From a hospital bed in British Columbia, one man is fighting as hard as he can to open the doors for independent musicians to go viral on YouTube.
Eleven years ago, Dana Durnford woke up in a hyperbaric chamber after a commercial diving accident, and has lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair and a hospital bed.
Durnford has spent his time since then collecting videos of musicians on YouTube. He currently has favorites and playlists encompassing 20,000 artists, most of them polished but still struggling to find a break. That break has become harder to find since YouTube de-indexed its music category after being taken over by Google.
It works like this: YouTube features various categories such as pets, politics, etc. In each category there are five sub-categories - top-rated, most commented, etc. But music is now its own separate category apart from the other videos, and those distinctions are gone.
Previously, you could, with enough high ratings, or comments, get to be featured in the top 100 fairly easily for the first 48 hours of your video. This upped your chances of going viral. Now, the music category, though it is split into genres, features nothing on the front page that could be considered independent.
"When YouTube de-indexed all musicians I realized how wrong this was," says Durnford. "This is supposed to be the biggest share site in the world."
In addition, YouTube used to give each of the 200-plus countries it's available in different ratings. You could rise to the top in Australia or Germany, but for music it is once again all-inclusive, eliminating a chance for musicians to succeed locally.
Durnford has been waging his campaign through petitions to YouTube, but also by showcasing videos that the public may be missing due to the overly corporate browsing set-up that YouTube is using for the music category. He also encourages artists not to place their videos in that category, and instead try to fit in another category that has better options for them to be showcased.
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"If you put your video in music, no one will ever find it," says Durnford.
The effort it takes for Durnford to record his videos letting artists know how YouTube has changed is enormous, involving a painful transfer from his bed to a wheel chair and a lot of rest afterwards. By his own admission he doesn't want to be doing it, and considers the job to be to big for a man with his injuries. Nonetheless, he continues.
It is beyond argument that YouTube is the frontier of music, a venue that lets musicians showcase their talents to an almost infinite audience and reach success independent of music labels. With the current set-up it utilizes, musicians are being denied that venue.