Behind millions of views, are YouTube editors picking up the crumbs?

“Power to the editors who haven’t slept for days to get you out of this madness”wrote youtubeur Amixem in the comments under one of his latest videos.

Usually working in the shadows, editors occasionally benefit from the spotlight, as in one of Squeezie’s latest videos where his editor Clément appears. Often recognized for their hard work, their working conditions raise questions.

Profession is “passion” through self-taught experience

If some have gone through a BTS edit like Mélanie, content creator and former editor, her case is far from universal. There is no recognized public school for YouTube editors, as there are in the film and audiovisual sectors. Some private organizations such as Oka Media offer training worth several thousand euros, which however only has an indicative value. YouTube editors are generally self-taught.

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Ace, editor for the Bolchegeek channel, started “like most, of AMVs”relating to anime music videos, clips made from animations synchronized to music. Like him, many people saw their YouTube channel as a CV. Bilou, editor for MisterJDay, has worked in the past for several successful channels. “One day, an established YouTuber asked me if I wanted to do some editing for him. It’s been my job ever since”detailed the latter.

If no diploma is required, however high the level of competence expected. The job requires both technical skill and creativity. Being a YouTube editor means knowing how to cut and keep interesting moments to exploit them in a way that makes the video watchable while mastering all kinds of formats, from vlogs to the best, through short films or even videos. in voiceover.

Matthieu from Le Coin du Bis channel, editor with Ace for Bolchegeek, explains that his knowledge of the film industry is valued by his employers. “Benjamin [Bolchegeek, ndlr] trust me to describe all parts of the cinema and bring extraordinary images.”

“A streamer who pays you 50 to 100 euros for a 10-minute video, you know what to tell him”

Movie editors work as entertainment workers. Their activity is governed by the National Collective Agreement for Audiovisual Production, which sets payment schedules and guarantees a legal limit of compensation according to the budget allocated to the film.

Nothing like this currently exists for YouTube editors. Often in freelance, their salary depends on the goodwill of the creator, regardless of the profits made by the latter.

If, for Bilou, his working condition is “ideal”this is mainly, according to him, because he has the opportunity to work for MisterJDay. “He cares a lot about my development. He never pushed me”he says.

In some cases, editors’ devotion to the YouTubers they admire can create ambiguous relationships. “We are in a kind of closeness akin to friendship.” Bilou even says that some creators will use it “enjoying their fitters” and “pay them with a slingshot”.

For example, Donay, editor for the Trash channel and videographer Josplay, works more than twenty hours per week for a minimum wage. The compensation seems appropriate but remains below the tariff schedules set by CNNET, and is far from being a special case”

In an August 2020 tweet, streamer AlphaCast wrote: “A streamer who pays you 50 to 100 euros for a 10-minute video, you know what to tell him.” He also advised novice editors to set their rates based on an hourly rate and not a video type.

Lilian R. worked for several months as an editor through a specialized company that put her in touch with content creators. He explained that the company itself set the compensation of the fitters, who were nevertheless freelancers.

“I gathered the best for Sardoche, I was paid 20 euros for five hours’ work.”

These rates “very low” is established according to the complexity of the assembly. The best of are considered, wrongly, as the least complicated videos to edit and therefore the lowest paid, regardless of the length of the video in question. Overall, all of Sardoche’s best videos have exceeded 50,000 views, with some even reaching a million views. A highly profitable visibility for the videographer as opposed to the investment in question…

A “crunch” mentality in the face of harsh algos laws

Working from home, and therefore often isolated, editors lack information on their rights to fight these abuses. Many also testify to the difficulty of complaining about this: “YouTubers talk. If there is a problem with a youtubeur, we are afraid to become persona non grata to others”Bilou said. “I have an example of a colleague who was editing for a famous youtuber who, when he asked for more money for his work, found out that he was telling others not to hire him.”

Conversely, the editors’ celebration of the videographers’ investment also poses a problem. Some, like Matthieu, see it as a normalization of “crunch” training. Common in the industry and video game studios, this term refers to the intense period of work that precedes the release of a game.

“When I see comments on networks declaring that editors don’t sleep, I think that even if it’s a way of showing that we’re hardworking, the fact that we’re killing ourselves at work to earn a little makes it less in our work”thought Donay.

Even more serious, these “platforms and how they work” WHO “dictate the rhythm”the visibility of videos subject to the strict laws of algorithms, which are not for television or cinema.

By asking its editors to condense ten hours of GP Explorer Twitch live into one weekend, Amixem forces other creators to align themselves with these grueling cadences for them . A “vicious circle” of the race for primacy on YouTube will begin, which will be more exposed in an event in which twenty-two of the most influential creators on the French-speaking platform will participate.

Although Florent Bodenez, editor for the channel with 8 million subscribers, precisely in a Twitter thread that this “crunch” is exceptional, this example introduces frequent practices for which editors “at the end of the line”, according to Ace, pay dearly.

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