YouTube steers away from cats, draws in large community


In order to fully grasp what the explosive video-uploading Web site YouTube’s subculture is about, a quick run-down on basic YouTube law is a must. The community and Web site’s next generation of filmmakers, musicians, comedians and even make-up artists strive for viewer counts and subscribers.

But how does one get that big on YouTube? Charles Trippy, USF graduate and Tampa resident who has over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube, started on MySpace, he said. He needed a place to house videos and received bandwidth issues with MySpace. He finally stumbled upon YouTube in 2005.

After snagging YouTube celebrity, these “vloggers” (video blogging, if you will) rely on their viewers to buy products they sell. Many users start out on YouTube by watching funny or inspirational videos by a much bigger YouTuber. The only way a new user can find another YouTuber lives in the fact that the bigger user, featured on the front page, attracted them to watch their video. Some users, like ShaneDawsonTV (Shane Dawson), use outlandish video titles to draw in a new audience, but other users had to go through a process first.

The YouTube Partnership Program allows users with large audiences to seek ad revenue from their videos. Michael Buckley (WHATTHEBUCKSHOW on YouTube) said during a CNN interview that it used to be hard to become a partner, but nowadays if you have a little over 1,000 subscribers, you are taken into consideration for partnership. A lot of current ad revenue-receiving users have older videos that are not eligible for Google Ad Sense, but most of them are. The fact that YouTube is a career through the partnership program allures its top users. The freedom to be your own boss allows users to enjoy the experience.

“The highest perk is that you don’t have to answer to anybody,” Trippy said.

Thanks to the ever-growing YouTube community, larger YouTubers have been able to turn YouTube into a career. A prime example of this is the through the channel TheStation, which is actually several really big YouTubers, such as sxephil (Phil DeFranco), shaycarl, Dawson and LisaNova (Lisa Donovan) collaborating and making sketch-style videos. Donovan heads the group with her production company and most of the comedy lies within her. Because of YouTube, she has made several appearances on late-night comedy sketch MADTv.

In-the-public YouTube success is not rare at all. Buckley has a development deal with HBO, and if you’ve been to Hot Topic recently, you might notice an estranged cartoon-sketch picture with a title about it that reads “Fred.” Fred, played by Teen Choice Awards-winning actor Lucas Cruikshank, topped the YouTube Most Subscribed charts and reigned as number one for almost an entire year. He boasts around in YouTube history as the first user to make it to one million subscribers.

YouTube-grown musicians

While YouTube may be a fun place for comedic relief and subscriber competition, it is also a place of artistic expression. Around the world, users upload original songs, covers and how-tos on their favorite music, and others watch. Artists such as pop artists Justin Beiber (kidrahul on YouTube), acoustic rock band Boyce Avenue (boyceavenue) and ukulele-strumming Julia Nunes (jaaaaaaa) started off on YouTube and now see large tours and more success.

From the music side of YouTube sprang DFTBA Records, an independent record company that is co-owned by two YouTubers – Alan Lastufka and Hank Green (get this, they don’t live anywhere near each other) – and solely features YouTube artists. Collectively, DFTBA artists garner an audience of over 1.7 million viewers. Their latest release, Alex Day’s (nerimon on YouTube) CD Parrot Stories, becomes available Oct. 1.

Turning cyber world into real world

For YouTube users, gatherings such as 789 or just casual meetings with other users rise above all other reason to why YouTube is fun. Gatherings are usually regional but some are national, like YouTube Live, an event held in San Francisco Nov. 23, 2008, that featured major musical artists such as Katy Perry, Akon and as well as YouTube stars such as Buckley, Nunes and Bo Burnham.

“They’re [the gatherings] are pretty interesting,” Trippy said. “[A gathering] allows [the users] to get closer to people they watch versus the fictional person on the Internet that might not be real.”

Whether the YouTube community is a small or a large community is still up to debate, but it’s becoming a larger community versus a small one, Trippy said.

“There are two types of people who use YouTube. There are those who get chain e-mails to funny videos and people who actually use subscriptions,” Trippy said.

Getting webcams rolling on the tube

UNF freshman electronic media major Lizzie Russo is of the second type. She signed up for YouTube a year and a half ago after her friend posted a video by charlieissocoollike (Charlie McDonnell) on MySpace and said she “pretty much just uncovered the whole underground vlogging world.”

She then got a webcam shortly after. Russo used to make vlogs under her username lizzieradio, but now she performs original songs and covers of her favorite songs.

Russo was watching a live show of an “awesome vlogger” Myles Dyer (Blade376) when she met her first friend Sid, she said. From this friendship, Russo and Sid formed a collaboration channel — a channel in which a different user posts a video on their assigned day, a subgenre started by Green and his brother, New York Times Bestselling author John Green — where she and he met people from Canada, England, Ireland and New Zealand, she said.

“We all became besties,” Russo said.

Last year, Russo and Sid finally met in real life.

“It was sur-freaking-real,” she said. “It feels like you have met them before because you know them so well, but now they are in 3-D. It is awesome, and I highly recommend it.”

Russo said her friends think it’s kind of creepy that she talks to people who she’s never even met before, even though she said it’s “totally legit because you’re looking at their face!”

“[The best part of YouTube is] meeting the people, yo!” Russo said. “It’s awesome, and I have made connections around the world, so if I ever want to run away to another country, I have houses to crash at.”