YouTube News: Member-Only Videos, New Studio Beta, and More

Barbara brought us a new Creator Insiders video today - an interview with Muli from the Channel Memberships team about some upcoming changes to the program.

“Members-Only Videos” is now a feature for channels with Channel Memberships available. This is a publicity status like Unlisted, Private, and Public, which restricts viewing to only those who have joined the Channel Memberships for the specific channel the video is uploaded to. If other viewers find the video, they will be presented with a “You must join Channel Memberships to view this video” message instead.

This helps creators who use Channel Memberships for exclusive content or early access to videos to share exclusively with their Members without the worry of anyone else finding the content.

This kind of feature sort-of actually existed back when Google+ was integrated with YouTube via Private videos. Private videos could be shared with other people by adding their Google Account (via email) to the video, and with Google+ you could add entire “Circles” (or lists/groups of people you created from your friends or subscribers in Google+) to Private videos. So you could manage an “early access squad” Circle in Google+ and then share videos privately to them.
All of that has gone away with the removal and shutdown of Google+ and now in the Studio Beta you can’t even share Private videos with anyone else, but it’s interesting to see the context of how these features evolve.

When you set a video to “Members only (beta)” in the video manager of the Studio Beta, upon saving a popup will appear asking if you wish to “release this video to members” by posting it as a Members-only Community Tab post and takes you right to that page. This is pretty handy.

One recommended idea to utilize this feature is to create a public Playlist with all of their Members-only videos and feature that on their channel page up top. This showcases the exclusive content to everyone, and thus helps drive more people to join via Channel Memberships so they can access that content.

While this functionality is an obvious must-have to make Channel Memberships effective and useful for many, there is an inherent problem for creators don’t wish to be stuck with just YouTube as their option. Common creator business advice says “you should never put all your eggs in one basket” - and establishing monetization and fan funding options off of YouTube is a much smarter idea than purely relying on YouTube ad revenue and their supplemental revenue options. (Though they are a good thing to finally be implementing - keep in mind this is at least their third attempt at establishing such revenue tools, each previous iteration being scrapped - that still keeps you dependent on YouTube alone and thus is problematic to rely solely on.) If you mirror your fan funding tiers and benefits from Channel Memberships to other platforms such as Patreon, GameWisp, Ko-Fi, etc. then using Members-only videos becomes difficult. Typically this is done by sharing an Unlisted video on these platforms.

To work around this, you’d need to either have a secondary channel where you upload this content as Unlisted to share to these platforms, or upload two different copies (which would have to have something different about them since YouTube will reject exact duplicate uploads) and have one be locked to Members-only and one be Unlisted for Patrons, etc. 

Again, this is a great and useful feature, but may get logistically messy for some creators like myself who wish to make all options available to viewers.

Muli stated that the team is working on testing Members-only live streams in the coming months and hopes to roll that out as a feature for everyone by the end of the year.

Another suggestion is made to utilize bloopers and the “content that doesn’t make it into the video” for Members-exclusive content instead of stressing a lot about making more content.

What remains unclear (many comments ask about it) is if there are plans to allow creators to set up an automated scheduled post to make a video go from Members-only to Public at a certain date and time, for early access content. This was discussed as a use case and seems like an obvious feature. (Though you can do that with Tubebuddy’s Scheduled Publish tool!)

The duo quickly brushed over another important update that just dropped today: There’s a new Studio Beta Upload (beta) page! (Yes I worded that oddly because seeing “(beta)” behind every feature in a UI that, itself, is in beta is a tad confusing.)

This page appears as a pop-up overtop the Studio Beta and lets creators manage all of the usual information about a video while it uploads. 

Tags, interestingly enough, have been moved to the “Advanced settings” part of this interface, a bit hidden. This further backs up the growing rumors that YouTube is no longer utilizing tags for much of anything on the platform. They’ve gone from a very important SEO tool to basically being an afterthought that affects a tiny bit of the “algorithm” and mainly just helps test for misspellings in searches. 

On the last step of this process, creators are prompted with a brief checklist about following the guidelines for YouTube content - specifically whether or not minors appear in the video and reading the Community Guidelines. Creators can then preview the entire video, once processed, and copy out a link to share right here before finalizing the metadata. I would have liked to see some social “share” buttons here, for convenience.

One complaint that I have, which I have for all of this Studio Beta UI experience, is that the text boxes (Description, mainly) are not resizeable and are now quite small, which makes managing long-form text quite annoying. Another is that the “Playlists” selection is no longer searchable and doesn’t populate all of my playlists, so I can’t actually add my videos to playlists anywhere except the watch page (in most cases).

If desired, creators can still upload with the Classic Studio upload page with the button at the bottom, for the time being.

I have a full video walking through the Studio Beta and everything you need to know about it (other than Analytics) including the new uploader available here.

That’s it from me! Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Tech educator, '90s and '00s Nostalgia Nerd, Pixel and Framerate Junkie. 12 years on YouTube is a loooong time.

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