Tyger blog, departing Channel Awesome, & the future of the River Otter Cycling Club

I debated if this was the best place for this kind of post, but seeing as it's the only public place I've got other than an unused Tumblr page, this made the most sense.  So bear with me cycling fans, both of you will have a bit of news near the end.

Let's start from a long time ago.  I started "WOWTF" in 2012 or so to make social commentary about video game culture.  After a few interesting e-mails, I changed the name to "MUD2MMO", which I figured would cover all of gaming.  I ran that show for years as a "for fun" project, then things got very real when "Channel Awesome" (Formerly "That Guy with the Glasses") held an open casting call for new talent.  And, for some reason, they chose me to join the site.

The first video on the site was about "Skinner Box Gaming", and it was met...  well it was met.  I don't think that the gaming community knew what to do with this kind of a show.  Most of the response was good, but it just didn't get the traction of other shows because, well it's critiquing gamers indirectly.  And apparently, gamers don't like being criticized or critiqued.

 Gamers reacting to light criticisim

Gamers reacting to light criticisim

I spent the next few years doing MUD2MMO mostly quietly, gaining a core audience but an audience that didn't really grow.  Now to be fair, I didn't expect that being on "Channel Awesome" would mean automatic millions of subscribers and views.  I told people even at the time that getting on the site wasn't the finish line, it was a start line.  And the show was good, but it wasn't to the flavoring of the "hardcore gamer" crowd.  After a few years of no real growth, I figured I had to change something up.

I talked with the people at Channel Awesome about altering formats, and with the green light I did.  I started a new channel and show called "Live on Film", a show reviewing concert films.  This may seem totally opposite of the gaming material, but it really isn't for people who know my background in mass media

I knew it would take a few videos to "find he voice" of the show, but I don't think I hit the stride at all.  Reason being the problem with Youtube and copyright.  Every video was hit with an auto-flag DMCA claim.  I actually made a cut-and-paste response and would just slap that onto every auto-flag.  And without fail, the claim would vanish...  a month later.

See, companies don't really CARE about the content, they just auto-flag and hope it's enough to scare off the wannabees.  When challenged, the vast majority let the claim die rather than admit fault and immediately release the claim.  This also goes for EVERY COPYRIGHT STRIKE I've ever gotten.  I fought, and WON, every copyright claim because I know fair use laws.  But, in each case, the party claiming the video rights would just let it sit for the 30 days before Youtube dropped the claim (and the channel strikes)

What this means is that you can't make money on youtube.  The rush of views comes in the first 24-48 hours, and all someone has to do to kill your monetization is to DMCA the video in that window and boom, the money goes to them.  "But, what about Youtube's escrow?"  What about it?  In practice they don't do this with small channels, they just hold the money for themselves then claim all the views a video got don't count while the video is in dispute.  I've lost almost all my ad revenue from Youtube because of their bad practices on small channels.

Then in August I embarked on an ill-fated 2 month bike trip from Seattle, WA to Milwaukee, WI.  Ill fated becasue I had to pull out after 2 weeks due to injury.  I got home to nurse my injuries, only to find the Youtube situation was worse.  Then around December Patreon pulled it's stunt of changing the way they worked, which made me lose a lot of supporters so I just pulled the plug on that too rather than let my supporters get fleeced.

The end result was that I had pretty much lost all desire to make "geek / nerd content".  I mean why should I bust my tail for 40+ hours a week for pennies, a couple of internet "likes" and a page full of angry respondents who disagree with me so strongly they wish for my death?  And in the last few days it's come to light that Youtube actually plays favorites, and doesn't share all your uploads with all of your subscribers.  So what's the point?

Which brings me to Channel Awesome.  I've been talking with them since last summer about this and other things that sapped my creative drive.  The death of my Father to Pancreatic Cancer was bad enough, dealing with his widow (not my Mother, his WIDOW) has been taxing to say the least.  This final blow was her "salting the earth" tactic of holding hostage then ultimately destroying or throwing away family heirlooms because we didn't give her enough money.  That was a year long struggle that we're still dealing with fallout from.

With all the stress, the lack of payment from Youtube, and so on, I'm parting ways with Channel Awesome.  And I know the timing of this will come across as "OMG DRAMMAZZZ!!" but this isn't a knee-jerk snap decision, and definitely not one I took lightly.  What it boils down to is that I was brought on to bring a specific kind of content to the site, and I just don't have it in me to do that content anymore.  It's not fair to Channel Awesome to hold an illusion that "someday" I might go back to it when in my heart I know that I'm pretty much done.

Channel Awesome gave me a break, something they didn't need to do.  They had THOUSANDS of people (a lot of whom are a LOT more talented than me) submit videos for an open casting call, and I made a very short list of people who got into a popular site.  And I'm grateful for the opportunity, and I thank them for that.  I wish them, and the other producers who are on the site, all the best.

And that brings me to the here and now.  Because people will say "well, now what?"  Back in November I began planning for a season of riding that would be deemed as "epic", and I think I got it down.  Check the calendar page for details but I've got a massive tour schedule for the upcoming 2018 season.  The one thing that I've found any kind of peace in lately has been on two wheels, so I'm following that.

The ROCC youtube channel will have most of these events on it, as well as other shows that I want to do that are cycling related.  I want to do some videos like "Ask a cyclist" and product reviews of gear and so on.  My new focus for this year is to make stuff that I want to make.  If there's demand (HA!) I'll re-open my patreon page, if I get the minimums I may even get partnership back, but that's not my goal.  My goal is to make stuff that I want to make, and to ride my bike in a way that both makes me happy and inspires others to get off the couch and do something.

So there you have it.  Make if it what you will.  My first event is about a week away down in Illinois, a mixed tarmac / gravel event that looks to be a cold one.  I'll let you all know how it went.  Stay tuned, see you out there.