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How Do They Do It? The Rising Fame and Fortune of YouTube Celebrities

The Telegraph

University? Forget it. Apprenticeship? No thanks. Who needs education or an industrial trade when you have a webcam and an opinion.

Way back in 2007, an amateur video shot by a mother and posted on YouTube of a son singing catapulted pre-pubescent Bieber into the fame and adoration of millions. Whilst his popularity may have deteriorated since then, YouTube's power to create a new kind of celebrity is showing no signs of slowing down.

A survey conducted by Variety last year found that the five most influential figures amongst young Americans were all YouTube sensations, based on their approachability and authenticity as compared to conventional celebs. Whilst this new fame phenomenon may not receive the coverage of conventional media, it doesn't really need it; internet culture is itself a huge platform for rising stars. Your mother may not know who Jenna Marbles or PewDiePie are, but I bet your l2 year-old sister and her 1,000+ Facebook friends do.

Earlier this year it was reported by various news sites that Zoella, a UK-based fashion and beauty 'vlogger' who has been active on the site since 2009, had bought a £1 million mansion in Brighton thanks to her online earnings. Such is the power of her posts she charges upwards of £20,000 per month for product placement and advertisements in her videos.

As a millennial myself, the concept seems astounding. Could it really be as easy as sitting in front of a camera, enthusiastically streaming your stream of consciousness in the hope that eventually someone, somewhere will find your most-likely-poorly-informed-but-brash-as-hell opinion moderately entertaining? Apparently so.

The first YouTube celebrities emerged from one-hit-wonder viral videos - anyone remember Charlie and the brother whose finger he bit? That 55-second clip earned his parents £300,000 in advertising and merchandise. If that's not a good incentive to procreate then I don't know what is.

What about Grumpy Cat? His owner Tabetha Bundesen quit her job to concentrate fully on her feline's career; it seemingly paid off, as the moggie earned more than Gwyneth Paltrow in 2014 (her career has probably been in decline for a while, but still pretty damn impressive for a cat).

But how do these YouTubers generate money? It's pretty simple. Those ads you always skip? They're called prerolls. After every 1000 pre-rolls shown, YouTube makes some income. If your channel has a substantial amount of subscribers and channel views (by substantial, we're talking 1000+ subscribers minimum) then you can become a YouTube partner and earn a cut. As a rough estimate, for every 1000 times a pre-roll is shown on a YouTuber's video, the partner can earn around $7. Not an overwhelming amount in isolation, but obviously this is largely dependent on the type of advertisement and the volume of views. Blockbuster films are naturally going to bring in more bucks than smaller-scale ventures.

Check out the list of top 10 earners:-

#10: RealAnnoyingOrange – $3.4 million (2.7b views)
#9: UberHaxorNova – $3.5 million (1.5b views)
#8: RayWilliamJohnson – $4 million (2.9b views)
#7: TobyGames – $4.2 million (1.8b views)
#6: JennaMarbles – $4.3 million (1.7b views)
#5: Smosh – $6 million (4.5b views)
#4: BluCollection – $6.5 million (3.78b views)
#3: YOGSCAST (formerly BlueXephos) – $6.7 million (3b views)
#2: Funtoys Collector (formerly DisneyCollectorBR) – $8 million (7b views)
#1: Pewdiepie – $12 million (9.3b views)



But, you know, what goes up must come down: YouTube can be a contributory factor in the downfall of these celebrities. Justin Bieber's fall from grace came in the form of several incriminating videos on the site including him urinating in a restaurant, getting arrested, and generally being an all-round giant asshat. The Kony 2012 campaign went viral in its first two weeks, with 85 million users watching the docu-pledge to bring an African militia leader to justice.

However, director Jason Russell received unwanted online attention for his public meltdown; he was filmed meandering around the streets of San Diego completely naked, gesturing manically and muttering all kinds of gibberish to himself including incantations of the devil. Riiiiiiight. I think your campaign to catch a crazy man instilling fear and terror is somewhat negated when there is YouTube proof that you are in fact a crazy man instilling fear and terror.

The question is: Is the phenomenon here to stay? I'm slightly unconvinced. To the contrary, celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev believes it will get even bigger. He predicts that within five years, YouTube stars will consume the entire top-20 celebrity influencer list. Seems incredulous, but he probably knows a bit more than me to be fair. Only time will tell!



SMF rookie, fresh out of academia, looking forward to more creative ventures. With a love of current affairs, green tea and an ever insatiable wanderlust, Katie is ready to have her voice heard. Follow her @KatieAtSMF


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How Do They Do It? The Rising Fame and Fortune of YouTube Celebrities Reviewed by Katie Gascoyne on Friday, October 16, 2015 Rating: 5

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