YouTube and YouTube Stars: By You, For You
YouTube is considered many things. Some label it as a social media platform, others see it as a new media outlet, some could even go so far as to call it a studio for independent creators. It’s all of these things and more, in truth. Most of all, however, YouTube serves as a space for cultivating creativity. It’s competitive, it’s unique, and its gigantic. With over a billion active users and nearly 300 hours of content uploaded every minute there’s something for everyone on YouTube, both for consumers and creators. As the public watches YouTube grow into a more commercial beast than ever imagined, we question the authenticity of its being and dissect the ways in which YouTube has stayed true to its origins.
Since its pioneering days in 2005, Google has gotten ahold of it, along with other large companies splitting advertisement revenue, and things have changed for YouTube. However, are there areas of YouTube that have remained unscathed? Is there something in the formula of independent creation that is untouchable? Though these questions are nearly impossible to answer, as only time can truly tell, by looking at three YouTube channels as case studies, one can begin to understand the trends of the platform over time and how the institution that is YouTube has evolved exponentially comparative with other generations in media.
In an effort to construct the argument as to why YouTube poses such a great force in media, in aspects from production to distribution, the proper resources must be analyzed and used to their full potential. Considering the use of three specific channels, the resources must line up with the correct intent. Moreover, the overall argument is also quite important to support, and the resources at hand reflect that, as well. First, we take a look at
Online video in all its forms has grown into a business in many ways. Not only are there multiple platforms for growth, but there are so many different genres and modes of video production. Focusing on YouTube, this business opportunity has opened the door for video creators to make videos and build their channel around how to make videos. It’s a pretty meta, or self-referential. In terms of YouTube as a school, the platform offers just as many educational videos as it does entertainment videos. To explain a little better, it’s important to look at examples. Video Influencers is a YouTube channel built by two content creators known as Sean and Benji. They each have individual channels based around what their niche is, Benji’s being cooking and Sean’s being tech. But on Video Influencers they work together to bring help to YouTube creators, many of them much smaller than the Video Influencers channel itself. Basically, the credibility is already established. Sean and Benji’s channel has almost 400,000 subscribers. So, for smaller channels starting out with hundreds or even just tens of subscribers, they can look to Video Influencers, a brand that has shown clear, substantial growth, for advice about how to do what they did.
There are so many corners of YouTube it’s actually kind of hard to call them “corners” anymore. Niche contain has grown into profitable and watchable content. It’s not just comedy channels, gaming channels, cooking channels, etc, anymore. In comedy there are skit channels, reaction channels, animation channels, etc; in the gaming sphere there are action gamers, horror gamers, role playing gamers, and so many more; with cooking you might have a barbecue cooking channel or a channel that focuses on baking or even a comedy cooking channel. The possibilities are endless, truly. Some niche is very specific, but still very successful.
Dobbs is a YouTuber that started his journey on the platform in 2016. He makes Pokemon related content, including top 10 videos, theory videos, timeline videos, and more. His channel just hit 600,000, and it took him less than 3 years to reach that. His personality and great video production skills aid that number, of course, but the fact that a YouTube channel based around Pokemon that makes videos about specific aspects of Pokemon can be this successful is mind boggling. There are Pokemon channels with more subscribers than Dobbs, too. And, Dobbs’ success has allowed him to make a second channel for his gaming content that is almost at 100,000 subscribers now. So, why is creating niche content still an opportunity for success.
Once YouTube hopped into the mainstream, or at least in some ways, YouTube stars arose from the site. Names like Smosh and NigaHiga have been around for over a decade, and still hold gigantic channels to this day. Then of course there are channels that showed up a little more recently and have shaped the way YouTube can make a person famous. These include channels like Jenna Marbles, Casey Neistat and, of course, PewDiePie, who is the biggest channel on YouTube with over 74 million subscribers. In the case of YouTube stars, I think a really fantastic channel to look at and study is h3h3Productions. This channel features a husband and wife who make comedy videos together, mainly reaction videos. Their content focuses on social commentary and pointing out flaws in the content of the world.
They were innovative at the time of their initially popularity, and many channels have followed their footsteps since. Considering that h3h3 was so introductory in this way, it’s important to note that many YouTube stars have either created or popularized a new genre or subgenre of content creation. Just like h3h3 made reaction videos a popular subgenre of comedy, Philip DeFranco has popularized journalistic videos and Casey Neistat made vlogging a gigantic favorite among the YouTube community.