Fame and Fortune: The Power of YouTube
By Julie Lamb | @juliedlambWhat do Justin Bieber, Colbie Caillat, Soulja Boy, and Sean Kingston all have in common? Aside from being celebrities/singers, they all started out simply by posting amateur videos of themselves on the Internet, and after developing a large following online, were fortunate enough to “get discovered” by important people in the music industry.
It may be easy to discount these stories as pure luck and claim that such successes don’t justify all the time that many YouTubers spend making videos. But the truth is that the path from YouTube sensation to professional musician is becoming more and more common, and this trend does not show signs of slowing down any time soon.
As long a there are people willing to post their talent online, music executives now have an easy, free way to search for budding new stars without ever leaving their couches. More importantly, they no longer have to be limited to their city, state, or even their country.
Take the story of Arnel Pined, who has been the lead singer of the band Journey since 2007. Prior to 2007, Pineda performed in various groups at nightclubs in Hong Kong and the Philippines but finally got his big break when his friend posted videos of his performances on YouTube. At that time, Journey was looking for a new lead singer, and after holding numerous unsatisfying auditions, they turned to YouTube as their last hope...and found exactly what they were looking for in Arnel Pineda.
You could still say that Pineda was lucky, since in order to find the “diamonds in the rough” on YouTube, one must to sift through a huge amount of bizarre, inappropriate, or clearly talentless videos. However, between the number of views, “likes,” the comment section, and the ease of finding videos that have gone viral by posts on Facebook and Twitter, YouTube is still a relatively easy and efficient way to discover the next big star, in music or otherwise. Plus, with its global popularity, YouTube puts the world at your fingertips, which increases the chances that any talent-seeking executive will find someone who fits exactly what they are looking for.
Finding success through YouTube is not just for musicians though. With YouTube’s Partner Program, even average people can earn a living by following their passion. As long as they create a video that enough people find interesting, they can start bringing home the bacon with a simple click of the upload button.
For example, Megan Parken, now 15, began creating video tutorials on make up, fashion, and “life advice” the summer before she entered 8th grade. Although her YouTube channel was popular only with girls even younger than Megan, she was still able to get an average of 100,000 views per video. Through YouTube’s partner program and the companies whose brands she mentioned, she earned enough money to buy her first car and start saving money for college. In fact, she has been so successful that, with support from her parents and her teachers, she quit high school after 9th grade so that she could have more time to devote to her videos and to interact with her fans.
Which brings us to an important point, for both individuals and businesses alike: every YouTube sensation, from Justin Bieber to Megan Parken, understands that it is not enough to simply post a video or two, find some success, and then expect it to last. In order to maintain and continue to grow your fan base in this fast-paced, social media-obsessed world, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to interact with your followers on Twitter and continually post new content on Facebook and YouTube. The minute you stop, your content appears old and you become a “has-been.” Remember, there is always going to be some budding new star or innovative business only one upload away from taking your place.