Kids today see online videos as just another kind of conversation, reports Noel Murray in The New York Times (10/5/15). This is great for YouTube, as “year to year, the number of hours people spend watching videos … keeps growing — up 50 percent over last year,” according to “the site’s own statistics page.” Most interesting is that “a lot of those watchers make the transition to becoming creators.” This has paid off in a big way for Joseph Garrett, better known to YouTubers as Stampylonghead, “who started posting Minecraft-themed videos when he was a teenager.” Today, he’s in his mid-20s “and has a deal with Maker Studios, a producer of short-form videos and a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.”
However, “viewers under 18 are not seeing the Internet as a farm system for Hollywood, the way major studios hope.” YouTube stars like Stampylonghead and Emile Rosales (aka Chuggaaconroy) “are less interested in personal branding than in sharing their enthusiasm.” Emile has “nearly a million subscribers to his YouTube channel and more than 760 million views” of his videos. He makes enough money at this that he has no other job, but he does “not have much day-to-day interaction with anyone at YouTube.” Most of his followers found him simply by following the “if you liked that, try this” suggestions YouTube provides.
Fans not only post comments but also “their own artwork and response videos.” While “YouTube has built production facilities — called Space — to provide their best-known creators with access to soundstages and equipment,” many of the site’s most popular creators are loved “for their handmade charm, not their professional polish.” Some of their fans don’t “know or care much about the people making their favorite videos.” They are more interested in developing their own video-making chops and generating a response of their own. This “transition from watching to creating happened quickly and naturally” and has “spawned a world of its own,” far away from that of television and Hollywood.