FORECAST FOR NEW MEDIA
just set up a camera and went for it. ‘‘You can pick up a camera now and bang some stuff online, and people either like you, or they don’t,’’ Jim says.
‘‘There aren’t layers of auditioning or hoops to jump through like there were in my world. The World Wide Web decides who they want to look at, and luckily lots of them want to look at Sally and hear what she has to say.’’
Sally started producing makeup tutorial videos while at university as a fun hobby, but by the time she graduated she’d accrued around 40,000 subscribers – enough followers to start generating income.
The content Sally makes is paid for through the ads that play in front of videos, as well as sponsorships from beauty brands.
Since graduating, she’s been making YouTube content fulltime, diversifying into a range of lifestyle clips. She is also active on Instagram, with more than 95,000 followers.
She thinks the digital world’s low entry barriers provide content creators like her with more creative freedom than those working in traditional media. Her father was part of a team, she works pretty much alone.
‘‘I like the flexibility... There’s no overheads, there’s no creative control, so I can just completely be myself,’’ she says.
That creative freedom comes with its own pressures, however. Sally drafts the concepts for her videos, presents them, and does the editing, lighting and post-production. She’s entirely reliant on her own skills.
And because consumers have hundreds of news and entertainment options – Sally is in competition with them all.
But she has one advantage: while her father’s audience was limited to New Zealand, hers is an international audience. She has large subscriber bases in the UK, Australia and the US.
Jim’s relationship to his audience was also very different to that of his daughter. While he would receive viewer feedback through the mail – or sometimes in an encounter on the street – after the fact, Sally receives almost immediate feedback.
‘‘Thankfully it happens very very seldom with Sally, but I know all the trolls and stuff, we’ve heard all the cliches,’’ he says.
Jim reckons it’s their shared aptitude for communicating that’s enabled them both to succeed in their respective fields.
Increasingly, though, platforms such as Sally’s are looking like the future for people wanting to work in the entertainment industry.
In 2015, talent management agency Johnson and Laird added YouTubers and social media influencers to its existing roster of actors, presenters and other entertainers.
They represent the likes of Sally’s fellow beauty YouTuber Shannon Harris aka Shaaanxo and former Bachelor NZ star and Instagram influencer Matilda Rice, and Sam Morgan, who posts videos to his Facebook page Sam’s Life.
Johnson and Laird’s founder and director Imogen Johnson says online talent is an ‘‘important core’’ of the business and the company encourages its actors and ‘‘traditional’’ talent to produce content for digital platforms.
Sally says online media platforms are soaring.
‘‘I think the industry in New Zealand now is recognising YouTube more as a form of advertising, as opposed to magazines and that sort of thing. It seems to become more and more boosted up each year, which is really cool for me to see. When I started nobody had even heard of such a career.’’
Misha Kavka of Auckland University studies YouTubers and says the platform’s audience starts young and sticks with it but creators need to stay abreast of the trends.
‘‘When there are low entry and low financial barriers, then innovation just happens that much faster. Innovation in older media, like television, television – well, certainly fictional television – is becoming increasingly expensive to make. The more expensive a thing is to make, the more risk-averse the producer is.’’
Jim Hickey retired from broadcasting in 2014 and says that these days when he and Sally go out for lunch, she’s recognised more often than he is.
But Sally is not so sure. ‘‘Whatever,’’ she says. GRANT MATTHEW / STUFF, FACEBOOK
Jim and Sally Jo Hickey have compared their experiences in the media, left, while, above left to right, YouTuber Shannon Harris aka Shaaanxo, Sam Morgan, who posts videos to his Facebook page and former star and Instagram influencer Matilda Rice have...