There has been a lot of chatter in the tech industry recently about YouTube stars being tempted to jump ship from the platform that made them big names, in search of more fame and a bigger paycheck.
Facebook is reportedly courting some of YouTube’s biggest names to upload videos direct to its platform, while other YouTube creators have been signing big deals with TV networks, like Lucas Cruikshank with Nickelodeon. And then there are the countless new video startups like Snapchat, Vine, and Vessel all looking to woo the best online talent with the biggest fanbases over to their platforms too.
But Patrick Walker, a former YouTube executive who is now the chief executive of video network Rightster, has some advice for YouTube stars tempted to ditch the service: “Think twice before jumping ship.”
Speaking to The Guardian, Walker says Cruikshank’s move to sign a deal with Nickelodeon in 2009 should serve as a forewarning to others thinking of doing the same.
“It’s a cautionary tale: he jumped a bit too far into Nickelodeon’s world and lost his audience. Creators now are very smart, and very particular about protecting the authenticity of their audience. The great ones are maintaining a YouTube presence and being respectful to their history, but they are experimenting on other platforms,” Walker said.
Walker doesn’t think that experimentation will ultimately hurt YouTube in the long-run, telling The Guardian: “YouTube has been around for 10 years, and look how it’s ingrained in people’s lives: politically, socially and culturally…They have done a great job in staying cool, mostly. That’s the biggest challenge for these new platforms: To attract the cool kids, and then stay cool enough to keep them.”
And that’s why the cool kids, namely YouTube’s biggest stars, should treat other platforms with trepidation.
He advised: “That [check] may look shiny, but a high revenue-share and big check with no audience is no strategy. If you’re trying to build a long term relationship with your audience is no strategy. If you’re trying to build a long term relationship with your audience, you can’t ignore the place where that audience exists.
“So think twice before jumping ship. But in many ways this is just like investing money: you want to have a diversified portfolio.”
In the social media sense, that means negotiating direct deals with brands to create content across all of their social accounts, which is where Rightster comes in. Walker said most YouTube big talents are making 50% of their revenues by striking direct deals with brands, rather than just relying on ad revenue from their videos alone.
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