Thursday, 2 October 2008

YouTube Fame


This post got accidentally published a few days ago, any people who use RSS readers will have already seen an unedited version of it! One in particular (John Lacey) even replied to it in his blog, which seems all upside-down. But anyway, that's what happened.

Back in August I got a message from a guy who was (at the time) hovering just below me in subscribers. Now he has a good deal more than me, but I digress. It went something exactly like this:

"hey man -- how do you know so many famous youtube people? haha"

I'm not trying to attack him directly but I had a few problems with that. It got me thinking; "No! No! The whole thinking behind the question is wrong! I never thought I would say it but that was a wrong question!"

How do I know so many famous YouTube people? Well... I, um, it's probably because they're not famous!

YouTube fame is such an illusion. Sure, some guy (and then someone else) drew my picture and that was very cool, but in the end he is one guy who I may never meet.

I have 1,240 subscribers to date and of those about 800-900 actually watch, which sounds like a lot but really it isn't. That is a smaller audience than the local Gold Coast newsreader plus they are scattered all over the world! The only place they all come together is on YouTube which, while it is a real 'place' where real things happen, in the end it's a website.

In his reply to my unedited version of this blog, John insisted that YouTube fame is real fame - it's widespread recognition sans the glamour. I don't disagree with this, but the fame you acquire online almost never (emphasis on never) flows into "real life".

Ze Frank is a marvelous example - he is probably one of the most influential people on the internet. His social network is vast and highly motivated but he is far from being a household name. His fame, while considerable in the right circles still isn't what we would usually call 'fame'.

Even the people in the top ten most subscribed aren't household names despite having over half a million subscribers. If you're looking to be famous you're still better off doing an internship with a TV station or something and working your way up.

My friends and I aren't famous either. When I had lunch with Liv and Mitto the other day we joked about getting free doughnuts from Krispy Kreme because "don't they know who we ARE?!" My friends were even less famous when I started talking to them.

I suppose if the original question needs a proper answer then this is it: I know these 'famous' people because I made friends with (most of) them before they got well-known.

I know for a fact that there will be others who will become 'famous' too. You need to make friends with people regardless of where you think they'll go. If they're successful then they're successful. If not they're still your friend and you should stop being so damn shallow.

I didn't actually answer that way though. I just said:
"There is no such thing as YouTube fame. It is all an illusion."
and I never heard another word from him.

I'm a bit afriad that if he sees this he might think I'm trying to attack him. That is completely not my intention! I think he is past asking me for advice but I'm afraid that the search for "YouTube fame" and being associated with the right people on the site is something too many people fall into - thus this post.

Trust me though, it's all mirrors and smoke. People rise and fall and you could chase subscribers forever and never get to the bottom of that hole - there's always one more to be had.


  1. Ah. Yes, that guy. lol (Enough said.)

    I remember Terry (Zipster08) talking on Stickam about a complaint he got on one of his videos that he only replied "to famous people." In truth he was just replying to his friends, people who had mostly been around for as long as he had... and through the attrition of time (and perhaps as an extension of knowing him, lol) had developed similar followings.

    I guess what I'm wondering at this point is... If I send you free doughnuts will the fame be discounted by me being your friend? Can an individual be a fan and a friend simultaneously?

    Eh. I should probably stop asking (boring/serious) questions. I get the feeling this post may never have existed at all without my preempting it. lol. I apologise.

  2. Haha aww that's okay. Actually I'm kind of glad you 'made' me post this, because I considered not posting it, but now I'm pretty happy with it.

    I think it's totally possible to be a fan and a friend at the same time. I'm a fan/friend of a lot of my friends on YouTube.