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.

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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.

You can view a complete list of rules here.

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.

  • Teresa Richardson

    There is a lot you can do yourself. I have been consistently advertising for the past three years, shortly after becoming a partner. I am an unknown outside of my niche' but the channel continues to grow much larger at a consistent pace!!

  • Victor R. Solis

    @JScott, thanks for the article and opinion. I agree with your analogy of "tax cuts for the rich" applied to existing YouTube (YT) partners. As someone who has collaborated on projects which are online, but not a YT partner, I would certainly want to take advantage of any YT initiative extended to non-partners such as the Creator Institute.

    A few related issues that my filmmaking colleagues and I have discussed recently:

    - Creating engaging content that appeals to an audience is not enough; uploading a funny scripted video is not enough. It seems we must become experts at promoting our content online via social media, SEO etc. *in addition* to being storytellers.

    - There are YT partners that have tremendous output and are savvy promoters, garnering high traffic for their content. However, there are non-partners with compelling videos but little knowledge of how to promote/market their content.

    - Besides this aforementioned "by the bootstraps" method of making viewers aware of your online content, what other contests, crowdsourcing competitions, or initiatives are there which we can hit?


  • London Bosco

    The YouTube Creator Institute is for everyone--not just partners!

    • JeremyScott

      Thank you, you are correct. I was mistaken to include that in the partners-only offerings.

  • kuram

    they do provide a hand... and that is the youtube partnership program. If you can show promise with whatever you have and earn partner status, then there is more possibility of you growing if you are provided an impetus....

    I think this makes more sense as far as success rate goes. Provide a boost to the proven rather than deciding out of a million users on who gets the cake....

    • JeremyScott

      Well, it's not that I don't see your point. But I don't completely agree with it. I refuse to believe that the only people making content worth promoting are those who have already earned a ton of viewers.

      It's like saying the best musicians and singers in the world are all signed to recording contracts already, so there's no reason to scout acts that haven't built up huge followings yet.

      • kuram

        but when they sign up new YouTube partners, they are in a way scouting for new talent, and helping them with the first step. And when you do become a youtube partner, you do get help in promotion. Its just that they don't put 30k on your lap.

        There is a step by step process for anything you do, even Justin Beiber didn't get a signed contract automatically... he had to prove himself through small school gigs, get a lot of audience and only then Usher was able to find him and put the moolah in.

        • JeremyScott

          Yeah, I hear you. I'm just saying that part of what YouTube says they're trying to do is help you create better videos AND help market them and grow the audience.

          As I talked about last week (, there's far too much content coming in for anyone (even YouTube) to check it all out, which means there are tons of potential partner-level creators that won't get noticed. Maybe their videos are great but they suck at marketing?

          They're saying you have to attain a certain level of success to become a partner, but that level of success is not as easy to reach as simply saying "make great videos."