YouTube celebs: what the hell is go­ing on?

But I’ll pass, thanks. What is it with all th­ese “celebrity” kids with mil­lions of sub­scribers any­way? Get off my lawn!

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS -

State­side by Chris Smith

or how to get a sound, but they knew what sound they were look­ing for, and they showed me how to mar­ket, and the grow­ing in­flu­ence of ur­ban cul­ture. “Pop”, whether it’s Lady Gaga or Eminem, is such a pow­er­ful force – no other mu­sic genre is so in­flu­en­tial. You might have mil­lions of coun­try mu­sic fans, but it doesn’t change the way peo­ple talk.

Re­sult: a mar­riage made in heaven. This unique mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive to pop cul­ture, cre­at­ing a de­mand for high-qual­ity head­phones among kids who had never heard proper low, punchy bass be­fore. We had guys like Lil’ Wayne, P Diddy and David Guetta, in­flu­encers to mil­lions of kids. We col­lab­o­rated and it was 1+1=5; or, in this case, US$3 bil­lion.

The thing is, we’d had stars en­dorse prod­uct be­fore but it never re­ally worked, yet Dre was dif­fer­ent. He had amaz­ing cred­i­bil­ity be­cause he’d never en­dorsed any­thing be­fore this head­phone. Authenticity is ev­ery­thing.

The way I look at it to­day is you should have somebody but you don’t need a lot, you just need one star. So­cial me­dia is more im­por­tant – are you go­ing to be­lieve your friends and the com­mu­nity, or am I go­ing to be­lieve somebody who’s get­ting paid to say some­thing about the prod­uct? Kids to­day are very savvy.

Now, peo­ple say the head­phone business is too full and it’s go­ing to stag­nate, im­ply­ing Ap­ple has paid too much for Beats. But I’d say it was a good price be­cause the mar­ket is ac­tu­ally go­ing to get a lot big­ger.

Why, you ask? The per­cent­age of peo­ple who own phones and tablets that also own head­phones is less than three per cent. The big game changer is the boom in stream­ing; the mu­sic is ba­si­cally free. Users might have to deal with a com­mer­cial, but as less than 10% opt for the pre­mium, ad-free ser­vice, ob­vi­ously they don’t re­ally mind them – they just want mu­sic free and of high qual­ity.

If iOS 8 recog­nises high res­o­lu­tion mu­sic files, that’s a game changer, too. If Ap­ple en­cour­ages Beats Audio to do more high­res­o­lu­tion stuff with its stream­ing ser­vice, you’re not go­ing to lis­ten to that on a white ear­bud, you’re go­ing to need some­thing higher qual­ity. Other com­pa­nies that want to do what Mon­ster does and what Beats did? They don’t have the en­gi­neer­ing to get to the next level. Noel Lee is founder and CEO of Mon­ster Cable Prod­ucts Inc; monsterproducts.com

Full dis­clo­sure: I had a bit of a mi­nor run in with YouTube re­cently. While writ­ing about the site’s fail­ings, I as­serted con­fi­dently that its stars aren’t proper celebs like those I loved grow­ing up.

The re­ply from one of Google’s Earthly rep­re­sen­ta­tives was swift: “Yes they bloody are,” he said (I’m para­phras­ing), be­fore serv­ing up a laun­dry list of rea­sons I was wrong.

It was a good point and it was well made: ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Va­ri­ety study, YouTube celebs are ac­tu­ally more popular than main­stream icons among US teens. In fact, the top five names cited by 13-18 year olds were all YouTu­bers, who beat out old-school­ers in­clud­ing

“Dre and was amar­riage made in heaven was 1 +1 = $3 bil­lion

Mon­ster . It

Katy Perry, Jen­nifer Lawrence and Seth Ro­gen.

Among th­ese lat­ter­day Si­na­tras are TheFineBros, a com­edy duo who have ten mil­lion sub­scribers and amassed two bil­lion video views. A sort of meta YouTube celebrity act, they post (ad­mit­tedly well-pro­duced) videos where other YouTube stars I’ve never heard of of­fer re­ac­tions to mu­sic videos by acts I’ve also never heard of.

They laugh at old peo­ple – who I am be­gin­ning to sus­pect in­clude me – us­ing the Ocu­lus Rift and Google Glass and shoot – to be fair, rel­a­tively funny – orig­i­nal sketch com­edy. As a re­sult, they have an em­pire built on YouTube ad rev­enue, own­ing an in­de­pen­dent stu­dio and cre­at­ing con­tent for Com­edy Cen­tral, Warner Bros. BBC Amer­ica and MTV.

They’re by no means alone. Tyler Oak­ley is a quin­tes­sen­tial YouTube per­son­al­ity. He’s got plenty of sass, tremen­dous hair and over 5.5 mil­lion sub­scribers. He re­cently landed a gig as a red car­pet re­porter at the MTV VMAs for En­ter­tain­ment Tonight, sits atop the iTunes Pod­cast chart, and just won an on­line en­ter­tainer of the year award. Oh, and ear­lier this year was sum­moned to the White House, where he and other vi­ral video masters were asked by Pres­i­dent Obama to push his health­care ini­tia­tive. He’s 25.

How about Evan from EvanTube HD? His kid-friendly chan­nel reviews games and toys and has its own ded­i­cated ad-sales team. Even after YouTube’s jacked its 45 per cent cut, Business In­sider reck­ons he could earn up to $1.32m this year. He’s seven.

Also big­ger in Amer­ica than Kate Bush mul­ti­plied by The Bea­tles is Bethany Mota, a “bub­bly” – OMG! I soooo want to use the words, like, “to­tally an­noy­ing” right now, you guys, but I won’t! – fash­ion vlog­ger. She’s go­ing to be on ABC’s Danc­ing with the Stars along­side Carl­ton from The Fresh Prince and Chong out of Cheech and Chong, no less, has her own fash­ion line with the Aéro­postale la­bel and is on the cover of this month’s Sev­en­teen mag­a­zine. She’s 19.

What’s strik­ing is that I had to go and re­search all of th­ese names, while to any­one un­der the age of about 26 they’re as well known as Obama, if not more so. It’s a galling sign that I’m now of­fi­cially old. But you know what? It’s some­thing I can live with.

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