The Moto Elephant In The Room!
(Part Two: A Review of Our Favorite Motovloggers!)
What the Moto Industry won’t tell you: Magazines, Print-Journalism, Moto-Industry events, mag-Ads, billboards, Movie product placement and the advertisement tools of the old analogue days are either dead or dying.
(Here is the big fake-out! -And quite possibly why the industry may turn back to these older forms again eventually).
But the industry, seemingly, is reluctant to tell us (The Moto buying public) or, at least, admit to this enormous elephant in the room!
The truth is that most of the moto fanatical public grabs their information, excitement, reviews and details about the bikes, manufacturers, riders and events with which they are most interested in through the means of digital platforms such as Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and on and on.
No more proof of this (Not-So-Hidden) elephant in the room is necessary to make this point as to witness a new bike press launch “Unveiled” at a coastal track here in the states, at locations like Leguna Seca.
The first things out of our moto-journalists hands are not notebooks or journals, but, more likely- GoPros!
How many times have we logged into our gigantic conglomerate controlled Youtube in order to catch our favorite Moto-Vlogger-reviewer channel to catch these unveiling vids- only to find the elephant in the room?
“What is this mysterious elephant, Pray-tell Motosquirrel!?”, you may ask!
Answer: With the importance of “Influencers”, social media stars, reviewers, vloggers, bloggers, videographers and the like only growing and quickly cementing itself as a digital foundation in support of many industries (As within the Motorcycle Industry); it is a farce and charade at best for the media personalities who are testing and reviewing these products NOT to acknowledge each other.
A good example would be Motosquirrels viewing of the most recent track-day unveiling of the new Honda 2021 CBR1000RR press event.
Here our reviewer Adam Waheed get’s ready to try the new Honda CBR1000RR’s launch control. (Note: All original visuals are the properties of the original channel creators and only used here for illustrative purposes. Motosquirrel makes no claims of ownership.)
Catching the video via Motorcyclist Magazine (Formerly Bonnier Group now Octane) as hosted by Adam Waheed (Who we are fond of and feel has earned his ground as a great moto-journalist!) we can clearly see Zack Courts (The former host of MC Commute and Co-creator of On Two Wheels – Very creative and super talented as well!) waving a cameo hello as Adam films himself about to take off and try Honda’s newly offered launch control. These two personalities clearly know each other, have spent time together and have had the same employers etc.
Does either rider truly acknowledge each other? Nope! Have they met or acknowledged each other in the past? As mentioned above, of course. So why are we, the viewing public, viewing the larger/older formally print media giant of Motorcyclist and that of the largest on-line retailer of moto gear, namely, Revzilla – pretending to NOT be in the same room (AKA a very intimate Moto Press Event)?
The power of video personalities, their audiences, video market share as well as social prowess is, in our Motosquirrel opinion, deemed so important by these publication/distributors that they do not want any viewer to mistake, confuse, meld or mulch their understanding of which reviewer/rider represents which marquee.
Zack nonchantly say hello to Adam and former employ! (Note: All original visuals are the properties of the original channel creators and only used here for illustrative purposes. Motosquirrel makes no claims of ownership.)
If, say, these two personalities (Zack and Adam) were caught on film interacting for more than a few seconds- how would their cubicle bound marketers be able to “Metric” what and how viewers were excited or not-so excited about the video filmed or posted? Who would they give “Thumbs Up” credit to? Was it Adam making a pass-by on a Zack review? Or was it them giving each other a high five on turn two? It would be too muddy for these more than slightly greedy companies to parse! (No offense but they are making a living!)
Why, we here at Motosquirrel, feel that this Non-Intermixing philosophy is old, worn-out, tired and won’t stick in the new age of digital social media!
This tired paradigm of journalism also reminds us of the old days when freelancers were mostly tossed around until they got a more permanent gig at a major magazine or marquee. Once there, the writer or creative had to adhere to guidelines of not mentioning other media sources or any past catalogue of work etc. (With some exceptions of course). It poorly assumed that the reader wouldn’t think the whole thing a funny exercise in fakery, posteuring or immanence! As readers of any serial magazine, review periodicals or newspapers- we ALWAYS know where our favorite and less favorite writers are and, more importantly, who they are stringing for. Pretending otherwise is always stupid and assumes stupidity on behalf of their reading/watching audience.
In the digital social media age, the very tools of communication, cross-pollination and opportunity to participate on many platforms, are changing the means by which we value information. Especially as it pertains to customers purchasing decisions when buying important gear or motorcycles.
Initially, platforms like YouTube, offered a unique environment where whole worlds within universes of content could offer a viewer any insight, however candid, to any creators potential of opinions and filming creativity. Add in the ingredients of social behavior opportunity, comments, monetization, subscriber supports, limitless bandwidth, freedom of speech, the opportunity to grow a presence larger than some industry names and the ability to be watched or view vids throughout the globe- are just a few advances in this product venue alone. This burgeoning marketplace of ideas is only beginning.
Adam Waheed, freelancing, strikes out on his own. Caught up in the reviews with Ari Fleming of Motorcyclist (Note: All original visuals are the properties of the original channel creators and only used here for illustrative purposes. Motosquirrel makes no claims of ownership.)
Now that the money-making juggernaut of Social Media has long let the Cat-Out-Of-The-Bag and whole empires of wealth have been created around YouTube personalities alone, there can be NO doubt that this same gold-rush environment has, is, and will keep changing.
Del of Delboy’s Garage makes one, if not THE first, in front of camera appearances. (Note: All original visuals are the properties of the original channel creators and only used here for illustrative purposes. Motosquirrel makes no claims of ownership.)
In earlier days the videos and tweets were, perhaps, more innocent.
We had Grandpa taking out his new Gold-Wing for the first time. Joe the Superstar mechanic showing you how HE prefers to adjust a chain. Maybe some travel-logs etc. These early days gave birth to (In Motosquirrels opinion) the very first long-form first person videos (Via small camcorders and eventually GoPros) while riding motorcycles.
“Back in the Day” Delboy was a hoot to watch riding on his Harley XR1200X at night. Don’t even think this was a GoPro or smaller camcorder! (Note: All original visuals are the properties of the original channel creators and only used here for illustrative purposes. Motosquirrel makes no claims of ownership.)
These first-gen type films (Some being called F.R.O.’s in England and other such acronyms) were very innovative, if not simple, for the time. It gave us a glimpse into what it was like to ride a bike from a riders perspective. Throw in his/her narrative concerning their environment or personal dealings in their own lives by way of microphone- well it made for some very compelling video at best and, sometimes, complete audio/video non-sensical examples of mediocrity at it’s worst! (Today Motosquirrel meets many riders who got inspired to ride a Moto via watching videos and…..wait for it….even learned how to ride their very first time while WATCHING a “How To Shift” video on their phone…..while riding! (Not too safe but not kidding)
As “Motovlogging” grew, so did the channels and varying content. A content creators ability to see in tandem what was also popular for viewers of other channels, only heightened the competition for views, and, in some cases deadened creativity in exchange for copycat behavior. Subsequently, as viewership and subscribership exploded, so did the cognitive dissonance of the Creators themselves, i.e. : should they continue providing content that their audience seems happy and familiar with or should they “Up the Ante” like so-n-so’s Motovlog where he/she got a “Million Views”?
Derrick puts himself on the map by being one the best D.I.Y. type of mechanic/custom makers in the U.K. circa 2011. (Note: All original visuals are the properties of the original channel creators and only used here for illustrative purposes. Motosquirrel makes no claims of ownership.)
Add in the factor of the exposure of motorcycling lifestyles or “Culture” as a whole to an uninitiated public who does not ride, but rather, enjoys watching other people endanger themselves, take chances, travel far and sometimes curse the “Cagers’- we ended up with video’s masking speedometers, anonymized riding personalities and many edits of film not showing where or what a rider may be doing at any given lawful/unlawful location.
(This article is not intended as a historical guide on the history of Youtube or other social media that acts as underpinning of the Motorcycle Industry. But, we feel it is necessary to note the environment which MAY be beginning to stagnate for the big Moto-Publishers.)
Where we are now.
With Google and Amazon being, arguably, the two largest influencers or platforms for marketing, affiliate marketing, cross-linking, add-grossing and venues with which any industry must aknowlege at the least and navigate at the worst- it only makes sense that we are seeing MORE elephants in the room.
We, as moto-fans, are witnessing would-be professional actors who “Also-Ride” pretending to just “Start a Channel” in order to “Have Fun”. Of course, in reality, they are an asset of some industry and are being paid somehow for their product views, behavior or influence. (These are only logical suspicions on Motosquirrels behalf! But, clearly, there is something suspect about a Moto-vlogger who consistently reviews bikes that they do not like because they are stinky or too loud, or vibrate or or or……..hmmm …..then they like only the electric ones…..!!).
Add-In the would-be models (Many of them being women) who are constantly being “Recommended” for our viewership. Do they ride?- Yep. Did they go from having a few thousand subscribers to millions, instantly? Yep indeed. Although there may be a legal caveat to disclaim an association with a presented products before any advisement in our own country (U.S.A.), there may not be that transparent a rule in another.
Another trend (A very good one in our opinion) is that of smaller to mid-size Moto sites or channels that are being recognized by the industry and are being given bikes to review or borrow as a result. In some cases, they are getting them in parellel timing to the bigger publishers (Whatever publisher means anymore!).
A sidenote should also be made that many of these same smaller motovloggers, bloggers and reviewers are being invited by OEMs to press launches etc. And currently, during Covid2020, many motovloggers were offered bikes to review allowing the smarter manufaturers to reach further fans, in lieu of being able to attend such events as EICMA.
In defence of the stupid- and in an attempt to save the Elephant, can the small and modest Motosquirrel offer some advice to the larger (Think top three or so i.e. Revzilla, Motorcyclist, Motorcycle.com etc.) moto product magazines/online-retailers out there?
We don’t ask permission here at Motosquirrel!
We, the fans of all things motorcycle, promise to suspend our disbelief when watching a video that has narration referring to a “First-Look” or “Exclusive First Look” at a certain bike as it wizzes past the camera only to partially obscure another rider, representing another company, riding on the very same bike in the distance- albeit slighty obscured. (Fade in California Canyon roads here!)
The linear days of a single reader having a single subscription to one bike magazine are long gone. Today, in an instantly socialized web, when a fan subscribes to many sources he/she knows the where and how as well as the who will likely be at an event and most likely cover the excitement in today’s moto circles.
In a tech ruled world where we are all, as a society, constantly falling forward to create a substantial career, life, business and possibly a name for ourselves, it is of no revelation that we are all “Subbed To” and “Subbed By” all types of bikers- AND it is now a necessity. Within an industry that is shrinking in the west, (But can hopefully be resurrected by the teenagers of today who seem to know all things tech, BUT want to have a more hands-on experience) to pretend that other film crews, personalities or companies are not “Right On Your Shot” is a mistake!
Also offering (As in a most recent video by Motorcyclist) a behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to make a Motorcycle review complete with captions; only to make the entire thing look over glossy, over edited and anything but spontaneous, is a mistake in our opinion!
If you were trying to illustrate what separates the small-potato Moto-Vloggers from ‘The Big Boys” – you came off as overpaid and bloated. We (No insult intended) at Motosquirrel ended up asking: “Did it take that much crew, that much equipment, that big a rig- only to film something that looks so fake?” and also “Why have a behind-the-scenes film of a motorcycle on-location shoot that only leads one to think as to where the THIRD person filming the “REAL” behind-the-scenes film via a GoPro really is?”
If the sole intent of Google and all of the larger enterprizes represented on Youtube as well as other social media platforms is to slowly create cable type “Networks” whose task is to entice or crowd out the smaller more reality based Vloggers…………We acknowledge that through monetary and algorithmic manipulation as well as shadow banning, personality artificial thumb-pumping and faux ranking as well as plain old payoffs- you may succeed!
But, we creators who wish to impart our own personalities, creativity, passion, entrepreneurship and connection to our own audiences will have to find or even create new platforms elsewhere.
It is what made the beginnings of Youtube amazing!
Reader Note: Part Two coming in 48hours!
Motosquirrel’s favorite Motovloggers!