At the mercy of the Internet: YouTube success hampered by algorithms and contracts
We hear a lot of success stories about a new breed of creators and how the Internet catapulted them to success. It's not always like that, of course. The algorithms and people that make up the internet are fickle and can easily change one's fortunes.
Ross Scott makes funny videos. At one point, he was so successful that he was able to work full time creating videos by partnering with Machinima.com. But the Freeman's Mind and Civil Patrol creator had run into a couple of roadblocks that made it hard to keep creating. These roadblocks were, as it turns out, the very things that had helped to generate his success in the past.
The first thing that changed was a tweak in YouTube's recommendation algorithm. The number of views on Scott's videos, new and old, dive-bombed after this change went into place. Scott claims that instead of displaying recommendations for somewhat niche, Machinima-type videos that a user might be looking for, the new system steered viewers to already popular, and therefore more profitable videos that had nothing to do with the original video. The consequence is perhaps less tailored results for users and fewer views for creators to monetize.
Around the same time, Machinima.com attempted to renegotiate the terms of Scott's contract. While Scott was not able to disclose any of the terms of the contract, he said that it "was NOT a good contract in terms of rights regarding my videos." His struggles with Machinima.com hasn't exactly been a secret, but this, of course was disheartening. In the end, Scott ended his relationship with the YouTube heavy hitter.
Things aren't all sour — Scott has since joined the That Guy With The Glasses network (home of The Nostalgia Critic) for future distribution of his videos while being able to retain more creative control. This story serves as a sort of cautionary tale that the winds of fortune can quickly change, especially on the internet. Let's hope Scott's new situation affords him a better set of sails.