I spent the just-gone gloriously sunny bank holiday weekend in a windowless hall at the NEC, attending Makers Central, an event “bringing together thousands of makers from around the world, from crafters & inventors to hobbyist and artists to share their passion for all things creative”.
I’m none of those things, but was there because my teenage son is a budding furniture maker, who has set up a YouTube channel and uploads videos of himself making chairs, tables, and the like. He’s built up 10k plus subscribers, and, having switched on the monetisation options, is now earning respectable pocket-money from his passion.
I mention this not as an excuse to give a sad-dad plug for his son’s channel, but because three things struck me about the event.
Firstly, this event shows the positive impact YouTube can make. My son and many like him have found an outlet where none existed before, to demonstrate their skills, build a following and make money. This event, the first of its kind, would not have taken place without the thriving community which the platform has enabled to flourish.
Secondly, we talk about the death of advertising, but of course that’s nonsense. YouTube is entirely ad funded. Advertising remains huge, is growing and continues to fund great content – just the same as it ever did. The problem is that the professional publishing sector is taking what seems like an ever-decreasing slice of the advertising pie.
Thirdly, this event was put together by an entrepreneurial craftsman, who saw a community evolving and took a punt on it. Judging by the thousands of attendees and the obvious buzz and enthusiasm in the hall, it looks like he succeeded. Good for him, but I can’t help thinking a publisher should have got in there first.