YouTube Technical Problems Create Pissed Unpaid “Partner”

sxephilHe’s one of the most prolific YouTubers with more than 123,000 subscribers, daily comedic and topical rants, and he makes his primary income from YouTube’s “Partner Program.”

But Sxephil was so frustrated by YouTube’s technical problems — which he said deprived him of ad revenue — that he turned his daily rant toward the Google-owned video site, YouTube. YouTube provides him with shared advertising revenue that some estimate could amount to a 6-figure annual salary.

Last night (May 17), the YouTube Comedian noticed his recent videos lacked advertisements, and likened the glitch to someone arriving at work and finding their paycheck wasn’t processing. He has since removed that video, but his blog post “Bastards” shows a screen shot of his YouTube midget/prostitute video without ads.

It’s not yet clear if SxePhil removed his YouTube rant video because the site has resolved the issue, or whether it was a reaction to his viewers (some the YouTube’s community took issue with his perceived entitlement). He also might have had second thoughts about “biting the hand,” but his blog isn’t commenting about why the video was removed by him, or even if he removed it.

SxePhil, or “Phil DeFranco” (see also was not available at press time for his comments. But to be fair… I didn’t try to reach him (one of the joys of being a blogger instead of a journalist). I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him at a Washington, D.C. gathering, and his true personality is miles from his on-screen persona. I’ve heard the same observation from dozens of people, including a documentary film maker that agreed he’s the YouTuber whose real self is most unlike his on-screen persona.

Last night’s video not only blurred the lines between DeFranco (if indeed that’s his real name) and SxePhil (pronounced “es-exy-phil”). It also created an interesting bifurcation of opinion, which took place on the YouTube video’s comments, in private e-mails among the community, and in live Stickam discussions last night.

  • On one hand, Phil devotes most of his day to creating a short, daily video show. He’s paid only if people view his videos, and in direct proportion to those views. If Google fails to run the ads due to technical errors, both Google and Phil aren’t paid. Counter this to a television network that buys rights to a show and doesn’t sell or run advertising. My guess is the show’s producer is still paid. Another analogy would be a wholesaler that buys pottery from a local artist, and damages them all in a truck accident. Naturally the wholesaler would take the loss, while the artist would still be paid.
  • On the other hand, Phil reminded his audience that he’s paid by YouTube while many of them aren’t, which leads to inevitable (and often deep) resentment. Most YouTubers are hobbiests or at best part-time YouTubers (even the increasingly popular Michael Buckley “What the Buck” has a day job). Members of the community don’t like the idea of one YouTuber not needing a job, while they go to work each day. This resentment is not as true for audiences of television or movie stars, who are often paid for one film what many of us won’t make in a lifetime. But since YouTube has a grassroots community origin, the audience sees itself in an equal peer group with the creators — even when fellow creators are propelled to top rankings. When I first campaigned to be in YouTube’s partner program (with a NAPPY video I haven’t since watched), I felt that community ire and resentment. YouTube viewers begin to expect more from videos of paid creators (an odd entitlement since they’re not paying to watch), yet Phil’s rant was viewed as a pompous entitlement of its own. Interesting?

I’ll be interested in the comments on this post since the video’s gone and so are many of the public reactions. I imagine the common denominator would be that Phil has a right to his earnings, but it might have been more diplomatic to work “behind the scenes” to resolve the issue. That said, YouTube is a company, and companies run on company time. So sometimes the squeaky wheel gets oiled. Thoughts?

41 Replies to “YouTube Technical Problems Create Pissed Unpaid “Partner””

  1. You know… several other youtubers did the same thing when their partner accounts glitched. (applemilk1988 is one example, her video is still up)

    On top of my 9 to 5 and my 5 to whenever I finish, I also have a small ebay business… one time I put up an expensive watch for a client… and I guess it never made the queue… because the views on the watch never went up, it had no people watching it, and had no bids until the 6th day of the auction. Furious, I emailed ebay about it and their response was something to the extent of “Oh well, here’s your fees back! Try again!” I lost the client, his trust in ebay, and thousands of dollars in potential commissions.

    And you know what? Oh well. That’s why I have a real job. I don’t trust things that are commission or ad based in this economy. I live off my salary, and I buy things with my commissions. Online video is not residual nor is it continuous. Why the hell would you live off of it in the first place?

    If he’s making so much money, he should do what all my friends who are freelance, commission, or revenue based do… SAVE MONEY FIRST. PAY OFF CREDIT. PAY FOR COLLEGE. BUY REAL ESTATE. And be prepared to take that job back at Petco if you have to. Never quit your day job until you have enough to live off of for at least 3 months saved. NEVER. If you do, shut the hell up. Some of us are working here.

    Kids these days and their new-fangled incomes…

  2. My feeling is if you can make an income off YT videos… power to you, but be ready for the rug to get pulled out from under you.

  3. Psychomelody:
    I agree with you. Never put all of your eggs in one basket. I would love to freelance (I make jewelry), but I also have a family. I need health insurance, pension benefits, etc. I work to provide for my family ( my husband’s job offers lousy benefits). I would never consider counting on something as nebulous as YouTube for my living.

  4. OOOO I always love well written stuff about me. Just to clear some things up:

    1. All my eggs are definitely not in one basket, as there are multiple revenue streams I tap into and money is not a problem
    2. It was less of the fact that I am losing a very large sum of money, and more the fact that no one was contacting me back to let me know what was going on.

    3. I just expect professionals to act like professionals. At least fake it.

  5. phil if you come back here to read more well written stuff about you, can I just say FTR I think you’re a douche? Yeah, I’ll just say it, I think you’re a douche! I know, I know, you don’t care what I think, that’s okay, but please don’t go sending your lil’ toadies over here to droll all over you.

    As far as the vid, I think he set it to private – I don’t think youtube removed it, they just aren’t that organized or smart.

    and I don’t begrudge him making $ on/off of youtube and boobs, more power to him! And I think he’s okay as a partner, though I do wish he would do more useful and important things with his audience AND I don’t particularly care for knock offs. Okay, I take it back he’s only a half-a-douche.

  6. I find myself getting increasingly pissed off with the sense of entitlement I see around YouTube – not from people like SxePhil (whose videos aren’t my favourites, but he’s making an effort, he’s consistent, and clearly has lots of fans or just people who love to hate him – whatever), but from people who seem to think that YouTube should be a giant hippy commune where only people like Renetto have a ‘right’ to whatever negligible rewards there are to achieving some kind of YouTube fame.

    Psychomelody’s point is irrelevant – it doesn’t matter what financial or lifestyle decisions SxePhil is making in the background; it DOES matter if he’s made some kind of agreement with YT and then they screw him over by not fixing technical glitches that cause him to lose money.

  7. I’d like to add a few comments to some of your points:
    “Naturally the wholesaler would take the loss, while the artist would still be paid.”

    This depends on the TOD – why it’s best to have an agent or a lawyer work these details out. Remember, South Park’s Oh Canada!

    “Phil reminded his audience that heโ€™s paid by YouTube”

    Yeah, he spilled! Did he break the Partner’s Contract?

    Phillip DeFranco – Pisan!
    This is a tricky one, I caught the video, really by accident, and read the comments before he made it private (I assume), and there were quite a number of droolers, but look at the average age of his audience. Any resentment he faces comes with the persona he created, I think he realizes that. Was it a jump the shark moment for him? Hard to tell because of the way he set this whole thing up. I have to wonder if he’s driving a fast car or just doesn’t care how fast he drives, but I do think he knows he’s lucky and that this is all a big flash in the pan. I think he’s a pretty smart guy, will eventually finish his degree and do something far more useful and important. It’s hard not to consider his age in the mix of all this, he seems much older than he really is, which is why I think he knows it will have to end sooner than later. I hope he chooses to goes out on top. You Tube, well, they’re a corporation, cold, calculating and heartless, there isn’t much to say about them; and their history has demonstrated that they are more willing to eat you up and spit you out based, always, on the bottom line. Again, I think Phil knows this and I think he’s lucky to have the support he does by those around him, even though he needs to get some mom-therapy, (um… who doesn’t?) I also think his girlfriend, who clearly cares for him, is A LOT younger than he is and I hope he thinks about that a little more in the future.

    This is all a great and grand experiment; everyone is new, naive and testing the waters. What will last, as it always does, is quality. It’s what you want to leave in the minds of those who watch that counts. Then again, people still watch Gilligan’s Island and voted for Bush TWICE so what do I know?!

  8. Sorry sgw555, but everything I say is relevant. What is irrelevant is that you’re taking some sort of strange reality into your logic that I do not understand….

    Phil, even though my first comment was directed at people in general, now that you’re here I must say bringing up personal problems with Youtube to your subscribers was not professional.

    Don’t be a Renetto. At least stick to your words and act like a professional.

    Work on it and I’ll buy you lunch someday.

  9. Of all the things to complain about concerning youtube, THIS is the thing he chooses to rant about? How about the fact that the comments are fucked up again? How about the fact tat the spam problem still exists? How about the fact that every time youtube decides to do some “maintenance,” it fucks up another functionality?

    This was something to be resolved with youtube privately. Never forget – personal rants are almost always gonna come back and bite you in the ass.

  10. Well said, sukatra. Airing personal beefs with your “boss” in front of the whole company is never a good idea.

    I kinda like SxePhil’s videos, and am often intrigued by the “news” stories he chooses to highlight. That having been said, I rarely, if ever, comment on his videos. I don’t know why; I just don’t. Other YouTubers garner more interest and comments from me.

    I am not surprised, however, that he is well paid by YT; he fits the demographic. There aren’t that many people like me on YT; women of a “certain age” with grown children. Ok, sukatra; make your jokes.

  11. Hey Nalts, the Sxephil issue brings up something that the You Tube Community may have to consider. At least those in it for the money. Understand that there are many of us who are not, we are in it for other reasons including the message so the money is not an issue.

    Several years ago, I made the rounds on several TV/radio networks including O’Reilly on radio, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets. My first guest spot, however, was the David Brudnoy (now deceased) Show on WBZ Radio 1030 am, famous for being heard in 38 states. Brudnoy claimed to me that his audience was 300,000. I received more reactions from that show than any of the other venues which are national and/or international.

    Now, Phil’s latest video was viewed at this writing by over 300,000 with reaction from over 5000. Any of the venues I mentioned would be quite happy with those numbers. Especially since it is for only 5 minutes and it is confirmable. (Let’s face with all the demographics Google has on us, they can probably tell when any of our viewers go to the bathroom. Something that WBZ could never do. )

    So Phil has a point, but if he let’s it go to his head, it will kill his show and following, but he has a legitimate gripe if they are not taking his financial issues and their responsibility to it seriously.

    Yet, he needs to address it correctly, or he will, as they say “win the battle and lose the war.” That begins by addressing the issue with Google appropriately and not with his viewers. A lesson for all youtubers in what laundry not to wash in public may be in order by studying the worst mistake on radio: The Firing of Julius LaRosa on the air by Arthur Godfrey and CBS.

  12. Marilyn, I suspect I would be included in the category of “women of a certain age.” The only difference between you and me is that I waited around for prince charming for so long that by the time I adopted Hank, I was already 40. That damn prince charming. I’d like to kick him in the nuts.

  13. Well, sukatra, I married my “prince charming” at 30 and had my first kid at 32, 2nd at 34; it was considered a “high-risk” pregnancy at the time due to my age.

    Now my kids are all growed up (at least, they think so), both in college, but still being supported by me & “prince charming”, although they aren’t young enough for us to have gotten an additional $300 in “stimulus” payments from Uncle Sam. ๐Ÿ™

    Anyway, my marriage gave me 2 beautiful boys, but sometimes I wonder if I’d have been better off taking your route to motherhood!:)

  14. I’m not an active member of the YouTube community (i.e. I do not post a lot of videos), but like most YouTube fans, I am a huge fan of a few people on the site and I comment and do chat with some of the YouTubers on a regular basis.
    Phil certainly has come a long way since I first started watching him in the summer of 07, and I do respect him for making his way up to the top of YouTube and earning a descent income from it (among other things).
    His rant against YouTube may have not been the best choice, but I’m sure it did stir the pot a little. (Which is what he wanted to get the problem resolved)
    I do think Phil is a fine entertainer, and he does so in order to make a discussion which relates to the majority YouTube crowd.
    Cheers to Phil.
    Cheers to Nalts also for starting this discussion and giving us a good insight.
    ps. I promise to stop talking with so many damn parenthesis. :]

  15. I had noticed that the ads stopped on my videos and checked around and saw that they had stopped on others. But as the ads have returned on some partners (the bigger fish), I have only one video that shows ads, whereas before, all of my revenue sharing videos had ads.

    I wrote YouTube partner support and got this reply:

    “We’ve recently made some changes to our system which may have affected ads on your videos. We thank you for your patience as we continuously improveour systems.

    Factors which may affect if and when ads are shown include the length and content of the video, the time/day of the week you submit the video for revenue sharing, the number of views on your video, and the number of advertisers that are interested to display their ads on your video. Even after a video is approved for revenue sharing, we do not guarantee that ads will always be available for your video.

    Thanks for your understanding,”

    So apparently it isn’t just a technical glitch, but a change in the way ads are distributed among videos. I’ve noticed a number of partners with a smaller viewer/subscriber base (like me) who still don’t have ads appearing on their vids.

    It’s not a big deal to me. At the rate I accumulate YT dollars I get more from taking my change from my sock drawer to the coin machine. But if I am not going to make anything from it, I’d rather not take the extra step to submit the video for revenue sharing.

    I have no problem with people who get large numbers of views getting the most money. That is how capitalism works. More power to Phil (the other one) and you and Zipster and Michael Buckley, etc. You work hard at YouTube and are successful at it.

  16. Fantasticbabblings,

    They are hashing out BS excuses left and right. They gave me one that just oozed of IDKWTF is going on.

    I guess we’ll all just wait.

  17. I don’t think what Phil did was wrong or unprofessional. This is You Tube – it’s cutting edge, it’s telling the big guys, even the one’s who send you a check; or anyone else, where to get off, and if that’s what your about on You Tube, then Phil is doing his job.

    This isn’t like the office at some insurance company. Phil’s days are numbered like anyone else in the entertainment industry. When people get tired of him he’ll change or leave.

    I see You Tube acquiring advertisers from the content Partners put on their site, but You Tube has no loyalty to these Partners once their contract is up, that’s very clear. Phil apparently makes money off the ads rather than a straight salary, it’s a business deal in a very volatile market, pure and simple You get, “I’m angry and in your face” from him and You Tube gets ad revenue, markets and a big reputation for more ad revenue, markets and a bigger reputation. Everybody’s happy, even the people who get pissed off, are happy to get pissed off. You Tube is an entertainment service that provides a variety of services, even the Jerry Springers. Don’t like what he does, this is American! Change the channel! Hide your children! Take responsibility!

    His approach is at least honest in that way. What the viewer gets in return is to laud him, bitch at him or call him a sexist pig. It’s his brand, it’s what he’s selling, and that’s all that matter to me today May 18th, 2008 :p

  18. Hiroshi Teshigahara’s “Otoshiana” (1962) covered this subject of capitalist’s murderous manipulation of the masses very well. Why are we so surprised, lost souls?

  19. I hear that George Bush is personable too. Doesn’t impress me.

    Since this thread started with talk of SxePhil’s video rant and has wound up being about murderous manipulation, I must ask if I missed something. Did Phil kill somebody?

  20. How’s this scenario: Youtube ran out of advertising to put with all Partners’ videos. Just ran out. Couldn’t sell any. The economy is down. Advertisers pinching pennies. The revenue-sharing era is coming to a close.

  21. first thing that goes in a depressed economy is all the fun stuff…

    cable gas cable gas cable gas food!

    The republicans made a big mess and the democrats want to get elected, this might be a bit of a bumpy ride.

  22. Well I heard that Youtube is going to outsource their video content to India to cut out all the Partners completely. Think 5,000 videos a day from Apoo.

  23. OMG this was a fun comment thread to catch up on. Thanks- it was either this or watch a really bad Disney show with my son.

  24. Well, at least now understand Y my ONLY subscription in YouTube is gone. Miss ya Phil! Good luck in your future endeavors. I don’t get as excited to log into YouTube anymore looking for your sage beyond your years clips.

  25. i think May’s ad revenue must have gotten fucked up. my earnings from youtube were down something crazy like 75%, despite having more views in may than in april.

    like a lot of other commenters here have pointed out, it’s (yt partner program) just one of those things were i can’t really complain too much cause its not like they *have* to give us anything. still a bummer for my broke ass though…

  26. The answer, he explained, is to go take your test in the suburbs – Rita’s suggestion, and, I’ve now learned in an unexpected way, a feasible one. ,

  27. I sometimes wonder why I applied for partner sometimes. I was testing YouTube’s audioswap so that probably messed with some technical issues. I don’t really have a high attention span so I’m not too worried about the ads. The frustration comes from expectations. Expecting too much is a real dream breaker.

Comments are closed.