Look out Hollywood, there’s a new kid on the block. Although eyes across the country were tuned into the Oscars last night, you can bet a few rising stars were being noticed online.
The YouTube phenomenon has captivated millions of people around the world since its launch in 2005. Kristen Jacobson, known professionally as Kristen Sarah, is just one of countless young people who have used the site to fast forward her career in the creative industry.
“I just quit my serving job to pursue it full time along with my acting and my writing. It’s allowed me to be creative and do what I really love to do, which is to entertain people and inform them and inspire them. It’s a great place to do that.”
Jacobson, a 27-year-old actress, has a degree in broadcast, radio, television and film production from Niagara College and wanted to combine her two loves of acting and production. She began her YouTube channel three years ago and has been increasingly active this past year. Her first trip to Paraguay at the age of 18 inspired her to incorporate her adventures around the world into her creative work. Her travel-themed YouTube channel currently has approximately 6500 subscribers and the number is quickly growing. She makes new videos every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Jacobson has begun monetizing her videos, acquiring more of her income through YouTube as her followers grow. Sites with more traffic will attract more advertisers. Generating income through YouTube is becoming more and more common as the names of prominent “YouTubers” become known around the globe. Other prominent online celebrities include Jenna Mourey, known by her pseudonym Jenna Marbles with over 12 million followers and Lilly Singh, known by her pseudonym IISuperwomanII with over two million subscribers. YouTube allows its users to monetize their videos as long as they meet these four criteria; (1) Your content is advertiser-friendly; (2) You created the content or have permission to use it commercially; (3) You are able to provide documentation proving you own commercial rights to all audio and video content; (4) Your content complies with YouTube’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.
“I’m still learning all about it. There’s so much to it. Basically how I’m making money now is off of ads. The ads that run before the videos; or sometimes in between. The companies pay YouTube and YouTube pays you,” Jacobson explains.
The site is often used as a forum for people to market themselves as actors, entertainers, directors, etc. Jacobson, for example, recently obtained a hosting gig on the children’s television network YTV through her YouTube presence. A YouTube video also launched none other than Justin Bieber’s music career in 2008, and he’s since become an international sensation.
YouTube has over 1 billion visitors each month, and Jacobson speculates that its popularity stems from the personal touch that isn’t offered by Hollywood icons. Most YouTube videos, even by the biggest names in the online world, are filmed in a casual setting of the individual’s choosing; often their homes. Most videos are written, produced and edited by the individual. “It’s a personal experience. When you’re following a blogger, you can ask them a question and you get a response. The audience has built a relationship with the blogger or the YouTuber and they trust them.” This personal connection seems to be at the heart of the social media revolution and really differentiates the YouTube generation from its predecessors.
“It’s a very interesting world, the YouTube world. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and I think it will keep on changing, but I don’t think it’s going to surpass Hollywood. Movies, television and Hollywood have been there for so long and nothing is going to overcome it.”
Hollywood, you’re still on top…for now.
By Jessica Vomiero