I just need to get this off my chest, so I can breathe again and get back to making things. My blood pressure has been up for the past 6 months now.
When my dust mask video went viral, I got several requests for permission to use it. I gave permission to everyone that asked. I also got several requests for mask sales collaboration and YouTube reminded me (again) that I was eligible for monetization*. It would be nice to get some cash coming in, but I’m going to do my thing broke or otherwise. During the heat of all this, an offer came that I took seriously.
I feel obligated to say that I did not make one red cent from the attention that video got. Money is not what motivates me. It was incredibly rewarding to have made something that so many people found useful, albeit by chance rather than design.
Voov Media found the video and sent me an email wanting to use my work on their platform. They were offering me 25% of the ad revenue. I looked them up and didn’t find much. They have a (low effort template) website, their instagram is dead, and their Facebook page is private. This gave me some concern. A little bit more digging revealed that they are/were successful enough that at some point Facebook wanted to buy the company. I took that as assurance that they weren’t just the same desperate and sleazy marketers as some of the others.
The agreement was straight forward and bare bones. I have been a contractor for years and I know what kind of traps to look for. I have written contracts myself. The most important thing that matters to me when I am evaluating an offer like this is the exit strategy. In this case:
“Either Party may terminate this Agreement, with or without cause, with immediate effect upon written notice to the other Party, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon.”
Good to go. If I don’t like what they’re doing, I can end it on a whim. This will come in handy if I ever pick up a real sponsor.
I signed their agreement the first week in May, and this is what they sent me:
“Thank you so much for confirming all necessary information and sending back your agreement. We have received the signed agreement. Please allow us up to 4 weeks to get your first video posted. We will notify you once it’s posted and follow up with a “Preferred Payment” form. You can expect payment at the end of every month, for the previous months earnings.”
Fast forward to May 31st, and I’m wondering where my “Preferred Payment” form is. More time passes but the virus has a stranglehold on the world, so I have other things to worry about.
June comes, and I get another email asking me again to sign an agreement. They are setting up a new portal for their content creators. Ok. I sign the new agreement and create an account. This is good. Now I can track what they’re doing.
But they’re not doing. I have no indication that they posted anything anywhere.
I found the FAQ on the new site and it says that creators are not only must alert Voov of new content, but it will also be “evaluated” before it will be posted. This is textbook bait and switch.
Near the end of October I sent them an email to complain. I got an automated response:
“We are looking into this matter and will get back to you shortly”
They didn’t do that either. About a week later, I sent them a very nasty email. I won’t repeat here what I wrote, but I’ll give you an idea of my opinion on companies like this:
Content creators CREATE things for other people and (sometimes) also to make money.
Content curators cannot exist without content creators, and necessarily depend on FINDING things that other people have created and USE them to make money.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.
I didn’t go looking for them. They came looking for me. And from where I’m standing, it looks like Voov Media is just another desperate and sleazy internet marketing company looking for a cash grab and making false promises.
*YouTube changed its criteria for monetization just as I had reached the benchmark for payout. I got the check, and then got kicked out of the program. I wasn’t too mad about that because it was an early goal of mine just to see it I could get there. The way to become successful is to set reachable goals and then try to achieve them. When my ticking stick video blew up, I became eligible again. I really don’t want to subject my audience to advertisements anyway, so I never turned my ads back on.