I loved YouTube. I really did. It was always there for me, during thick and thin, and never once raised his voice. But now, the bastard is beginning to piss me off.
Back in 2006 or 2007, I was invited by one of the founders or higher-ups at YouTube to become one of the first YouTube Partners. As a YouTube Partner, I was suddenly able to post videos of unlimited length, and I was also able to monetize my videos by allowing advertising in them. This was a fantastic opportunity, and I would receive checks from Google every now and again.
Then I was invited to showcase the feature-length documentary about me called “Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere” as one of the first YouTube Spotlight videos. One of the founders or higher-ups was a fan of mine, and loved the doc, and was excited to share it. I was a great and historical honor.
Life with YouTube went along fine until I realized a lot of other filmmakers were signing up with official channels and their brands were being used to name the channel. When I signed up with YouTube, it had just started, so I used an email address I only engaged for online Christmas shopping. So the name of my channel was called “pipistrello2004.” There wasn’t an option to call it “Dikenga Films” at the time.
I contacted the Head Honcho YouTube guy who invited me to become a Partner and for the video Spotlight honor and he told me that there was no way I could just change the name of my channel. That if I wanted to set up a new channel, I’d have to re-upload all my videos, lose the view count numbers, and all that. I was bummed. But, I decided to just keep the pipistrello2004 name as the Channel name and figured no one really cares anyway.
Life went on, new movies were made, new videos were uploaded, and then YouTube started fiddling around with Google, and then suddenly the whole site was different. Google Adsense, links, emails, channels, names, networks, blah blah blah. It was enough to confuse anyone, so I just stayed out of it. (Sometimes its best to let your significant other just act like a brat so you can get on with dinner).
Recently, I realized that the Google checks had stopped coming. And the other day, I noticed that some of my videos were not being monetized. I went to the Video Manager, clicked “Claiming Options” (so I could claim copyright for my videos), and then selected the go-ahead for monetization. And when I clicked “Save” I got a Server Error. So my recent videos were not able to be copyright claimed or monetized. Even though all my earlier videos from 2006-2008 were being monetized.
I went to my gmail account to search my history in order to locate the Head Honcho YouTube guy’s email address. Then I noticed that YouTube’s owner, Google, for some reason, limits email history, and because I have so many messages going in/out each year, my gmail database does not go back far enough. So I was unable to locate Head Honcho’s email address, which is why I can’t remember his name.
You might figure, as I did, that I could just call up YouTube customer service and tell them my issue and find a solution. Well, guess again. Being a special YouTube Partner might sound special, but it clearly doesn’t mean anything.
There is no such thing as YouTube customer service. Not even for the Partners. One has to post public messages on the help boards, or weed through endless, and totally worthless FAQ lists on the help pages. And yes, while I can see that there is such a thing as a Frequently Asked Question, I’m pretty sure that my question isn’t frequent. How often does YouTube get a question or concern from one of the original YouTube Partners who was able to monetize their videos BEFORE anyone else was able to?
I’ve tweeted @YouTube, and posted dozens of things to the Help Boards, and while certain people have been extremely nice – none of them work at YouTube and they can’t actually help me.
EVERY major company has a customer service phone line. Well, EVERY company except YouTube and the stupid IMDB, which is owned by Amazon.
So it is with great sadness, I’m thinking about aborting YouTube all together and moving in with Vimeo, who has been very kind to me thus far. I can post videos on Vimeo on demand and charge for them (brilliant!) and also there’s a thing called a “Tip Jar” that allows fans to donate something small to show their gratitude. Plus, videos on Vimeo just look better. She’s a real peach.
In this world of the new Black Market distribution of all things entertainment, I feel abandoned and betrayed by YouTube. Perhaps one day I’ll get an email from a human being at YouTube who can help me. But, until then, I’ll just be thankful I don’t work there. Can you imagine how miserable the internal bureaucracy is in a conglomerate like that when its customers are going through it too?