The Life And Times Of A Traveller

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Rise And Fall Of A YouTube Channel

Originally published August 16 2010

A Business Case Study

There is a normal life-cycle for everything, be it flora, fauna, ideas, business, government, countries, planets, stars, matter, anti-matter, whatever. Birth and death, construction and destruction, rise and fall, the inevitable cycle reigns true for everything.

What I would like to do here - and I don't know if it will be successful or unsuccessful (another natural cycle of life) - is perform a study of a YouTube Channel as a business case. I had this idea quite some time ago. I typed the idea out on a Notepad page last year and saved it, but never found anything that fit my criteria. And then recently I was cruising the YouTube music category, doing my playlist thing, searching for one of my favourite songs - Ballroom Blitz by Sweet. I never accept the first search listing that comes up for any particular song on YouTube. I always scroll down the list and try out different videos until I find the one I want to save. So I was doing that for Ballroom Blitz, and this is what I came across:

Ballroom Blitz

I considered how many views the video had received, so I thought it might be worth checking out. I was immediately hooked into the video. If you have already figured out that you can click on the image above to see the video, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, do it now, then come back .. I'll wait.

What you see is a lovely teenage girl, very talented, with huge big eyes and a very flexible jaw that allows her to use her face to express every emotion known to woman. What is really important to notice is how she uses this talent to interpret the emotions of the music so accurately. It adds so much to the enjoyment of the song itself. And remember, this was her very first YouTube video, her very first kick at the can, and it was nominally successful. Nothing like the vids that go crazy viral, but very respectable nonetheless.

So I thought, OK, here is a person that is intelligent, imaginative and talented, not just a pretty face. I went to her channel and discovered that she had more than 100 videos uploaded over 4 years and was getting lots of views to them. This was the critical mass of video/viewership I had been looking for.

When you go to the upload list of a channel, there are links at the top which allow you to see the list under different criteria - Date Added | Most Viewed | Top Rated. When I clicked on Most Viewed, I noticed that the highest on the list were older videos, and the least viewed were newer videos. You may say, "Well DUH .. of course the newer videos would have the least views, they haven't been up as long as the older ones". Normally true, but that isn't the way YouTube works. The people who have a successful channel build up viewership - subscribers - over time, so a video on a popular channel can get a few hundred thousand views in a day, easy. So why has the viewership of the videos on this channel gone down over time?

That's what I want to answer in this business case study. The YouTube channel which is the subject of this study is Kindergoth, who is also known as Kaitlin Moore of British Columbia, Canada, now 20 years old and attending university. I'm not giving away her private information. If you watch all the videos, this information trickles out and does, at that point, become public information. And if you do the math, yes, she was 16 when she hit the airwaves with "Ballroom Blitz Mania!".

The Channel Name

In 2006, when she opened her YouTube account, she chose the channel name, Kindergoth. Here is a definition of that term from The Urban Dictionary:

Though generally female, not always the case. Kindergoths are anyone, usually younger than 16, who listen to music which isn't gothic, when asked don't really know much about gothic subculture, and are pretty much unaware of the post modern gothic movement or the romantic gothic movement as a whole. Yet a kindergoth will *always* claim to be "gothic" or "goth". This is really the biggest difference between what gothic elitists may see as a kindergoth, and what the rest of us non-ubergoths see as a kindergoth. A kindergoth to most people is simply someone who calls themselves gothic, but doesn"t know anything about the subculture, in particular nothing about the music.

Kaitlin was trying to project a Goth image, but she really wasn't Goth. I believe that she knew full well what a "kindergoth" was when she adopted that name for her channel, even though she perhaps didn"t realize it in March 2006. There is a very telling moment in her video "Sunny Days" [May 24 2007] where she admits that she isn't really Goth. You can view the clip here: SunnyDays6Clip

The problem is she never did, nor ever will, own the term "Kindergoth". Even though she has been using it for 4 years with some success on her YouTube channel, she doesn't get any love from the search engines. When I searched Google (who else?) for the term, her channel listing only appeared 3 times out of the first 100. That is because "Kindergoth" is owned, in every sense of the word, by Bloodfire Studios, or more directly by Mr. Lee Kohse, who created the comic character "Kindergoth" in 1996. Kaitlin never stood a chance of getting good traffic from search engines to her YouTube channel.

The lesson here is - when you want to establish an identity, a presence on the Web, you must thoroughly research the identity you want to develop before you launch it into cyberspace. I had that very problem myself when I wanted to establish my online identity for my Consulting business. For 59 years I have been known as "Randy Hawes". However, where I live now (British Columbia), "Randy Hawes" is the Secretary Of State For Mining in the Provincial Government. That's not me. So I had to become Randall D Hawes across all platforms, which meant I had to abandon all my online sites and start new ones. It isn't easy being me.

The History

However, we are getting ahead of ourselves here. Let's go back to the beginning and follow the trail through the entire 4 years. The first thing I want to do is present a graph - views over time - which will demonstrate what has happened with this channel. This is a thumbnail - please click on it to get full-size image:

Kindergoth YouTube Channel

Number of views for 100 videos over 4 years

Please note that 5 videos have been left out of this graph - the videos of Voice Coach interviews, and Kindergoth's two 'megahits' ("Vampire song" and "ZOH-MY-GOD What did I do ...?"). I will address them separately later.

Looking at the graph, draw a trend line from #1 to #100. What's the direction of the trend line? Down. However, going through the heart of the order, from video #24 to video #76, the median trend line would be fairly flat. It was consistent. But then, from video #77 to #101, the viewership really drops off from historical levels. Something fundamentally changed beginning in February 2009.

Let's remember one thing, though - in effect, this is a teenage girl operating this channel, with little understanding of what to do to properly promote the enterprise. Life got in the way of her efforts on a couple of occasions, and she found it difficult to bounce back. This happens to all of us. It is a constant danger to anyone running a small enterprise, so you must be prepared - mentally, physically and materially - to meet any challenge that comes out of left field unexpected.

The Megahits

Kaitlin (Kindergoth) did have two "megahits", relative to the norm for her channel. The first, "Vampire song" [October 22 2006] drew a large number of views because of the subject matter (vampires) and because of the sheer genius of the production and presentation, which I am sure caused it to go semi-viral. The second, "ZOH-MY-GOD What did I do ...?" [May 26 2007], grabbed almost the same number of views because of a home run with the title and the tags. This is one of the few times that the title and tags were used well in a Kindergoth channel video, leading to a spike in viewership. The title created suspense ... you read the title, and you just have to look. Like driving past a car accident, you're drawn to look. The tags would have been well received by the internal YouTube search and the outside search engines, thus getting the eyeballs to the title and then to the video.

Let's go back to "Vampire song". If you look at the upload dates, "Vampire song" came just four short months after Kaitlin uploaded her very first video to YouTube. She went from the girl just having fun with "Ballroom Blitz Mania!" (though for sure, very talented fun), to envisioning, costuming, set-design, makeup, directing, staging, acting, editing and producing what could only be described as a masterpiece - vis-a-vis given her age of only 16 - with "Vampire song". This is the point where the true breadth of her talent was revealed. And sadly, never repeated.

Kaitlin did go on to direct and produce several "skit" videos with her friends and several more lip-synching videos, as well as 'talking head' vids where she covers a subject of interest or just talks about her life. But none of them ever matched "Vampire song" for power & presence, and she never realized her dream of having the viral hits that would propel her to the level of YouTube Star.

Relation of Views to Rating

Let's look at the relationship between number of views and the ratings that viewers give to each video to see if the most viewed videos are in fact the highest rated videos, or not:

Views Top 10

  1. Vampire song
  2. ZOH-MY-GOD What did i do ...?
  3. Ballroom Blitz Mania!
  4. Royal Canadian Kilted Yakesmen
  5. It's Oh So Quiet
  6. Onigiri (Rice Balls)
  7. Date Gone Bad
  8. Ghost In The Closet
  10. Mahna Mahna

Rating Top 10

  1. Bohemian Rhabsody's lovable
  2. You Know You Missed it
  4. I think Someone Loves me ...
  5. Date Gone Bad
  6. RE: !! U R FCUKING GAY !!
  7. Mahna Mahna
  8. Vampire song
  9. Onigiri (Rice Balls)
  10. Ballroom Blitz Mania!

The short answer appears to be NOT. The top rated video, Bohemian Rhabsody's lovable, doesn't even appear in the top 10 views category. And neither do the next five. The four top viewed videos that do appear on the top rated list are in fact the bottom four rated. So, what's going on here? Why isn't the highest rated video not on the Views Top 10 list? I will give a few ideas why not.

We will use the top rated video, Bohemian Rhabsody's lovable, as a lone test case:

  • Firstly, the name of the song is misspelled. This is a 'Kaitlin' thing, but perhaps it was done on purpose to throw off the YouTube censors. The misspelling would certainly cut down on the number of returns for people searching by the correct spelling.
  • Second, the title itself doesn't make sense and is very unlikely to be a search term and probably didn't garner any new traffic.
  • Third, the description doesn't include any of the key words from the title or the tags, or describe what is taking place on the video.
  • Fourth, too many spelling mistakes. Sometimes misspelling can draw extra search results, but it must be done purposefully.
  • Fifth, the tags are too general - Bohemian Rhabsody queen music - again, providing nothing specific about what's going on in the video, and you would get a million returns using any combination of these search terms, with the Kindergoth video nowhere to be seen.

Again, let's remember that Kaitlin was only 16 when she produced this and there should be no expectation that she would know any of these "SEO rules". I am pointing these errors out as an instructional lesson only, without assigning any 'blame' to her at all. Her natural talent shines through in the video, which is why viewers gave it such a high rating. But the small things - the title, description, tags - were not done properly, which resulted in fewer viewers, which in turn results in less chance of the video going viral. Everything is connected. This was repeated on most of the videos she uploaded to the channel.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out is the fact that Kaitlin did not promote her Kindergoth channel in any way other than to mention it to her friends. When you understand that fact, it is remarkable, and a testament to her talent, that her videos have reached the level of popularity that they have.


My first and most important recommendation is that Kaitlin Moore should abandon the Kindergoth channel as a vehicle to further her career and/or craft. There would not be any redeeming qualities in trying to carry on with building this brand. The Kindergoth channel on YouTube has had its' day in the sun and it is now drawing into the night.

I would suggest that Kaitlin re-brand herself, starting fresh with a new identity that accurately reflects what her goals are, and construct a promotional matrix involving several platforms from which she can launch her chosen career. I have offered my assistance to her, if she so chooses, free of charge in payment of her letting me tear her channel apart.

In my role as a Small Business Management Consultant, I have boiled "business" down to three points, as a golden rule I live by:

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What do they want?
  3. How can you profitably supply it to them?

Answer these three questions correctly and you are assured of a successful business. Every aspect of a business, any business, can be boiled down to these three questions. The other golden rule that I live by is KISS. No, not Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons et al (though Gene has got it down pat). I mean Keep It Simple Simon (you may insert 'stupid' if you wish). All you need for a successful venture is to follow these two golden rules. Everything else is superfluous. What is the definition of superfluous, you ask?

  • superfluous - "doesn't matter a rat's ass"


With that, I will close this session with a listing of Kaitlin Moores' "talent" site, Dun by Kaitlin. Please take the time to check it out. Thank you very much for reading. Feedback is welcome.

Randall Hawes

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