Record, edit, and upload – that is all it takes to become a potential Internet sensation today.
The popularity of the video sharing website, YouTube, has created a new medium of entertainment. It has allowed otherwise normal people to “broadcast” themselves to obtain masses of fans and sometimes achieve celebrity status.
All starting in 2005, YouTube has evolved from a simple website to a mainstream media alternative. This entertainment outlet has led to the rise of YouTube stars such as Ryan Higa, Smosh, Pewdiepie, the Fine Brothers, and many others.
These “YouTubers” range from comedians, educators, artists, and the so-called “vloggers.” They are exposed to millions of viewers each day without the need of network television.
A YouTuber’s biggest audience is the people who were raised with the internet: modern day teenagers. Many teens find YouTubers appealing for many reasons.
Carlmont senior and avid YouTube watcher, Laila Rafi said, “[Youtubers] gain a following through their personality and their humor and the viewer’s desire to see more of them and their content.”
Amber Governale, Carlmont junior and YouTube fan added, “Everyone goes on the internet nowadays, especially teens. YouTube stars are able to connect with younger generations more so than celebrities because they are also young and speak directly to their audiences.”
Whether it be for the many parodies, creative song covers, or the daily “vlogs,” everyone has something to watch on YouTube.
YouTube has given audiences the freedom to watch whatever they want whenever they want, unlike scheduled TV shows.
Carlmont junior class president and fan of YouTube James Pak said, “I really like that with YouTube you get to actually know the creators of the videos, because they can always make vlogs that reveal their lives while, for example, you don’t get to know Hollywood stars very well.”
Pak added that, “With YouTube you have a much wider variety to choose from that you can watch any time you want, while you don’t get to pick when to watch something on TV in general.”
Felix Kjellberg, 24, commonly known by his pseudonym, PewDiePie, is the number one subscribed YouTuber with over 15 million subscribers and growing. Born and raised in Sweden, he went to college at Chalmers University of Technology, but ultimately dropped out in 2011 to start his YouTube career.
PewDiePie’s comedic “Let’s Play” videos and charming personality has allowed him to strike Internet gold. Yet even amongst his vast following, he maintains a connection with his fans, often calling them the “Bro Army.”
Governale, a huge fan of PewDiePie said, “He’s like my role model! I think that he’s the most popular on YouTube because he’s so overly obnoxious and everyone loves that.”
Unlike the many viral videos on the Internet, such as PewDiePie, these stars themselves have gone viral through independent and consistent work ethic.
On the subject, Rafi said, “Usually viral videos are something funny or meaningful, yet it’s unlikely that the creator is going to continuously make that sort of video, so most often no one cares to follow them. With YouTubers, their videos usually aren’t such that can stand alone.”
She added, “When [YouTubers] stop creating, the viewer loses interest because there’s nothing new to draw their attention to. YouTubers are relying on the viewer’s interest in their lives, such as vloggers, to keep their view count up and their community active.”
The question of whether YouTubers can be considered professional entertainers has caused some conflict. Many teens today find the website as their main source of entertainment, sometimes even completely replacing their TV.
Carlmont junior Catherine Schulze said, “I do think YouTube can be an alternate source of entertainment from TV. You can get news and funny videos on Youtube. They even have online shows and web series that are free to watch.”
YouTubers have recently created mini-series that most consider to have TV-quality production. This new trend convince some that YouTube is becoming a true alternative to TV.
Celebrities who got their start after being discovered on YouTube include names such as Soulja Boy, Greyson Chance, and most namely, Justin Bieber.
Their stories of making it big in the entertainment industry after YouTube are often called success stories. Does that mean that one cannot be coined ‘successful’ if they choose to stay on YouTube?
“I believe that YouTube stars can be successful if they can reach around 1 million subscribers and if they reach a broad audience, which could make them a celebrity in their own right,” said Schulze.
Jenna Mourey, 27, also known as Jenna Marbles, is a comedian and internet personality who is the most subscribed woman on YouTube. With her over 11 million subscribers and estimated $2.5 million net worth, she has gained worldwide recognition and fame through the Internet.
On the question of whether Marbles would move on to do television or movies, she said in an interview, “I’m not completely sold that you ever have to transition to mainstream media, you know? What I get to do is have fun in my house by myself, and put it on the Internet.”
In a study made in 2012, it was estimated that the top 25 most subscribed YouTube channels earned from $130.7 thousand to as high as $6.1 million in a year. This was solely based on their channel’s Adsense or cost per thousand impressions (CPM).
Although the question remains of whether YouTubers can be considered successful or professional, it is clear they chose a profitable occupation.