The Rise of YouTubers: From Early Days to Micro-Celebrities and Influencers!
A YouTuber, also known as a YouTube content creator, is a type of videographer or entertainer who creates videos for the video-sharing website YouTube, sometimes supported by a network. Some YouTubers also have corporate sponsors who pay for product placements in their clips or produce online videos. These individuals who create content on YouTube are often called “influencers.”
The Origins of YouTubers and YouTube’s Early Days:
The term “YouTuber” refers to a person or persons whose main or sole platform is a YouTube channel, which is their personal page on the video-sharing platform for sharing YouTube videos.
On February 14, 2005, the internet domain name “www.youtube.com” was activated by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim when they were working for PayPal. The first YouTube channel, “Jawed,” was created by one of the co-founders on April 23, 2005, at PDT (April 24, 2005, UTC). He uploaded the first YouTube video, a short vlog clip of him at the zoo, on the same day. In October 2005, YouTube presented the ability to subscribe to YouTube channels.
The Evolution of YouTube’s Relationship with Talent and the Introduction of the Partner Program:
The New York Times claims that by 2006, the majority of YouTube videos were focused on various talents, featuring backflip stunts, lip-syncing, and people uploading clips of their skills, such as clips from Saturday Night Live. By June 2006, established Hollywood and music industry firms began establishing formal commercial relationships with “homegrown” YouTube talent – first with comedian blogger Brookers (through Carson Daly), then singer Justin Bieber (through Usher), and finally physician-political-satirist Bassem Youssef
In 2007, YouTube launched its “Partner Program,” an advertising revenue-sharing system that allowed YouTubers to earn a percentage of the ad revenue from their content.
Impact on Society:
In July 2019, PewDiePie was the most subscribed person on the platform. According to multiple studies, YouTubers have become an important source of information and entertainment for both millenniums and generations. Influential YouTubers are often described as micro-celebrities. Since YouTube is imagined as a vast social media video platform, micro-celebrities do not fit within established celebrity culture and commercial systems, but instead, appear self-governed and autonomous. This presence, however, has resulted in YouTubers being seen as more trustworthy and authentic, and also inspired a direct relationship between the artists and the audience using the medium of YouTube.
These micro-celebrities often engage in conversation with their viewers, which gives a more personalized perspective. Content creators on YouTube create a variety of content, including vlogs, educational, how-to, informative videos, and much more.
The Growing Influence of YouTube Personalities: Survey Results and Scientific Studies:
In a survey conducted by the University of Southern California in 2014 among the 13-18 age group in the United States, it was said that if 10 YouTube personalities or 10 traditional celebrities were compared for their influence, YouTube personalities took the top five spots, with Smosh ranking the most influential. When the survey was repeated in 2015, the top six YouTubers were ranked, with KSI being placed as the most influential.
Several prominent YouTubers and their influence, such as Zoella and PewDiePie, have been the subject of scientific studies. Due to the level of influence, Robert Hovden argued for the creation of a new index similar to the G-index and H-index to assess the output and influence of an individual.
How YouTubers Earn Money and Become Successful:
YouTubers can earn money through Google AdSense. Additionally, they can supplement their income through affiliate links, merchandise, and third-party subscriptions like Patreon. Popular channels have attracted corporate sponsors who pay to be featured in their videos. In 2018, Walmart and Nordstrom, among others, looked for YouTube stars to collaborate with them as influencers.
In 2015, NME declared that “Blogging has become big business.” Forbes reported in 2015 that Felix Kjellberg, known on YouTube as PewDiePie, made $12 million in 2014, surpassing some popular actors like Cameron Diaz or Gwyneth Paltrow. In addition, YouTube stars have crossed over to other media platforms, including late-night television like Canadian YouTuber Lilly Singh, who hosts her own talk show, A Little Late with Lilly Singh, on NBC.
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