I have watched thousands of Youtube videos over the years. I am a proud Youtuber and have seen the culture evolve over the last 8 years. Honestly, things were different just a few years ago. Top Youtubers were fighting to become mainstream. They encouraged eachother and helped promote eachother in any way in terms of getting into the mainstream because it meant promoting Youtube and its community, which they were all a part of. Youtube was a lot smaller back then and it was much easier for someone to recognize who the top people were. Back then, one hundred thousand subscribers meant you were a major deal. Some of the Youtube channels I was starstruck with still have only one hundred thousand subscribers. It is eerie because I remember watching their videos and being starstruck because everyone on Youtube knew about their content and it was being featured on Youtube’s homepage.
Now, one hundred thousand subscribers is chicken scratch to a lot of people. Tens of thousands of Youtube channels have that and take it for granted because they are comparing themselves to Youtubers raking in millions of subscribers.
I do not think people realize or appreciate how vast Youtube is and how much it is still growing. I probably have a better grasp of it than 99% of people out there because of how many different channels I intentionally discover on a daily basis. Youtube is VAST. There are all sorts of different topics that are thriving. About half a year ago, there was a thousand youtube channels with at least one million subscribers. Now, there are 1,500 and that number is increasing almost every day. The top Youtuber, Pewdiepie, is about to hit 40 million subscribers and was just on Stephen Colbert.
Every few days, I will look for new established channels on Youtube I am unaware of in the Top 2000 list. Youtube has gotten so vast to the point that almost each time, I find this channel I have never heard of raking in hundreds of thousand of views per day. It is scary that you can be a huge influencer and yet… not be a huge influencer. What that means is that millions of people following you can still mean you are niche when there are billions of people in the world.
Youtubers are slowly being recognized more. Famed Youtube vlogger Casey Neistat has come out and said that Youtubers used to think that Youtube was a stepping stone to the mainstream. However, coming from a film background, he claims that Youtube IS the mainstream. Casey intentionally walked away from the film industry and its bureaucracy to go to Youtube. And it’s going well. He hit 1 million subscribers about a month ago and now is almost at 1,500,000 subscribers.
And it’s true. There have been surveys and studies down on young audiences. And they have ranked top entertainer Youtube stars like Nigahiga, Jenna Marbles, and Tyler Oakley higher than mainstream Hollywood stars. See this article and infographic for proof: http://variety.com/2014/digital/news/survey-youtube-stars-more-popular-than-mainstream-celebs-among-u-s-teens-1201275245/
I think this is really awesome. At last, Youtubers no longer have to feel like second fiddle. I have seen a ton of Youtubers use Youtube as a ladder. Some of them have left Youtube for the film industry. (People point to Youtuber Kevjumba, which is partially true. But he always wanted to make actual movies and has voiced that so I don’t blame him). Others are still working to turn Youtube into a music career outside of Youtube. However, I have also seen people stick to Youtube despite offers and pressures from the outside.
Nigahiga has been one of the most subscribed Youtube channels for years. He is one of the few top channels that has kept up with the changes of Youtube, kept his content fresh, and kept up with updates in video quality standards on Youtube. Early on, he was offered a TV show on Cartoon Network, one of my favorite kids TV stations as a child, but only if he deleted every single one of his videos on his Youtube. He thought about it a ton… and declined. Thank god. Where would he have been had he accepted? He might have been a one hit wonder like Frankie Muniz looking for more work as an actor. (I’m just kidding Frankie! It’s a joke! I love you and thoroughly enjoyed your recent AMA on Reddit). Or he would have had to build up his Youtube from scratch again, which would be do-able but a lot tougher.
And, of course, there are top Youtube channels like Annoying Orange and Fred who managed to keep their channels and get their own shows on TV as well.
I think Youtube will be this wonderful machine that does a bunch of everything. It might continue to find talent and turn them from nobodies into mainstream musicians … like Justin Bieber. People have completely forgotten this because of how far he’s come, but Justin Bieber was FOUND through his viral covers on Youtube. (Man, who would have thought he would have gotten so famous though?)
In the process, there will be some casualties. Esme Denters was a famous Youtube musician who was even more famous than Justin Bieber on Youtube and came before him. Both of them met briefly.
Bieber was found on Youtube and later signed by Scooter Braun and Usher.
Esme was picked up by Justin Timberlake as part of his label.
For Esme, things did not work out as well. She was last seen on January 2015, knocked out of the knock-out rounds auditioning for the Voice UK. (I wish her the best. She was one of my favorite Youtube singers of old school Youtube)
Youtube may continue to propel a select few people into the mainstream if that’s what they want. Other big musicians and top Youtubers like Kurt Hugo Schneider have decided to stay on Youtube and have done very well financially touring.
Youtube is also the place for anyone with a camera and computer to upload content. With the barrier to entry and price of technology getting lower and lower, anyone with just a smartphone is able to upload fairly high quality video content to Youtube. It is the place for the girl or guy with no connections to make their mark and show their talent. Having said that, because the barrier to entry has been lowered, the standard for the average Youtube viewer has gone up tremendously. They expect high quality videos, oftentimes with good editing. And it has to be super informative or entertaining or they won’t watch the videos. It has gotten quite competitive and crowded with so many content creators coming in to fight for eyeballs.
And just like with TV shows, Youtubers will come and go. Some of the top Youtube channels like Ray William Johnson and Fred are now nothing close to what they used to be because their creators were no longer interested in creating the content. After a thousand videos, you sometimes want to move on.
Youtube allows for content to be made a lot quicker and go through a lot fewer funnels before it gets released publicly to the entire world.
Now, mainstream media has realized the power of Youtube. Top television shows like Ellen really owe Youtube for multiplying their reach exponentially. Big talk shows like Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel are using social media, especially Facebook and Youtube video, to explode their reach. And they’re doing it really well. Brands and companies like Coca Cola are coming in to sponsor big Youtube entertainers like Superwoman. And there’s tens of thousands of Youtube channels down below trying to make it as well.
Instagram has really become the only big social media hug for mainstream celebrities. Every big celebrity, model, or athlete is on Instagram and really isn’t on anything else. (Some are arguably on Twitter and Facebook too). Instagram is booming right now and it’s doing really well. Taylor Swift is killing it with 51 million followers.
However, mainstream celebrities have started to perk up and go to Youtube as well. The Victoria Secret model Karlie Kloss has her own Youtube channel. And it’s not a crappy channel or one that’s run by her PR and clearly very corporate. This is a girl who actually watches a lot of Youtube and incorporates some of the stuff she finds into her channel including Challenge videos. (Having said that, there is a bit of corporate in her videos, as she does have a team behind it to produce the videos and everything. She doesn’t seem to read the comments either. It’s not completely 100% authentic but it’s progress)
Youtube is probably the one channel on the internet where you are most exposed, save for live stream or blog, if you let it. This is because you get instant, live feedback in the comments. Your fans also see you visually, how you act, behave, and talk. There is danger in that. If you get too personal or don’t have thick skin, you can be rocked in the comments. Youtube is the most dangerous platform in that you can tell your whole life story and many small details through your videos, whereas with Instagram photos, there is still a bit of aloofness and safety there. The vulnerability and information you can reveal could be dangerous so be careful with your privacy.
Nowadays, mainstream celebrities have started working together and commingling with well-known entertainment and personality-type Youtubers. Oftentimes, this is more often the company or brand behind the celebrity reaching out though. Companies are not entirely stupid. They see the numbers and see that tons of eyeballs are moving away from television and straight to Youtube and other forms of internet video (Facebook videos, Crunchyroll – I love my anime, Hulu, and Netflix to name a few). Some of the time, it is actually the celebrity reaching out because they watch Youtube themselves and see the numbers.
Below are some big celebrities that have worked with some well known Youtube influencers. I definitely think that the success of talk shows on Youtube, where they interview celebrities and play weird games with them have helped a bit.
Celebrity Shay Mitchell gets pranked by Fousey Tube. Shay Mitchell has her own Youtube channel. She has a team behind her channel but it is doing fairly well and she has definitely kept it authentic and meshed with the “Youtube culture.” She has collaborated with other Youtubers on her channel as well including Superwoman and Steph Stone. It seems like she is personally reaching out to these celebrities for fun.
Tyler Oakley and One Direction. Tyler Oakley has also been on Ellen. I believe he was invited to interview One Direction.
Kylie Jenner has 39 million followers on Instagram (and growing) as of me writing this. She did a collab with GiGi Gorgeous on her Youtube. Gigi has 2 million subscribers. It seemed like they did it just because it would be a fun cross-promotional thing
Jack Black and his son played a video game (FIVE NIGHTS OF FREDDY’s. It’s a horror game.) with the well known video gamer Markiplier to promote the new movie Goosebumps. As of this post, Markiplier has 10 million subscribers.
Caspar is another huge influencer I watch who did a video with Chris Pratt to promote Jurassic World
Smosh has done a few videos with people like Chris Pratt and the Rock to promote films. Smosh has 21 million subscibers.
Another top Youtube personality, Alfie (4 million subs), did a video with Ariana Grande. It doesn’t seem like it was done to promote anything.
Most recently, Superwoman (7 million subscribers) did a video with Selena Gomez. It may have been done to promote her upcoming tour.
Again, so far, it seems like they have mainly been coming on board to promote films or tour dates. But that’s not always the case. These are all the ones I have found myself from my own Youtube watching. There may be more but I think I got all of them.
I do not think television will ever die completely. Just like how people thought radio would die but it is still here. Radio is slowly dwindling though. I do understand that. Personally, I think television will carve out its own niche and stick around for a long time because it is different from Youtube in special ways. Youtube is, generally speaking, made in bite-size five or ten minute chunks. Oftentimes, very informal low-production videos with high levels of trolling can be very popular. Very informal vlogs can be quite popular too. There is a certain level of authenticity and amateur level production that is valued on here.
Television will stick around because people will still love the long, interesting plots of TV shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Family Guy, and so on. They like the long 30-minute length. They like the extensive high-production video quality, camera work, and ward-robe. It will just be that a percent of that chunk of time will be moving towards Youtube. But in addition to that, I think the access to the internet and cable will mean that the consumption in total for all of these forms of entertainment and information will increase as a whole on a global level.
I still think that there are plenty of things that are still clunky and could be fixed all around if you look at it from a futuristic perspective. Optimally, I think we will be moving towards even greater integration and seamless, flawless instant access to everything you can imagine with the simplest user interface you can think of. What do all these complicated words mean? It means that the demand in customers is still for cleaner, faster, flawless, non-laggy access to anything he or she wants. I think the company who integrates and gets it all correct with technology will make quite a bit of cash.
Imagine this: instant access to ANY Youtube channel, video gaming stream, TV show (old or new), or movie at will with no commercials with the click of a mouse or a single thought. Also, you are able to instantly put on your virtual reality headset and be immersed in a 360 degree experience of a video game, talk show, sporting event, or talk show. There is so much potential for human-kind and people fail to realize the exponential growth that will occur in the next thousand years and its implications. It is just the beginning. Currently, we are still a bit off from that because of bureaucracy and other reasons. Netflix cannot get every film they want. Virtual reality and 360 degree video technology are just in their infancy but have shown enough results already to imply that we may have advanced enough in technology to make some considerable strides. Obviously, there are some dark sides to all of this (the big one that’s always talked about is virtual porn. But it’s not a new concept at all. There’s been ton of Sci Fi films about this.)
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