Rise of the Content Creator
LEVEL UP YOUR ENTERTAINMENT GAME
They’re out there. You may not have heard of them yet but you will. They are content creators.
Currently, they can be found carving out a thriving industry of their own on the internet. It is an industry full of original, creative and entertaining artists with massive audiences and influence. These people are writers, producers, directors, editors, marketers, graphic designers, web developers and performers all rolled into one. You may not recognize their names yet but you will. They are working hard every day to be seen and heard by the masses. And it’s working. Every day, they break through the boundaries of internet video and expand their reach across the globe. This year will certainly be monumental for content creators and it has already begun.
The first season of The Amazing Race in 2016 features popular online personalities. Specifically, two of the creative minds behind the internet content behemoth known as Rooster Teeth, Bernie Burns and Ashley Jenkins. While discussing the Amazing Race with family and friends I discovered the term Rooster Teeth was a complete mystery to them. They had no idea Burns helped create one of the largest content networks on the web. I started mentioning terms like streaming, web series, podcasts, let’s plays and more. I was met with blank faces.
To be honest. That’s fair.
Not everyone follows movies, television, video games and technology and many people are unaware of the huge amount of content out there. But it’s not just about ‘nerdy’ content. There are channels built around every topic you can think of and these channels are exploding with new content daily.
That is why it’s important for people like Bernie and Ashley to appear on popular shows like The Amazing Race. People need to know about the wonderful personalities the web has given us over the last decade. The world of online content creation is erupting! So let’s level up your entertainment game shall we?
A content creator is someone who produces videos for sites like YouTube. They create a channel and focus the content on their interests. (For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on video game/movie/television related content.) If creators are successful, people who share their interests will subscribe and their channel grows. They start producing more content, the production value gets better and their audience grows even more. While some of the pioneers of online content creation were growing their channels, popular streaming services like Netflix changed the way people consume entertainment. A new distribution model formed with entire seasons of content unleashed on the same day. The term BINGE WATCH became a way of life. People loved to stream their favorite movies, television shows and music. We now live in a world of instant and seemingly unlimited entertainment. Content creators on the web were able to take the idea of instant content to another level.
In addition to creating fully produced videos for the web, savvy entertainers began live streaming using popular websites like Twitch and YouTube new live functionality. Imagine a television sitcom you adore. Now imagine the ability to connect, chat and speak directly to the star of the show live. This happens every day on the web. It brings people closer to the creators they follow. Some of the most popular live streams involve video games. People tune in by the thousands to watch their favorite players play. You read that right. Watching other people play video games is a real thing and it is immensely popular. (So is competitive gaming but that’s an article for another day with statistics you won’t believe!)
Online content creation changed the way traditional media outlets cover video games. You can’t rely on preview articles and trailers anymore. Video game studios now strive to get their games in the hands of popular content creators. Gamers that fans trust. These gamers produce videos and live streams focused on the gameplay and give their opinion as they play. Reviews are no longer restricted to the written word. You can experience a new game live if you’re on the fence about purchasing it for yourself.
One such gamer is Felix Kjellberg. You may not recognize that name but you may have heard of his alter ego: PewDiePie. With over 40 million subscribers, PewDiePie is one of the most influential YouTubers (that’s a real term) of all time. His videos attract millions of views on a daily basis. What’s that worth in dollars? Try 7+ million a year! Kjellberg actually addressed his income in a video after it made national headlines. It SHOULD make national headlines. That’s an unbelievable number and he’s not the only one! There are popular Youtubers around the world buying huge houses and creating studios of their own thanks to revenue their videos generate online.
It doesn’t end there. In 2015, YouTube announced a new service called YouTube Red. The subscription based platform offers videos free of advertisements, the ability to watch videos offline and the introduction of exclusive original content. Front and center in this new endeavor? PewDiePie. His new series ‘Scare PewDiePie’ can only be seen if you pay for YouTube Red. As services like this grow, more and more content creators will be given opportunities to create bigger and better programming. More visibility. More recognizable faces in the main stream.
Not too long ago, the idea of creating content online was restricted to hobbyists and the nerdiest of nerds. It has since developed into a full blown career opportunity. I’m Canadian. In the year 2000 an NBA superstar by the name of Vince Carter gave us one of the greatest slam dunk competitions of all time. The event put the Toronto Raptors on the map in a big way but it also inspired an entire generation of youth. Now, Canadian players like Andrew Wiggins grew up idolizing Vince Carter are being drafted #1 overall in the NBA. I believe a similar trend is happening right now on the web at a much more accelerated pace. How many kids are watching YouTube instead of television today? Children are learning to create their own content. They are discovering their creativity earlier and earlier and that’s great news. Imagine what the next generation of content creators will accomplish. It certainly won’t take 10-15 years to find out. It’s happening right now.
People are making videos all over the world. They don’t always find success but their ambition is infectious. There’s an audience ready to devour any topic you can think of. You just need a good idea and the dedication to pull it off.
Let’s say you start your own channel, with enough viewers/subscribers there are tons of opportunities to earn a steady income through advertisements and sponsorship deals. That’s just the beginning. Websites like Patreon.com offer creators the ability to offer perks in exchange for monthly subscriptions. Creators like Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Nick Scarpino & Tim Gettys. The best friends behind Kinda Funny.
Kinda Funny formed in 2015 (officially) when the four founders quit their jobs at popular gaming site IGN. They used Patreon to their advantage offering exclusive episodes, early access and a look behind the scenes of their content. In early 2016, they were able to earn enough to produce their own animated series. Let’s back up for a second. These creators are able to live their dreams and produce podcasts, live shows, videos and even their own animated series because of the support of their fans. Fans they refer to as best friends. Hundreds of thousands of people support Kinda Funny because they love their content. That’s only the beginning of what’s possible when you cultivate a dedicated audience like the Kinda Funny Best Friends.
Which brings me back to Rooster Teeth.
Rooster Teeth now operates out of a dedicated studio capable of producing any type of content you can imagine. They even run their own convention attended by thousands of people around the world. In 2015, they produced Let’s Play Live: The Documentary and their first feature film Lazer Team. All this is possible because of the opportunities earned by creating content their audiences adores.
You read that right. A YouTube channel can grow an audience large enough to make producing feature films a reality and it doesn’t end there.
EMMY AWARD WINNING CONTENT CREATORS?
It was recently announced that content creators are now eligible to win an EMMY!
“New categories include outstanding actor and actress in a short form series, outstanding short form series, variety, and the redefinition of two other categories as outstanding short form series, comedy or drama, and outstanding short form series, reality/nonfiction. It won’t be difficult finding space for the races.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
This allows networks like Maker Studios, Fullscreen, Crackle, Awesomeness TV, YouTube Red, Adult Swim and more the chance for even more visibility. These expanded rules don’t affect the ‘little’ channels yet but it’s a huge step in the right direction for hard working content creators out there.
They may not be winning Emmy awards yet but they’re out there. Waiting to be discovered. Ready to entertain.