YouTube yesterday announced a new initiative aimed at giving a handful of select up-and-coming partner channels an extra boost. It's called YouTube NextUp, and is part of the overall YouTube Next initiative–their new partner-growth division staffed mostly by employees of the recently-acquired Next New Networks. NextUp will eventually see 25 select partners from around the globe earn a big prize package that aims to help them turn their hobby into a full-time career.
If you haven't been paying attention lately, YouTube is fairly obsessed with helping partners create better videos. They've handed out cash, given gift cards for video equipment, started the On The Rise competition, and even created actual college courses around the subject of online video. If there's a web service that does more for its best users, I've never heard of it.
What Is YouTube NextUp?
And now partners have a shot at the NextUp prize pack, which will get many of them drooling. Here's a list of the prizes the 25 lucky winners will receive:
- $35,000 in funding to produce a new project, purchase new tools or advance their overall YouTube careers
- A spot at a four-day YouTube Creator Camp in which they'll benefit from 1:1 mentoring and learn an array of production techniques from leading industry and YouTube experts
- Promotion of their final work and channel
- The opportunity to become better connected with a special community of aspiring and talented content creators from around the world
How To Apply For YouTube NextUp
Interested partners should be up-and-coming channels–YouTube recommends that only those channels with 300,000 subscribers or less apply. You can apply at the YouTube Next page, and the process is two-fold. They want a three-minute video (or less) that best represents the kind of content you most want to be making in the future. In addition, you'll have to provide short written answers to a series of questions about why you'd like to be part of the NextUp program and how you'll spend the $35,000.
You have until midnight, March 27, 2011 to apply, and anyone who applied for the YouTube Creator Institute (announced last week) cannot apply for this–they want up-and-coming partners to choose between the two new offerings: Creator Institute, or NextUp.
YouTube Needs To Give More Love To The Little Guys
It's hard to find fault with these kinds of moves. As I mentioned above, YouTube puts their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting partners–it's not just lip service.
But what about those video creators who aren't yet partners? Can't YouTube roll out an intiative for them? I know of a host of outstanding channels that have not yet been granted partner status, and most of them would surely like to compete for the $35,000… or for a spot in one of the college courses… or get new video gear. (UPDATE: As a commenter pointed out, the Creator Institute is actually open to all users, not just partners).
If YouTube only ever shares this kind of love with partners, then there's not nearly as much motivation for the non-partner channels to try anymore. It's a bit like tax cuts for the rich, honestly. YouTube has always been rather secretive about partner status, and content creators can do nothing on their own to become one short of getting a massive amount of views.
I understand (and respect) the fact that YouTube is striving for better overall content. And I'm not even suggesting they shouldn't be helping partners. But if they never give a hand to the little guys, then the well of potential partners will eventually dry up. I, for one, would like to see a YouTube initiative that helps non-partners make better videos too, because otherwise… I don't see how they'll ever stand a chance to catch up to the existing partners.