Have you ever thought of YouTube as a business opportunity? Well, it is. It’s more than a network for music videos to be viewed. “YouTube offers an incredible platform for creators to present their work,” says Malik S. Ducard, content partnerships director at Google, who is in charge of premium film, TV and new media partnerships for YouTube.
And it is part of Ducard’s job to help YouTube creators reap the most rewards from presenting their work via YouTube, whether it be getting ad sponsor dollars, helping them target their audience or even landing a deal with a film company or television network.
Google has even created spaces for creators to produce new works. YouTube Spaces feature equipment for YouTube creators to make original videos, opportunities to collaborate with other channels, share experiences, network, attend workshops, screenings and events, and get hands-on experience with industry-leading production equipment and resources.
There are YouTube Spaces in Los Angeles, Tokyo and there’s one being built in New York City.
“The Web is now the main avenue for entertainment content to be distributed,” Ducard says. “And it offers an incredible opportunity for creators to be seen. And it is my job to help them make the most out of this paltform.”
In fact, YouTube has become a vital outlet for many creators of color who are often shut out of Hollywood deals. Among the most popular African-American personalities on YouTube are the singing Van Jess sisters, who have about 247,000 subscribers on YouTube; the Tonya Tko Show; GloZell, with more than 1,500,000 subscribers; and Iman Crossman aka “AlphaCat,” whose Drake and Obama impersonations have made him a mega YouTube hit. He has nearly 500,000 pages of subscribers. Perhaps the most successful has been Issa Rae, who spun her YouTube show “Awkward Black Girl” into a TV deal. Her shows have had more than 20 million views and about 150,000 subscribers. She now has a talk show, Exhale, and is developing a comedy for HBO.
“YouTube can offer a creative outlet for many, and I deal with helping them forge partnerships,” explains Ducard.
Before joining Google in 2010, Ducard was senior vice president of digital distribution for the Americas at Paramount Pictures where he oversaw the distribution of films to online, mobile and digital platforms including iTunes, XBox, Netflix, and a range of mobile, online and device technology partners.
“I have been lucky. I worked at various studios before joining Google, and I loved working on the studio side of things,” says Ducard. “But what I find exciting here is that I still get to maintain my ties with the studios but also get to be involved on the technical side of things, seeing how new features on the platform are developed. That’s exciting. I love it.”
Ducard admits to being a technology junkie from early on. “I remember begging my mother for a Commodore ’64,” recalls Ducard. The Commodore 64, or C64, was an 8-bit home computer that debuted in 1982 from Commodore International. It’s now listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling single computer model ever.
“My mom saved up and bought one for me for Christmas. I was so excited to open it up, but she made me wait for Christmas. She did let me have the manual beforehand. I devoured it and started writing programs in the language of the time–Basic.”
Besides being a tech head, Ducard was also a creative early on. “I would make these little animated clips books as a kid and take to school to show everyone,” says Ducard. “Yeah, I was that kid,” he adds and laughs.
A native of the Bronx, NY, Ducard earned his B.A. degree in Film and African-American Studies in 1995 from Columbia University and then his MBA in 2000 from the University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson School of Management. He began his career in advertising at Young & Rubicam in New York.
Now, his post at Google lets him combine both passions. “I love meeting with the tech department to help with new developments, but I also spend a lot of my day dealing with our YouTube creators,” says Ducard, who also travels a great deal for work. “My typical day is never typical. No two days are alike. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”