scream.
The latest hot topic is Youtube's new regulations for monetization that essentially strip small youtubers of their ability to make money from their content. They're raising the standards for getting paid. You have to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours watched yearly to qualify.
While many were outraged and hurt by Youtube's decision to yank the rug out from under those who helped build its platform, others had different (and notably less offended) opinions. Some big youtubers have spoken out about it, interjecting the age old gripe about those who create in the hopes of making money.
Case in point:
Right...because you're totally making videos about mixing every fruit together and wearing Kylie Jenner nails for a day because it's your creative passion.
I'm not (yet) a youtuber, but I do know how difficult it is to get that first 100, 1,000, or even 5,000 followers. As Grace from Been Graced said in her video, there are certainly creators who have been putting genuine content out for years and still haven't reached milestones like that. So we know this new rule isn't something that can be overcome just by "digging in and only creating quality content."
I don't understand how Joey Graceffa and other big creators fix their lips (or fingers) to say things like this while simultaneously churning out vapid content to continue being famous, viral, and rich. They are pawns of this new age where value is determined by popularity, but what is popular is not always valuable.
The idea that you should have to negotiate between having money to eat and following your passions spans the entire creative industry.
While this is a time of creatives becoming valuable voices for businesses and even society, our worth is still heavily downplayed. From in and outside of the industry, people love to throw out "if you were really passionate about it, you wouldn't be so concerned about the money" whenever a creative dares to talk about being compensated properly for their work. Even people like Joey Graceffa, who directly profit from this, are so ready to denigrate those who more publicly put money and creativity in the same sentence.
Why do we want so bad to keep creatives in a state of suppression? We are so hostile to the changing landscape of the creative industry and the space that has been made for people to actually form a business around what they create. Sure, Joey rose up at a time where making money on Youtube wasn't an option. Is that any more honorable? Because I sure don't see him or his peers denying compensation now that it is an option. So why should that be a standard shoved down the throats of new and emerging creators?
We're now in an age where your passion can (and should) also be your career. Creative endeavors are not just hobbies any more. We should all be actively trying to break down the starving artist trope and the assumption that those who profit off of their creativity must be selling out. Our generation is one that has been told to follow our passions. But, at the same time, we're warned that if we do follow them we should subscribe to a life of never being valued for what we do outside of getting a couple of likes on social media.
I understand the effect that money can sometimes have on things that were once pure and genuine. We are certainly seeing an influx of people who are entering this space with a profit-oriented mindset only. But we can't conflate those who should be rightfully rewarded for their valuable and authentic creative work with those who stand to cheapen the art. In our generation, one of the biggest things that kills creatives' ability to advance is finances. By attempting to obstruct the pathway for those who actually want to add value to the creative world, we actually allow this space to be further saturated by those who have the money to simply buy their way to the top with no actual creative passion.
Money is not going anywhere. Once it's in a space, it will never leave. Can we not instead use it as a way to appreciate the real artists and talent who are willing to dedicate their working hours to what they do best? You don't suddenly lose all your creativity when money is introduced. What causes people to lose their creative voices is when money is only introduced to those who fall in line with viral trends and they feel the need to fit that mold to prosper. This is the exact opposite of creativity and what is going on now.
There is absolutely no shame in collecting your coin for producing something that has impacted or benefitted an industry in some form. You're not a sell-out and you're not entitled. Continue to acknowledge your value and expand the space for creatives to chase their dreams.