In 2016 I decided I wanted to start a YouTube channel. Three years later I was accepted into the partnership program on YouTube. The road to this milestone was a confusing, maddening, topsy turvy journey that almost broke me.
My favorite game of all time had just been remastered. Battlezone 98 Redux is the remaster of an RTS/FPS hybrid game that is widely considered a “buried gem.” RTS hybrid games are a very niche genre that I love, so I wanted to make a YouTube channel where I discuss them. I wanted to talk about Battlezone and look into other RTS hybrid games like Spellforce, Warlords Battlecry, and the more recent, Eximius: Seize The Frontline. Unfortunately, my state of my mind wouldn’t allow this.
I tried recording a video and found my lack of confidence crippling. I hate the sound of my own voice and I couldn’t speak freely. Confidence comes from prior success, and I didn’t have any of that at the time. I began uploading small clips to send to Kotaku’s highlight reel, but the clips largely went unused, so I eventually stopped sending them in. I languished in this state for quite a while. Until the day I decided to revisit a game I hadn’t played in almost a decade.
Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic 2: The Sith Lords had recently received a patch, allowing it to work on modern systems and in higher resolutions. Furthermore, The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod had just been completed. I didn’t remember much about the game, but the more I played, the more I began to question how I could have missed how profound the game’s story and dialogue is. The game has so much to say, and not just about Star Wars.
I checked YouTube to see what kind of content there was on the game, and there wasn’t all that much. I started uploading the game’s dialogue sections. Eventually I took inspiration from one video where the creator, Knights&Darths, edited out the dialogue options, arranged the dialogue in a sensible way, and added the music himself. I decided that I could do this and I could to it better.
Eventually I caught a break, and one of my videos blew up. This was largely thanks to YouTube placing it in the “suggested videos” section of a bigger channel’s new video. For months on end I could receive hundreds of views per day, and this trickled down to my other videos and subscriber numbers. To this day this video remains my most popular, sitting at 127,000 views as of this writing.
At this point I wasn’t worried about monetizing my videos since I figured that I wouldn’t be able to make all that much money anyway. I only had about 800 subscribers at the time, despite the success of the aforementioned video. It was my brother who convinced me to apply anyway with the argument of: “What have you got to lose?” I was told that a decision would be made in a month. A month came and went, but I forgot about it.
One day I received an email from one of my viewers asking me for my opinion on something the character of Kreia says. I ended up writing him an article of a reply and thought that others should hear this. My thoughts took me to a conclusion that I myself needed to hear. That’s how Kreia’s Conundrums was born.
I’m the kind of person who overthinks things anyway, and Kreia tries to teach the Jedi Exile to make the best of your powers. As I played the game, made videos, and washed testicles in the shower, more ideas for Kreia’s Conundrums videos would come to me. They were being very well received, despite my voice and sub par microphone I had at the time. Confidence without confirmation is simple arrogance. This was the success I needed.
It was around this time that YouTube announced their new partnership policy. From now on you’ll need at least 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months. I think I was at about 12,000 hours of watch time, but I did not have 1000 subscribers, so my application was tossed aside. Fast forward to July 30th, 2018 and...
This is when the “fun” began. Admittedly I hemmed and hawed a bit, as I always do, before hitting the apply button. But eventually I did and about a month later I was denied. The reason I was given was “Duplication” along with a few vague bullet points that might constitute what it means. I had several videos that had gotten a “copyright notice” on them. But I figure since they didn’t contribute much to my overall watch time hours, except for two of them, they were irrelevant. I was wrong. But even after deleting all of them, my watch hours weren’t all that affected.
Regardless I made the decision to delete them all and remake the two videos I really wanted to stay up. I lost the comments and such but it had to be done. You have to wait a month to reapply for partnership. Two months later I hit the reapply button and I didn’t have a single video with a copyright notice on it.
Within the two months I visited YouTube’s help forums and posted a question asking if there was any way to be granted partnership without me having to delete the two aforementioned videos. I received a reply telling me that it’s not possible, and this individual continued by trying to convince me that I will never get partnered. He argued that my content contains gameplay footage from a video game I do not own. I offered examples of several partnered YouTubers who produce very similar content to my own, except I would argue that the way I edit my videos are superior. This person replied by telling me that they could be running ads due to the videos having “massive” copyright notices on them. If this were the case, then my videos should have the same. The man was a fool is what I’m trying to say. Still he gave me the correct answer.
I certainly couldn’t go on Twitter and ask YouTube’s support account. If you don’t have at least 100K subscribers, please direct your questions and grievances to the nearest toilet. Understandable really, since Google doesn’t have unlimited personal, so they have to prioritize and help the people who actually make them money. Either way I got denied again.
This time the reason I was given was “reused content,” which didn’t sound all that different from “duplication.” It had the same vague bullet points. I think YouTube has some kind of legal obligation that prevents them from giving specific information.
I didn’t have any videos with copyright notices on them, so I was fresh out of ideas and started losing hope. I began wondering if there was a company out there that owns my voice. I started looking into Fair Use laws. My conclusion was that there isn’t a single person on this Earth who truly understands fair use, as it is wholly subjective. It could be that fair use doesn’t actually exist at all. But that still didn’t explain all these channels I keep finding, that are monetized, and are uploading very similar content.
But hold on a second, there was this one time during the process, where I uploaded a video and it did receive a copyright notice. But it was only up for maybe 5 minutes before I deleted it. Could that have been it? Are they that stingy? Then again, it was the following day that I received the rejection email. YouTube is allergic to giving you anything specific. So i’m gonna have to take a guess and say that this had to be it.
During the month I had to wait to reapply, I began live streaming, every weekday at 21:00 CEST. The archives were prone to getting copyright notices, including false-positives. I played the song “The Streets of Whiterun” from Skyrim at the end of a stream and it got flagged as a song I’ve never heard of. I found the song and let’s just say, I would never dream of using that bullshit “music.”
It was only after filing a dispute that I realized that the claimant had all the power. Even though it clearly wasn’t his song, he can still say it is, YouTube will believe him, and I’ll get a copyright strike on my account. So I just deleted the video.
After I reapplied again, I decided that I would upload my videos on a different YouTube account first, to see if it receives any copyright notices. If it doesn’t, then I’ll upload it to my main account. I also largely moved my streams over to YouTube’s streaming competitor, Twitch.
The streams I did do on YouTube I would keep very safe. No music, even if it was public domain, royalty free music. YouTube is giving me false-positives, I couldn’t risk it.
A few days in I did a stream where I discussed the situation with the audience. I noticed that the bullet points underneath the “reused content” description was gone and was replaced with this:
The “learn more” link led to a fairly long article that still wasn’t specific enough, confusing, and even contradictory at times. We went through it together and had a good laugh.
13 days ago on Thursday, May 9th, at 23:16 central European summer time, just a few minutes after wishing my stream audience farewell and turning it off, I received an email congratulating me. I was approved partnership. My first thought? “It was that one video that was uploaded for 5 minutes?!” Take note, the video was still a draft, it was never published. “You know what? Fuck it. It’s all done now.”
YouTube is nowhere near a perfect platform, and some real competition might do it some good, everyone knows that. I’m still getting false-positive copyright notices. YouTube has a built in video editor that allows you to cut things out. I cut out the songs but the copyright notices stay on for some reason. So someone else can potentially make money of my videos that never even used their songs to begin with. But now that I have partnership, I can upload videos that get copyright notices without any repercussion.
I’m also starting to see the true absurdity that adpocalypse left in it’s wake. After monetizing the videos I wanted to monetize, I did a livestream called “Not suitable for most advertisers.” All I did was discuss the videos that received the “limited or no ads” designation, as some of them are quite perplexing. Ironically that livestream received a false-positive copyright notice. I’ll give you a buck if you can tell me why this video would be unsuitable for advertisers.
But it is what it is. No matter the rules, content creators are going to have to adapt. It is sad to see what YouTube has become since it’s golden age of circa 2006. It’s basically just television now. You can’t say: “Sure you can say that, this is the internet” anymore. At least not on YouTube. And any competition to YouTube is gonna end up running into the same issues.
I have to tell my audience to stay chill in the comments section. It turns out that it’s possible that I may get in trouble if things get out of hand.
But if you have a goal, you’re gonna have to jump through those hoops and hurdles to get to it. Nothing worth getting is ever easy, nor should it be. My goal was to get partnered on YouTube, and I achieved that. I’m forever grateful to the loyal people who actually saw value in my content and in me. Even when I couldn’t see any value in myself. Maybe my voice isn’t as hideous as I thought. Maybe I have other qualities that I think are flaws.
All I know is it’s time for the next goal. 10,000 subscribers. Can I do it? Only one way to find out.
Edit: I forgot to mention that it’s become quite apparent that since getting partnership, YouTube has started advertising my videos more.
Papito Qinn is into the whole YouTube thing, is the winner of the 2016 SpookTAYcular Scary Story Contest, and a twitter incompetent. “I would complain about the time difference between here and Australia, but those guys gotta look out for spiders.”