HEADLINE: YouTube’s Support for Creators DROPS 30%

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Description automatically generatedYouTube CUTS DEEP: YouTube just laid off about 100 people in its creator support teams – roughly 30% overall. They also eliminated the top-creator partnership team and combined those partner managers with the broader creator support group. The standard blah-blah corporate speak will emphasize that creators are as important as ever to YouTube, but as I’ve learned, you follow what a company DOES, not what it SAYS. And by laying off 30% of its creator support staff, I can only conclude that YouTube values its creators 30% less in 2024 than they did in 2023. See below for my take – but this move is just part of a set of big changes.

Jellysmack and Spotter Now More Alike Than Different: A few years ago, Jellysmack and Spotter offered two different models for supporting and leveraging creator businesses. Jellysmack helped YouTubers expand to alternate platforms – primarily Facebook – while Spotter unlocked back-catalog value on YouTube. But they’ve slowly moved closer to each other and are now more alike than different.

Last year Jellysmack leaned into back-catalog acquisition, while Spotter expanded into creator tools and white-glove service for top creators. Now with the collapse of Facebook monetization and the 2023 ad recession, the two are even more similar. Jellysmack’s December reorg into three divisions (as laid out by Business Insider $) closely mirrors Spotter’s model. “Jellysmack Technologies” leans into AI-based self-service tools for a broad swath of creators and will compete with Spotter’s unannounced “Spotter Studio”. “Jellysmack Services” provides white-glove support and monetization to high-value creators and media partners and aligns with Spotter’s efforts there. Where do they differ? Jellysmack was built on owned channels – mostly Facebook – and “Jellysmack Entertainment” will continue to build and acquire creators and studios.

Softbank has plowed hundreds of millions across both companies. In 2024’s challenging investment climate, higher interest rates and uncertain ad market, perhaps the only move left on the board is for Son-san to merge them together. Given YouTube’s move I hope this doesn’t happen, as each company has strong leadership and offers true value to creators. We will watch this play out over the next 12 months.

Colin and Samir Launch Pricey Course for Creators: Great to see Colin and Samir bringing their expertise to Kajabi, launching a new course to help accelerate creators. But wow, $1,800 is a lot to be part of a 70-person month-long cohort. You do get 7 live sessions, targeted exercises, and lots of videos to watch – plus a year of Spotter Studio, an unannounced suite of AI tools. For that money you could sign up for 18 months of on-demand coaching from VidIQ, every one of Jay Clouse’s courses or a combo of Ed FilmBooth’s Thumbnail course and Ali Abdaal’s “Part-Time YouTube Academy”. There are many other options too, including some even more expensive. Here’s an idea. Maybe we need a FYPM for courses. How about it @lindsey Lugrin? FYTM?

What It Means: It’s telling that just as YouTube eliminates much of its dedicated white-glove creator team, both Spotter and Jellysmack lean in, and Colin and Samir get even deeper into the act as well. It’s the inverse of what happened in 2012, when YouTube realized it needed to claw-back creator relationships from the external MCNs it tacitly supported. TikTok also seems less interested in top creators – mostly investing in micro and nano creators. It’s more evidence of a maturing online video market, as layoffs and profit optimization replace growth. It also means that even as the overall creator economy grows, creators are more and more on their own. The path for creators used to be linear – build a channel, grow your community, cash big rev-share checks. No more. You are now in a maze of twisty little passages, all of them different. Creators must take charge – through owned communities, direct connections with fans and direct monetization. Finding your way is more and more up to you. Even more reason for Creators.Org and Creators Guild to step up, and yet another reason to be optimistic about Whalar’s new co-working/clubhouses in NYC, LA and London.

Jim Update: I’m so excited to be curating and hosting Creator Lab with @Robin Raskin at NAB in Vegas this April, and Creator World in May (as part of Creator Week) with @Jasper Donat in Singapore. Second time around for each event – and we’re going to make each one so much better! Want to speak? Send me a DM or email. Also pix from my meetup at Margaritaville in Vegas last week at Creator Economy Live – expect one in Singapore AND Vegas this spring.

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