YouTube is unleashing a new feature for artists today. The yet-to-be-named product allows a user to upload multiple camera angles for a video, along with the audio track, and YouTube will then automatically stitch the camera feeds together so that viewers can toggle views while watching.
The press materials are emphatic that the new feature is part of YouTube's ongoing effort to give artists ever more ways to connect with fans. Billboard spoke with a YouTube communications professional, who said the idea was to let viewers feel like they were "the guy in the booth" checking out different camera angles.
The press release inadvertently asks a cogent question:
"Your videos bring your fans front and center, behind the scenes and everywhere in between. But what if your fans could choose from different camera angles of the same video while that video is playing?"
Yes, what if?
For one thing, it would mean your viewers would theoretically watch your videos longer, making them more valuable to advertisers, YouTube, and, possibly, you.
To test this new feature, YouTube hand-picked a proven impression-generating engine in the form of Madilyn Bailey, a YouTube creator with nearly two million subscribers, a glamorous alt haircut and hundreds of videos (singing covers, #passingnotes with her long-distance husband, discussing makeup and fashion and collaborating with other creators).
The trial balloon is a live performance of Bailey's "Ballgowns and Broken Crowns" from YouTube Music Night, filmed in December. The acoustic performance can be viewed on four different camera feeds throughout, though switching did cause some discontinuity in the audio.
This is a low-key product launch. It comes shortly on the heels of an announcement that YouTube will soon support 360 degree video on its platform, another novel but unproven offering, again aimed at enhancing the interactive quotient for fans.
The communications person I spoke with said that the product idea behind today's launch has been kicking around for a while at YouTube, but had never seen daylight. It's another tool in the Generation C ("creation, curation, connection and community") toolbelt: YouTube users can already be fans, creators, artists, brands, personal media companies, influencers and more. Now, they can be video editors too. In the words of Madilyn Bailey describing the furniture she got from Ikea in one of her vlogs: "Neato!"
If you're interested in offering this feature to your viewers, you can inform YouTube here.