The Internet has done something revolutionary to the artistic world. Writers no longer have to go through publishers to share a book, a musician doesn’t have to go through a record label to share their album, and a filmmaker doesn’t have to go through a producer to share their movie. At least 400 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and 37,000 YouTube channels receive over a million video views per month.
That’s significant. Consider that these YouTubers monetize their videos through ads, and often supplement these ads with third-party services like Kickstarter for funding a big project or Patreon for subscription-based funding.
Hank Green, a popular figure in the YouTube community, states that 300,000 channels are doing well financially, receiving over 100,000 views per month and at least $2,500 per month in ad revenue. Making videos can now be a legitimate career, and that means there are a number of other parties who are interested in profiting off of these creators. Multi-channel networks became popular a few years ago, where YouTubers entered into sometimes onerous contracts for ad-revenue splits. These weren’t necessarily bad, but one example where creators may not know what they’re getting into.
There is no system for protecting creators, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let alone the notoriously cut-throat entertainment industry.
As a response, Hank is forming the Internet Creators Guild. In his article on Medium, he explains how this guild will be made up of video creators and help represent them to the press and deal with the new fame and complexities of being a creator. This will be lead by Laura Chernikoff as the executive director with some seed money from VidCon.
Although the guild is at first designed for filmmakers, the idea is for it to be open to any sort of creator on the Internet. Musicians, artists, and writers are also eligible to become members. However, it is at its core a guild of creators and not for corporations.
The ICG is for people, not for corporations. This is a guild, not an industry association. But of course, creators within (and employed by) these larger organizations are also eligible for membership. You do not have to be an independent creator to be a member of the ICG, you only have to be a creator.
There is a membership fee to actually join, costing $60 per year, which should help keep the guild running and allowing it to expand. It has a range of goals and a committed set of individuals who want to do that.
The ICG’s goal is simply to increase the number of people in the world who can be creators professionally.
YouTube has become a big part of our culture and many comedians and musicians got their start there. It now has a larger primetime audience than the top 10 TV shows. While it’s not yet clear how effective the Internet Creators Guild will be in the long-term, it should be a step in the right direction for new creators who are entering this industry blind and need guidance.