YouTuber, dream job

Image: G. Cortez
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By VITOR SILVEIRA*

Some thoughts on the world's most popular streaming platform

One of the new habits that the pandemic brought me was watching (sometimes compulsively) videos on YouTube, Google's famous video platform. Despite using the internet since the late 90s and not being an analog dinosaur, I had never delved into this site/application for a number of reasons that are not worth mentioning. But, with the long compulsory confinement of recent times and a good connection available, I finally dove headfirst into this parallel universe.

As you could imagine, in an environment where anyone can publish their content without prior supervision, there is a lot of interesting things to be seen and also a lot of futility, a lot of dubious information, a lot of clickbait… Incidentally, one of the things that impresses a novice user right away is the immense variety of channels available covering practically every possible and imaginable topic with an extremely variable quality. On YouTube you can see literally everything: from renowned specialists with professional-level audiovisual productions to videos that are really poor, either from an aesthetic point of view or the quality of the information they present.

I could go on making many other considerations about the most prominent aspects of that platform, but that is not my intention here and I really think it would be unnecessary, the vast majority of you must know that space to some extent. One last feature I would like to highlight are the ads that insist on interrupting our videos when we least expect it. To a certain extent, this inconvenience is acceptable, since it is a free service and, for that very reason, is often the only streaming available to us, impoverished Brazilians. The income from these advertisements serves several purposes: covering the costs of running the service, filling Alphabet's asses with gold even more and also remunerating content producers, this is (finally) the topic I want to address here.

As for the audience they reach, we can classify the channels into small, medium, large and gigantic, many of which are monetized by their videos. Many others appear every day looking to earn some money on the platform. It is worth noting that not everyone is paid for the content they generate, first of all it is necessary to offer a few million views to the demigod Google so that only then does it begin to reward you, you must also obey certain rules and criteria established by the staff of California.

The fact is that, with the near end of public tenders, general precariousness of the labor market and the general crisis installed in the country after the most recent coup d'état, making a living as a YouTuber has become the dream of millions of people, whether they young or not so young.

Small channels, with luck, earn a few minimum wages per month, medium channels guarantee their creators a middle or upper middle class life and large or giant channels can give their owners a life of millionaire rock stars. Let us also remember that the revenue obtained does not come only from Ad-Sense (a service that links ads between videos), but from many other sources such as: product sales, barter, crowdfunding and even merchandising. Of course, when calculating profits, one must also consider the size of the production involved, who records alone in his room does not share the money with anyone, while the independent press channels, for example, have many collaborators.

Now let's take a deeper look at one case in particular: podcasts are perhaps the type of program that is multiplying the fastest on YouTube, I think there are already a hundred of them or even more. Among them we can highlight Podpah, an interview podcast that has more than four and a half million subscribers. This channel has become even better known recently for being the place chosen by former President Lula to dialogue with this new generation that lives online and rarely watches TV. This interview broke the platform's simultaneous audience record, with almost 300 people following the conversation in real time. It is worth mentioning that Podpah has fixed sponsors, which is not very common, even among attractions of great reach. A few weeks ago, the two (peripheral) guys who run the attraction did a live where they were 24 hours uninterrupted live, receiving several other YouTubers who took turns in an endless conversation. According to the presenters themselves, in that live alone they raised more than half a million reais with the six sponsorship shares sold.

I'm sure that very few people in Brazil earned as much money that day as those two young "brothers", and they themselves said during the broadcast that, a few years ago, they often didn't have a single penny in their pockets. Ah, it's worth remembering that many more thousands will certainly come from that day's work, through the ads, which continue to generate passive income. You can be sure that those two are inspiration for an entire generation.

I could cite some unnecessary ostentatious phrases said in the live/marathon by the presenters and by some of the guys who were there, but I think it is unnecessary, they are generally all very humble and aware of the poor and unequal country in which they live. I believe that more than anything else, this just confirms the exceptional financial condition they are in. It also serves to remind us how seductive and potentially alienating money can be, even for those who remember well where they came from and for those striving for a more equal world.

I could also talk about class consciousness, commodity fetish, etc… But that is not the topic here. The subject, as I said from the beginning is: YouTuber, the profession of dreams.

*Vitor Silveira graduated in Social Communication, writer and photographer. Author among others of Once On The Road.

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