Can Youtube Create Careers?
By Madhura Anandarajah
Let’s talk ‘team internet’. If you consider yourself part of the Youtube community, you will have noticed many of your favourite Youtubers dabbling in music, whether doing so successfully or not, fan support tend to be unconditional.
The question at hand; can Youtubers actually make it into mainstream music?
Let me start off my saying that the platform in itself is becoming mainstream. Youtubers like Pewdiepie (27 million subscribers), SMOSH (20 million subscribers) and Jenna Marbles (15 million subscribers) make big money (in the millions) solely from the number of subscribers and views they receive. But it is time to recognize the power of the internet because it is now legitimately questionable whether going mainstream is even necessary to hit the big bucks thanks to countless success stories (few of them mentioned above), but to some fans’ dismay these two worlds are already bridged. Increasingly today, mainstream television is recognizing the appeal of Youtube and the views that often over-rank them and as such, successful Youtubers are being invited to red carpet events, hosting and being invited on television talk shows. Tyler Oakley is an excellent example in actively transitioning from Youtube to TV and his army of fans are succeeding in making him a household name for the younger generation. A few of his accomplishments included being invited to the White house to meet President Obama, guest-starred on the Ellen Degeneres show and The View’. He has to date interviewed numerous A-listers including One Direction, Jessie J, and Darren Criss himself starred in one of his homemade Youtube videos.
If you have charisma, bring some innovation and hard work into a now overly saturated platform that is Youtube, there is a chance of success rivalling that of celebrities. What about music? The first few names that come to mind of those who found success as singers founded on Youtube is of course Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly (talent show rejects often turn to Youtube to continue releasing music to fans they gained during the show) and the new find of Charlie Puth who sang in the heart-breaking Paul Walker tribute ‘See you again’ featuring Wiz Khalifa. Today the Youtube community would not coin these artists as Youtubers as the definition has become more rigid. It is no longer a lose term where as long as you post any videos on the site, you become officially recognized as such. A Youtuber today is recognized as someone who produces content regularly, has Q&A videos from time to time, may engage in daily vlogging and most certainly ends each and every video asking for ‘likes’ and ‘hitting the subscribe button’ from their viewers. Following THIS definition, the success stories from Youtubers to mainstream singers strongly decreases.
So there are two questions to be answered; in terms of success and hitting mainstream radio; Youtubers can (and have) been able to build up a huge following by producing music on Youtube and also make good cash. They are able to tour, sell their songs on iTunes and make albums all made possible through this platform, however the crossover of artists who actually make it on the radio playlist loop is still a rare occurrence and arguably harder for a music-based youtuber to make this transition than a comedy-oriented Youtuber making it into TV or film such as Grace Helbig and Miranda Sings.
Successful Viners often pursue Youtube (as internet personalities tend to embrace as many ways to put out content as possible) and as such Cameron Dallas, IISuperwomanII and Ricky Dillon are currently dabbling in music. Thus far, I would only go as far as ‘dabbling’ to describe the quality of music released, they have yet to find their footing. Trevor Moran perhaps vocally more apt in achieving greater recognition and lyrically superior to his Youtube rivals, he has been in the music scene longer and has consistently shot high class music videos but none have yet reached the quality to make it all the way. Perhaps the closest to crossing that line is the young duo Jack & Jack. Jack Johnson has raw talent when it comes to writing and delivering lyric with his handsome counterpart who takes care of the melodic choruses. They have already been invited to ‘The View’ for their first performance and I will blame nerves for the awful performance just this once.
A must-mention is Rebecca Black who of course managed to kill her career with a pre-teen song that entailed petrifyingly awful lyric that bordered on parody like content; ‘Friday’. She received an incredible amount of negative media yet much to one’s surprise, Youtube was essential in reviving her career too. After appearing in Katy Perry’s Good Samaritan move in ‘Last Friday Night’ to lash back at ‘them haterz’, it triggered something powerful. Black managed to pick herself up and set up a new channel on the same platform where she was so hated. She is now a Youtuber and has accumulated more than 1 million subscribers and very daringly released a song ‘Saturday’ which made hilarious references to ‘Friday’, hugely improved vocals and lacking any cringe-worthy video moments.
So there you have it, Youtube can make careers, break careers and we are still waiting for a ‘proper’ to have their music on repeat on radio stations all over the world, which will surely happen sooner rather than later.