YouTube to shutter its Toronto creator space

TORONTO — YouTube says it’ll close the company’s only permanent Canadian studio later this year as it changes strategies for how it reaches video creators.

The media giant sent an email on Thursday to its online creator community outlining plans to replace its Toronto studio with temporary “pop-up” locations that will roll out in different regions of the country.

It says the move will help YouTube’s production assets reach Canadians in cities where they wouldn’t otherwise have the resources.

YouTube Space Toronto opened at George Brown College in spring of 2016 amid a boom in the growth of the creator community.

The 3,500-square-foot facility was accessible to YouTube personalities with more than 10,000 subscribers, and the more popular their channels were, the more access they had to studio time.

It quickly became a hot spot for Toronto creators to mingle and tap into resources they might not otherwise have, such as equipment, workshops and space to hold launch parties.

Canadian musicians also dropped in for live performances, including country singer Jess Moskaluke, rapper Shad and rock performer Matt Good. They all recorded live concerts in the studio for their YouTube channels.

YouTube frequently invites its most popular personalities into the space to attract crowds. Ottawa creator Elle Mills, who has 1.6 million subscribers, will swing into the YouTube Space on June 6 for a meet-and-greet with fans.

A recent study by Ryerson University found there are about 160,000 YouTube creators in Canada, but the company’s record for supporting Canadian content has been spotty.

Less than two years ago, YouTube proudly launched “Spotlight Canada,” a curated page that promised to promote homegrown talent by highlighting standout videos. But the page quickly slipped into neglect and hasn’t been updated in nearly six months.

The YouTube Space closure comes as the streaming giant moves away from occupying properties that aren’t owned and operated by its Google parent.

The company also plans to close another YouTube Space in Mumbai, India, that operates on the grounds of a school, though locations in other cities, including New York, London, Paris and Los Angeles will stay open.

Mark Swierszcz, manager of the Toronto space, said in a statement that YouTube is looking into options for a different kind of permanent Toronto facility for local creators and “will have more to share very soon about a future home.”


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David Friend, The Canadian Press