Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan

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Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan

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Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A fascinating behind the scenes look at the phenomenon that is YouTube
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Virgin Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0753545928

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I watch quite a lot of YouTube. I play music videos when I want to listen to a particular song I don't already have in my collection. I use it to find out how to do things, with the instruction videos they seem to have for pretty much anything. At the gym, I'll stick it on on my phone, prop it up on the cross trainer and watch some behind the scenes interviews with the cast of my favourite shows. And sometimes I'll treat it as if it is Netflix, to watch series with new episodes releasing every few days, exclusively on YouTube. Having a new smart TV adds an extra, easy way to watch without having to plug in my laptop or squint at a small phone screen. So yes, I like YouTube and I use YouTube. But I didn't know a whole lot about the site it until I read this book.

Robert Kyncl is the Chief Business Officer of YouTube. He has written an exceptionally interesting book about YouTube and his role within it. You don't have to be in your late 40s, or from Eastern Europe, to identify with his childhood recollections of a time when there was nothing on TV, and no other options for entertainment. It's amazing how far we've come – I still remember the hype around channel 5 appearing, and now I have more channels than I could ever watch on Sky and have both Netflix and Amazon Prime, and yet often choose the free (ignoring the adverts bit) alternative of YouTube instead. Kyncl actually worked at Netflix and regular television too, before coming over to YouTube, so he knows the industry well.

1.5 billion people watch YouTube every month. It's astonishing, but then so is the array of content. I'd not given much thought to how it got there before – I always assumed people chose to film things and upload them off their own back – but this book talks about another side of things, where YouTube invests in talent to add more content to its site. Another thing I discovered? They have something called the YouTube Creator Summit where they invite the best and the brightest to learn from the great and the good, convening an individually selected group of creators and bringing them to nerd heaven. That's one for the bucket list.

There are people who use YouTube to sell their products or promote their brands, and there are people for whom YouTube is their product and can be a considerable source of income. The idea that there could be money in being watched braiding hair is fascinating, but the number of style videos on the site shows the interest cannot be denied. The beauty of YouTube is that it is user led. Videos have trackers of how many times they have been watched so it's easy to see who or what is popular. Anyone can upload anything (subject to content/decency guidelines) but to be successful, and turn videos into cash, you need to give the people what they want.

This book is about more than YouTube. It's about media in the new world, and although it is factual and informative, much like YouTube it is very entertaining too. It's an easy read but it's packed full of facts as well and I felt I'd inadvertently been educated while reading it. If only all learning came so easy.

I'd like to thank the publishers for supplying this book and, if you need any encouragement, allow me to recommend three great jumping off points into the YouTube world:

From my past: Stoneybrook Revisited brings to life the Ann M Martin books I loved as a teen.

From my present: Cheerleaders about Cali Smoed, an awesome dream team.

From my future: The crew of SV Delos are living our 5 year plan to pack up, sell up, and sail the world.

Meanwhile, if you enjoy books about the media, Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies is highly recommended.

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Buy Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Stream Punks by Robert Kyncl and Maany Peyvan at


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