The #YouTubeHonestyHour Panel was held on the Sunday of Summer in the City in Panel Room A. The panel featured creators including Daniel J Layton, Hazel Hayes, and Emma Blackery. It was chaired by Teoh Lander-Boyce.
The panel, which was exceptionally packed and rowdy, was an extension of the #YouTuberHonestyHour hashtag which popped up on Twitter a couple of months ago. Teoh had made a slideshow collecting various tweets connected to some of the issues addressed during that late-night hashtag fiasco.
The first topic that was discussed was whether big-time YouTubers are still putting effort into their videos, and what they owe their audience. Emma was first to jump in, saying “I think there quite a few YouTubers that don’t really think about their videos anymore. They just think, ‘That’ll get a couple million views, I’ll bring my girlfriend into it’. But I do think there are a lot of YouTubers that still do put a lot of effort in – even people you may not have heard of.”
This topic led into whether YouTubers are sell-outs or not for taking sponsored deals. “You know what, we have to pay the rent,” Emma began. “We do have to earn money because we have been lucky enough to quit our full-time jobs and we do this for a living. Everyday is a fucking gamble in a way.” She went on to express her fear that if she were to get a ‘real job’, people would turn up at her place of work which would be an inconvenience and unfair to others who worked there as well.
Dan jumped in at this point: “I see what you’re saying, but I do have a full time job.” He then went on to refer to a tweet on the screen that said to just do YouTube because you love it. He said, “It’s very difficult to live – I’ve got to name drop – with Jack Howard and TomSka and see numbers and not feel inferior. But at the start of this year I just kind of said ‘Fuck it’ and started to make content just because I liked it, it’s started to go up. I think you can do a #spon and also love what you made. But with the real job thing, it’s difficult to combine working full-time in retail with doing YouTube, so you have to love it.”
From there, the YouTube algorithm was discussed, in connection to a tweet Hazel had made about video quality. She defended her tweet, which had gotten some backlash, by clarifying, saying “I think some of the bigger YouTubers took offense and thought I was having a go at them. I genuinely wasn’t, I was actually having a go at YouTube and the algorithm. The way it’s set up is that you get rewarded for views, you get rewarded for subscribers, and for uploading constantly which means that you can’t necessarily make what you want to make if that takes time. The only thing you can really do is make daily vlogs, but I don’t want to make daily vlogs.”
Similarly, the idea of YouTubers needing management and a team behind them seemed to raise a reaction from the audience. Hazel put it very eloquently when she said, “I think anyone who doesn’t look at YouTube like a business is very naive. Like any new startup, you’re going to eventually take on staff and expand. You need help with admin and emails and negotiating deals. You essentially need help with life so that you can spend more time creating content for your audience.”
Unsurprisingly, the Summer in the City/AmityFest debacle came to light during this panel, which got quite a reaction out of the audience and an interesting debate between the panellists. Emma began by saying, “Like when YouTubers say they are too busy planning other events but you follow their Twitter and they say they are seeing their grandmothers or something? I think, to be honest, it doesn’t need us to call them out on their shit, you can see how shitty those people can be. To be honest, if you’re going to have that attitude maybe you’re better off not being here.”
Hazel jumped in there, “Hold on, hold on…”
“This is not about a certain group, this is a general… There will be people who are now doing other things that coincide with these events and that doesn’t mean they don’t give a shit,” Emma continued. “There are some people who turn up because they feel like they have to. There are some people who won’t turn up unless they are paid and to be honest with you I have stopped caring about that side of it. I’ve stopped getting defensive over it. I just focus on the fact that you guys [the audience] are here, we’re here, and having a fun fucking time and that’s what matters.”
“Why is this like Voldemort? Why can’t we say AmityFest? What is wrong with us, this is insane!” Hazel exclaimed, to loud cheers. “I do think though, going back to the whole ‘This is a business’ that in some cases, some people do come to things like this and they can’t even walk around and they can’t enjoy the experience because they’ll get mobbed. So it’s come to the thing of instead of standing and greeting people in a line for three hours, I can do my own thing and give that person a better experience. Having gone to Louise Live, she put on such an amazing show and put so much effort into it. Props to Louise.” To which the crowd, again, erupted into screams.
Teoh then asked about YouTubers’ personalities online versus in real life. “Without naming any names,” he said. “Do you think it’s true that—”
“Yes, some of them are complete cunts,” Emma was quick to say. “I’m not naming names, but there are some absolute nasty people who won’t talk to you and make you feel fucking small.”
“I’m definitely not going to sit here and talk names,” Jack Dean said, “but there was one experience I had with a YouTuber who would, on Facebook, constantly ask me to collab and I always said no because that’s not really what I’m about. Then I came up with an idea for a series and so I said to this person, I’m cool to collab if you want. The reply I got was ridiculous. Just because his subscriber count had just surpassed mine he said ‘no, don’t want to do it’.”
Ben added that he felt it was patronising to the audience to say that they didn’t recognise that people would be different online. “Most of you know that when a camera is put on you, you behave differently. We’ve all had that experience and the same with a YouTuber. They are going to be different off-camera. They are going to have whole chunks of their lives they don’t want to share with you and audiences know that.”
The hour passed quickly and, following the panel, Twitter ignited with tweets praising the honesty and candid conversation between all of the panellists, with many not in attendance expressing their disappointment for missing it.
Photos: Michael Dean
Want More From Summer in the City 2015?
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