My little brother recently got into a fight with the world-famous electronic musician deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”) in the comment section on a YouTube video. That’s just like little brothers right? Here’s the story. deadmau5 is pretty opinionated when it comes to music, and even has a whole section of his Wikipedia article devoted to disparaging comments he’s made about DJ’s. Basically, his argument is that DJ’s often do little more than get up on stage and hit “play.”
My little brother is a DJ, so needless to say he took offense, and posted a 3-minute rant video directed at Deadmau5 on YouTube. You can watch it yourself, or simply check out their back and forth in the comment section:
That deadmau5 came out to leave a comment is a pretty big deal, but obviously my little brother is still upset. So what’s this fight really about?
Content Creation vs. Curation
Let me define some terms: content creation is when you make an original work. Whether that’s a song, a video, a painting, a blog post, anything that is an original work that you or a team make. Even if you’re not a world famous artist, and even if you don’t have a YouTube channel, you probably still create your own work from time to time. Your tweets, for instance, are your own creations.
But not your retweets. When you share content online, you’re curating it. Finding other great sources of original content online and sharing it. Whether you’re doing it on Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter, today there are tons of great avenues to curate content online and become known for sharing it.
Deadmau5 is claiming that DJ’s fall into the second category, that all they do is play other people’s music. DJ Face, my brother, is claiming something more nuanced—that DJ’ing is a skill that takes elements of both categories and combines them into something new. That there are creation skills like scratching and mixing, but also curation skills like song selection.
If you subscribe to recent trends in how online videos works, however, you’ll discover that both content creation and curation are equally important.
Changes to YouTube and Socialcam promote curation
Recent changes to how YouTube subscriptions work have upset a lot of people who create videos for a living. In the old days, if you subscribed to a YouTube channel it meant that you’d see their videos in your feed on the main page of YouTube.com. Today, however, you see a whole lot more—not just videos, but things that people have “liked”, comments, shared videos—basically, every YouTube channel you subscribe to isn’t responsible just for making great videos, they’re now responsible for curating other videos online for you as well.
Why did YouTube make this change? At first, a lot of video producers were upset. Instead of viewers seeing their videos, they were seeing likes, comments, what was being added to playlists. It added a lot of noise, and decreased the visibility of their videos. But the change helps YouTube in two ways. First, it turns all of its video producers into curators who have to be very careful with what they “like” and comment on, since those social actions are now pushed to their feed. And for viewers who may not be subscribed to many channels, it exposes people to videos they might not see otherwise. In other words, while producers may see fewer views on each video, the ecosystem grows as a whole.
Socialcam recently started doing the same thing. If you “like” a video, it doesn’t just increase some arbitrary number on a server—now it pushes that “like” out to all of your subscribers. Here’s what it looks like:
At first, the Socialcam community was horrified! I saw tons of comments like, “How dare you publish my likes!” and “I want my old feed back!” Communities are resistant to change, for sure, and that contributed a lot to people being upset. But the change also marked a fundamentally new way that Socialcam works. At first, it was just people using their iPhones to make videos of themselves. As the platform has grown, users have seen explosive growth and in the past year several top brands have joined as well.
But these changes aren’t going away. Socialcam is turning its users into not just creators, but curators as well. If you’re only following, say, ten people on Socialcam, then you won’t see all that many videos. But if you are now being exposed to videos that other people like, suddenly, your feed is exploding in activity. There are tons of new videos for you to check out, and possibly subscribe to.
By turning content creators into curators, YouTube and Socialcam are able to grow their platforms, and get more people watching more videos.
How to leverage these changes in your business
If your business or brand has a video channel on YouTube or Socialcam, you can’t just ignore these changes and carry on as though its business as usual.