I cannot overstate the life changing effect that YouTube has had on the world.
It has changed the viewing habits of an entire generation. It has given a voice to anyone who so desires to have one. And all it takes is a recording devise, and an Internet connection.
This is a far cry from the days, not so long ago, when an artist needed to book time in a recording studio, or TV studio, in order to make a record or film. It was prohibitively expensive, and reserved for only the elite in the entertainment business. But, with the evolution of the digital age, and all of the devices that came along with it, the professional music and TV studio are no longer needed to create content.
The hardware hurdle has been erased over the last twenty years or so, starting with the consumer camcorder. However, getting someone to publish and distribute it was even more difficult. That’s because distribution is a business. Which meant that the content needed an audience, or it couldn’t make money. Without the ability to generate income, there was no incentive for anyone to distribute that content. The distribution problem was solved in 2005.
Along Comes YouTube
In 2005, YouTube was developed by three former employees of Pay Pal. They designed it as a free service for content sharing. Almost immediately, people started to load their content up to YouTube. Within months of its inception, YouTube quickly grew its library of videos. Google quickly recognized the potential, and purchased it.
Today, millions of videos are loaded up on YouTube everyday. Google has found a way to monetize it. They, and others, have found a way for the creators to make money on it as well. And with that, an entire generation of young people are moving away from established entertainment mediums like TV, and getting their entertainment from YouTube.
Since there is no cost or barrier in any way to getting a video up on YouTube, and since there is real opportunity to make money from it (and a lot of money at that), people are jumping into the pool everyday. I spent three days at Vidcon 2015 this year. I was amazed at the number of young people there, who paid over $150 dollars to get in. People as young as eight years old were there (with their parents), to learn the trick to making money on YouTube. These are serious Content Creators, with real talent and an outlet for that talent. Imagine a decade ago, if an eight year old person walked into ABC TV studios and pitched an idea. They would have never gotten past the security guard at the elevators on the ground floor. Today, they are able to realize their dreams, and at any age. All it takes is an idea.
I spoke to so many of those young people at the show. I was very impressed with their knowledge of equipment and editing software. The schools are doing an excellent job of exposing them to the world of video production, and at a very early age. Students are producing content by the third grade. Those who are interested, gravitate to it and advance their skills on their own. There was one interesting commonality among them.
Most everyone starts production with their cell phone and their computer. They already have these two devices. They have a phone for communication, so using it for production is a natural step. And everyone has either a computer at home, or one in school they can use. Household income is not much of a barrier to owning one or both of these. The camera in a phone these days is good enough for production. And the apps available on both the phone and on the computer are easy to use, and in many cases, already on the devices when purchased.
But so many of them aspire to owning a DSLR. I found that interesting. There is so much more you can do with a cell phone (or tablet) than with a DSLR, given all of the apps available that cannot be used with a DSLR. I don’t know if they see that the picture quality is better than a DSLR (I’m not sure it is in all cases), or that there is a bigger lens assortment. It may be that a DSLR just looks more professional to them. Whatever their motivation, they all want to move to a DSLR. In my conversations, I found that they still used their cell phone for some production, but that the DSLR was their first preference.
Since I am in the audio business, we had a lot of conversations with about audio solutions. The benchmark of professionalism in this industry is audio quality. Everyone agrees that you can tell an amateur from a professional by the audio quality. If you go through YouTube and listen to the videos, you will hear the difference in audio production quality. Audio is the least understood aspect of production. The young producers are interested in learning hoe to improve their audio.
More Professional Productions
The overall goal is to make more professional looking and sounding videos. Getting the correct hardware is a start. Learning how, and when to use each piece of equipment is done through trial and error. It is all a learning curve. And they are learning. As YouTube matures, the viewers are expecting and demanding more professional productions. More views means the possibility of making money. And that is what is driving the demand for better equipment.
Vidcon was an eye opening experience for me. One of my duties at work is to create new products. In the past, our focus has been on the industry professional. Today, that is changing. There is a huge market for lower cost, easy to use audio and video solutions for the new YouTube Generation of Content Creators. I have been forced to change my mindset. What it has done for my company is to open a whole new market, with a limitless need for new products. All thanks to YouTube.
Perry Goldstein is a veteran of the electronics industry, with both consumer and Pro A/V electronics experience. He is also a professional speaker, and writer for the electronics industry. He has won numerous awards for product design. Perry is currently the Director of New Digital Technologies for Marshall Electronics and MXL pro audio division, as well as an instructor of digital marketing at the higher education level.