As an artist, I want to be discovered. I want to be able to share my films with the whole world. So maybe one day, I would be able to change the way people perceive the world; I would be able to leave an impact, make a difference, and eventually bring people from all around the world together. And since we live in a world where a person simply cannot survive without money, I would love to make a good amount of money that I can support myself with, and produce more films. If I had said all of this to you before social media was born, you might sit there and think… ‘hmmm this girl is a little bit too optimistic, and perhaps totally unrealistic’. But we live in a world where this is all very possible. A filmmaker, a singer, a dancer, or a comedian, could upload their art on any social media platform, and will get some sort of recognition. One social media platform that many performers and artists use and embrace, is YouTube.

But before YouTube and other social media platforms came about, artists were discovered through their live performances, the sharing of their physical mixtapes, or word of mouth. Although these means allow physical interaction between the artists and their audience (fans or agents and managers), they are still expensive, slow, time consuming, and reach a small number of people. An artist would have to sing on the street for a whole day in hopes that one of the people who pass by him is a music producer.The Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald was discovered during one of her performances at the Apollo Theater’s amateur night. Frank Sinatra, the Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, was discovered when he was waiting on tables and singing at the Rustic Cabin. The legendary Tupac Shakur was also discovered through his live rap performance in Digital Underground’s “Same Song”.

After social media emerged, artists could share their art from the comfort of their homes. Soulja Boy  paved his path to fame through his constant use of MySpace and YouTube. After publishing his hit single Crank That, hip hop producer Mr. Collipark got him a deal with Interscope Records. Some artists are not even looking for fame or money when they share their video, but it comes to them anyway. Justin Bieber’s mom posted a homemade performance video of her son singing on YouTube to share it with her family and friends. Little did she know that manager Scooter Braun would discover her son’s talent, and convince Island Def Jam Recordings to sign a contract with The Biebs. Later in his career, JB discovered the Canadian sensation  Carly Rae Jepsen on YouTube. With one tweet from his account her song Call me Maybe went viral.


YouTube Logo by redsoul300

YouTube became a talent search engine. However, this talent engine is not only used by producers and managers looking for talent, it is also used by ordinary people. And these ordinary people could potentially become the reason why a user becomes successful and scores a job on YouTube. See, YouTube allows users to upload their videos and share them with the rest of the world. The rest of the world becomes the users’ audience. To catch the audience’s attention over a long period, the users must constantly create unique and creative content. This audience is able to create interpersonal relationships with the users by commenting, subscribing, messaging, and even liking or disliking their videos. Users and their audiences have a shared space, shared practices, shared identities, and shared support and resources. Once they build a fan base, they are able to monetize their videos; aka allowing YouTube to place ads in your videos. Once they have done all the above, they can become YouTube partners. They would be able to make money by doing something they love.

You do not even have to be a singer, dancer, actor, filmmaker or a visual artist to become a


Jenna Marbles at UIUC by Priten Vora

YouTube partner. One of the most famous YouTube sensations Jenna Marbles, says in one of her videos that she does not have any tangible talents, and that she is only famous and is able to make a living by being herself. Being yourself and showing the audience what it is like to be you is now a part of entertainment thanks to YouTube. Seems pretty easy for Jenna Marbles, but not all YouTube partners have a net worth of $2.5 million like Jenna Marbles. Some YouTubers find that there is divide between internet fame and financial stability that prevents them from getting a second job though they really need it. Others eventually find themselves uploading videos of stunts, pranks, fights, and other dangerous and unethical actions to gain fame on YouTube. YouTube is a great place for people to share their talents or lifestyles and make some money out of it. It is easy, cheap, fast, and allows users to reach out to the rest of the world. However, I believe that this job comes with great responsibility since the content a user is sharing could possibly reach people of different ages and beliefs. Also, constant contact with fans is expected and is necessary for a YouTuber to maintain his/her success.

YouTube changed the face of entertainment.



3 thoughts on “YouTube and Social Media Fame

  1. Youtube fame. Ahhh this is such a fascinating concept. Take it back a decade or so, at the start of Youtube or even before that, and who could’ve guessed that there would be people making a living off making videos? And the assortment of genres that have evolved. Niches have been carved out of the Youtube sphere, which has allowed for some people to rise to the top and gain fame that way. Communities are created that revolve around certain topics, ranging from anywhere between very specific interests, such as League of Legends, to broader communities that produce content like Reaction Videos (FineBros). Whatever it may be, youtube stars/channels have their own way of breaking it big in. And there are some people that can make a ton of money off it. Pewdiepie, Youtube’s current #1 subscribed youtube channel is estimated to earn anywhere from $13-$29 million USD per year! That is an incredible amount of money that almost seems unbelievable. It attests to the power of youtube and its true ability to turn someone into a star. While that person may not necessarily be a world-known name, like someone from Hollywood might be, their fame is nevertheless, very real, evident by their earnings and fans online. They may not be as prominent, but to dismiss their fame would be incorrect.
    I like the fact that you address the fact that people have to continually produce content to hold onto their fans. Even if it doesn’t necessarily make them money, making youtube videos take up lots of time. I would like to introduce one former youtuber by the name of Kevjumba. At the height of his popularity, kevjumba had nearly 3 million subcribers and consistently produced content. However, even with his fame, the money and television exposure that he received, there is a side to the life that many people who wish to be youtube famous are not aware of. The time commitment is immense. Kevjumba actually left college because he could not allocate time to both schooling and making content for his channel. So there was that big sacrifice that he had to make. Producing new content for fans is not the only concern that youtubers have to face. There is also stiff competition. Like you said, anyone can be famous because of youtube now, so there is something that channels have to do to distinguish themselves from others. After that, people have to do whatever it takes to hold onto their fans and continually gain more. That can be a lot to handle. Kevjumba is probably one of the few examples of big name youtubers to have quit even though his life was seemingly good as a star. He quit producing content for his channel and has also made all of his former videos unavailable to be seen, essentially scrubbing away his channel. While fans who stuck with him for a while may be saddened by his absence, there are also many other users who may have never heard of him because he left. It is the nature of youtube. People have to do a lot to stay relevant.

  2. In a recent 2014 survey (by Variety), 13-18 year olds were shown to prefer YouTube stars to Hollywood celebrities; in fact, the top five most influential celebrity figures chosen were YouTube stars – ranked above figures like Jennifer Lawrence. Though I find that shocking, the appeal of YouTube fame and fandom is magnetizing. In our culture, its established that basically anyone can become famous or internet-popular. Even Dina admits she dreams of it! YouTube as a platform is approachable and people-oriented, but so are its stars, and this is why they’re so appealing. People feel like YouTubers are authentic, open, and willing to interact with fans – they’re just everyday people showing you what their life or humor is like. It might not be easy, like you and Kevin pointed out, but it is part of our culture to consider Youtube fame an achievable goal, and a admirable one.

    Interestingly, in our age group, the 18-24 year olds, 54% chose to follow TV or movie stars versus 51% who preferred keeping up with YouTube stars (as compared to 59% and 53% of the younger groups). This isn’t a huge majority, but it’s still a majority leaning towards old Hollywood life. I would probably vote TV/movie stars too. Makes ME, a 19 year old, feel old school! You’re totally right in saying YouTube is changing the entertainment industry. In 30 years, will Hollywood be outdated? Weird.

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