YouTubers: A New Type of Celebrity
“It should be harder to be an artist. You shouldn’t just be able to put a song on YouTube and go out on tour,” Miley Cyrus commented on Rebecca Black’s overnight stardom. As YouTube has grown into a revolutionary social media platform that uses videos to entertain and inform viewers, it has also created a different kind of celebrity. There is even a yearly event called VidCon that is the world’s largest conference dedicated to the medium of online video. This conference gathers online video viewers, creators and industry representatives from all over the world.
There are billions of viewers who follow specific YouTubers who consistently upload videos. As a result, when certain YouTubers reach a certain number of views, they also reach a certain level of fame and begin to receive attention from mainstream media. For example, Ronald Jenkees is an American composer and musician who uploaded videos of himself performing his songs on his keyboard. By promoting himself on YouTube, Jenkees recieved attention from the G4 channel and Paste Magazine. Then, Bill Simmons from ESPN.com asked Jenkees to record his podcast theme. Since then, Jenkees has released two albums that are now available for purchase at the iTunes Store or on his personal website. Several of his songs were included in the videogame “Sequence” and have appeared in track listings of Pandora Radio and Spotify.
Phillip DeFranco is another American video blogger who has become a YouTube celebrity with his channel. He is best known for his YouTube show, The Phillip DeFranco Show where he talks about news and pop culture that he finds interesting or important. He has over 1 billion views and over 2.2 million subscribers. In 2008 he won Wired’s Sexiest Geek competition. In October 2008, Philip DeFranco co-starred in Hooking Up, a scripted 10-episode Web-based series written by Woody Tondorf as a promo from HBOLabs.
During the presidential election race, DeFranco was invited to join distinguished journalists at the 2012 Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention as part of YouTube’s “Elections Hub” channel. This channel included ABC News Digital, Larry King, The New York Times, Univision, Buzzfeed, Al Jeezeera English, Wall Street Journal, and Philip DeFranco to bring together different perspectives under one channel to share news coverage. DeFranco’s videos for this project were a huge success receiving tens of thousands of viewers while most major news networks were struggling to reach 1,000 views.
DeFranco has recently signed on to work with Revision3, an Internet television network that creates, produces and distributes web television shows on niche topics. He is also the Main Editor for Sourcefed.com, a newsfeed blog site that focuses on current events, pop-culture, and media coverage. As a result of DeFranco’s huge success, he has also dedicated himself to being a helpful mentor in the online community for new talent.
As YouTube continues to grow, so will the level of fame of YouTube celebrities who have made a career from their YouTube channels. Ronald Jenkees and Philip DeFranco are only two of many who have created their own careers and profited as a result of uploading videos and developing a large fan-base.