At about the same time that companies such as Nike and Sony began to realize the powerful potential that online creators had for them, a group of established personalities came together to create a guild to protect financial interests. and personal creators. Three years later, this group, the Internet Creators Guild (ICG), is closing.
The ICG began as a personal project of Hank Green, one of YouTube's most respected and admired creators, to create a centralized organization for people working online. The guild was supposed to educate creators, protect their interests and help them succeed on platforms that constantly changed their monetization methods. "There is no protection system for creators, many of whom have no experience in any industry, let alone the notorious entertainment industry," wrote Green at the time.
However, $ 60 a year and union-friendly language have never really made it. The guild has never revealed the number of its members and has struggled to interest the people it was supposed to represent.
"Creators with a wide audience often do not feel the need for support from a collective voice," the ICG board of directors wrote in a statement announcing the closure. "We believe these attitudes will change as our community faces new challenges. The antitrust sentiment is growing in the US and Article 13 is now threatening the foundation of digital creativity in Europe. "
The board said support was "diminished to the point where we could not keep our work active" and limited their ability to recruit new members.
Despite the closure, GCI's concerns are even more relevant years later. The guild says it's still concerned about networks and studios that use illegitimate copyright claims to remove "huge amounts of content," the record companies devoting 70% of each dollar spent on YouTube premium subscriptions, and brands asking creators to hide paid for referrals, making it harder for everyone to be paid fairly. (The edge contacted YouTube for comment, but the company did not respond at the time of publication.)
Anthony D'Angelo, the former executive director of the guild, also said that it was difficult to bring people together across several continents. The edge. Unlike the labor movements currently occurring in areas such as digital media and the technology sector, creators are generally isolated. The absence of this type of camaraderie detracted from the organization's attempt to fight for a safer front. While the struggles of traditional unions have immediate physical results (for example, requiring players to own a membership card before working on certain sets), online media do not have them.
"It's seen as a disadvantage for them, rather than by this incredible power," D'Angelo said. "The configuration of the space makes it more difficult for everyone to meet because they are not all on the ground."
Lead YouTube creators also felt that the guild was not doing enough to help creators. Many YouTube creators such as Lindsay Ellis and PhilosophyTube (who are often seen as part of YouTube's left-hand side called "BreadTube") specifically talked about the lack of movement on the side of the ICG to actually help creators, instead of simply raising awareness problems they face.
"One thing that Liberal groups tend to forget a lot is responsibility. be responsible to the people you are trying to help, "said Philosophy Tube in a video on the subject. "Not only in the sense that they can write you and share their reactions in a Slack group, but also in the sense that you give them the power to direct the movement and say: We're going to use this tactical and this. "
The ICG heard these concerns, said D'Angelo. He did not disagree, but explained that the concerns raised by Ellis and others did not explain why the GCI had failed. The reasons were more "nuanced, complex and internal". Part of that was unbelievably low membership – the numbers that D'Angelo refused to share with The edge. But the main reason was to try to convince the creators of YouTube that in a sector in perpetual mutation where nothing was certain, it was necessary to regroup within an organization. It is difficult to see the value of something if its existence seems ephemeral.
"It's only when they realize they have something to lose here that they will be motivated to unionize," D'Angelo said. "Because space is so atomized, it is difficult to develop that awareness and solidarity."
The fight is not over yet. The ICG may have disappeared, but D'Angelo is already starting to wonder what will be the next step to protect the creators of YouTube. The first conversation exchanges taking place with other guilds, including the Screen Actor Guild, SAG-AFTRA, have begun. (The edge contacted SAG-AFTRA for feedback.) People are migrating online faster and creating more full-time jobs that only exist on the Internet. D'Angelo said they needed to be protected. It's not because the ICG is shutting down that the fight ends here.
"The space needs health care. Fair contracts are needed, "said D'Angelo. "I am convinced that collective action is the only way to achieve these goals. There are many obstacles to translating this imaginary community into something that can change the world. Only when this conversation resumes and people realize, "We need to do something about it", based on a common material interest, is the key to mobilization. "