Long-Tail Celebrities Won’t Get Famous and May Not Care

Here’s an excerpt of a wonderful post on Cracked.com titled “YouTubers That Will Never Be Famous.” It’s an opportunity for me to “clear the air” about being a self-proclaimed “weblebrity” (which is, you see, rather distinct from being a celebrity). LONG post, here, folks but this one is jam-packed with delicious goodness.

The internet is a big place, but there can only be so many Tay Zondays and LonelyGirl15s. Not everyone can become a crossover internet celebrity, and behind every one of these superstars there are a thousand others just like them, posting video after video and hoping one of them sticks. The following users represent only a fraction of a percentage of the YouTube users currently clogging up the internet tubes with absolute garbage – if you can think of others that deserve to be shamed, feel free to add them in the comments below. Or don’t, actually – additional exposure will only encourage them.

Let’s start by explaining that securing weblebrity status facilitates all the dysfunction of being a real celebrity, but none of the perks. You see, you receive hundreds of messages a day from viewers critiquing your work (probably more than many movie stars). The positive comments give you false self esteem, and the negative ones crush you like a lemon wedge. Eventually you develop thick skin, stop posting, or decide to find your self worth in a more healthy place (like at the bottom of a nice glass of vodka stired by a Xanax).

But, friends, there are at least 5 perks:

  1. We get constructive feedback about what people like and don’t like about our mindless short-form entertainment (so in theory we learn). People look forward to our stuff, and that’s encouraging. Remember that three years ago we bored dinner guests with our videos.
  2. We have a lot of fun. Shooting videos, editing them, collaborating, meeting fellow creators.
  3. Some of us actually get paid by YouTube based on a percent of the revenue it makes from selling ads around our garbage.
  4. We don’t really clog up the Internet. You see, there’s plenty of bandwidth around. It’s kinda like saying someone is wasting your sunshine (there’s an unlimited supply last I checked). Your tan doesn’t come at my expense… unless I have to look at your digusting, peeling skin.
  5. We don’t answer to anyone except our audiences. No producers to tell us to “dial it down,” or sponsors forcing awkward insertions. No “review team” or fear of cancellation.

Now let’s look at VisibleMode. Do I watch him daily? Nope. Does he watch me? Probably not, except when I happened to pick him for the YouTube Secret Santa (I sent him a mug so he could sell out like me).

VisibleMode is one of the top YouTubers in Canada, and Cracked.com’s pick for someone who won’t get famous. Obviously it would be even more interesting to see a Cracked.com list of the few YouTubers that actually might get famous (a harder list to write, and a shorter one).

So now I’ll get to my point, which Cracked might have overlooked. VisibleMode may not soon be in a b-grade film or even an extra in a television commercial. Heck even Michael Buckley (one of the fastest growing, and television-ready weblebrities) may fade like many stars. But VM tells me today he’s had 6,760,748 cummaltive views of his videos. If Google sold those InVideo ads surrounding his videos at $20 per thousand ($20 CPM is the list price), VisibleMode would have hypothetically taken a portion of more than $135,000 that advertisers would pay YouTube/Google. Let me say it again. Even if most of the ads weren’t sold, the CPM wasn’t $20, and VisibleMode only got a small portion, he’d be making decent take-home per month. Will it last? I’m the wrong guy to ask, because I would have bought Revver stock. But I’ll bet he’s enjoying the ride and not too worried about missing a red-carpet event in LA.

The sustainability of YouTube and weblebrities, of course, hinges on advertisers garnering an ROI on the ads that surround this content. They’re fairly targeted and hard to ignore. And they’re in the context of content you’ve chosen to view. So the branding benefit should be worthwhile (a cent or two an impression) even if the direct-response may underwhelm more transactional brands. 

So assuming marketers sell products (or believe they are) via YouTube promotion, the advertising revenue will flow. A shake-down of creators will naturally occur, but the audience of YouTube is growing in depth and frequency, and media consumption continues to fragment. There’s a volume of valuable ad inventory lurking in the long tail, folks…. so...

  • Weblebrities might enjoy a decent side income without ever becoming “famous.”
  • Viewers will have a greater selection of garbage to fit their unique tastes- some cheesy stuff blended with unique, unscripted and short entertainment.
  • YouTube/Google will make some money as well-backed middleman. Heck maybe they’ll buy Cracked.com.
  • Advertisers should enjoy a decent ROI in an emerging medium that’s bound to resemble future television buys more than current television ads will.

Nalts may or may not appear on SNL, but he’s having fun while this lasts. I just wish Cracked would have picked me for someone who’d never get famous. Hey- I know. I’ll do a sunburn video. Worked for ShayCarl.  

27 Replies to “Long-Tail Celebrities Won’t Get Famous and May Not Care”

  1. It really goes back to what people’s motivations for posting on the site are, yes there are people posting on YouTube for the purpose of getting themselves out there and maybe one day being famous. Look at how many people try out for American Idol and never should have. If people are just looking to explore their creative side and maybe make a little cash doing so, then that seems like an all together reachable goal, fame is no doubt quite a bit more fleeting.

  2. Kevin, I’m not sure whether your should be insulted or happy by Ross Wolinsky’s response. Wait! You didn’t make the top 5!!! You still have a chance!

  3. PR is PR good or bad it pays, see itchriscrocker.

    I think that’s rule #6 in your book (hold on let me go look. Nope #5, I was close!) the important thing is to get “you” meaning your stuff, out there. Word of mouth is always best (ask any advertiser): e-mail/twitter/blogs/forums/chatchannels/socialnetworks/etc.., but that takes time and lots of effort, helps to have a close core of people who will aid in stroking you to the top, along with a few choice haters to bounce off of. There isn’t a culture throughout history or on earth that doesn’t love the humans drama!

    What made shaycarl, besides his lovely wife, was sxephil, what made sxephil was zefrank what made zefrank was a timely fluke and finding a nitch that was wide open and having the right instincts to capitalize on it. Are these people talented? That question will always be subjective, the WWF is popular so my answer is, yes, they all have a talent. Are they rich because of it? Doubt it, but for the money it’s a lot more fun than what most people do for a living. When the fun becomes work and the pay doesn’t cover the basics that will change. The important thing in life, like anything, is when you look back and reflect, if you can say, “I learned some stuff; it didn’t pay much, but it was a blast!” Then I’d call that a success. Legacywise, if that’s important to you, purpose is key. Purpose brings quality, but anyone who makes at least an honest effort is guaranteed a footnote in someone’s history book. How many footnotes depends on how much effort and how long the commitment.

    rant too long? sorry, been caught up in the philosophy debates on youtube. I know, doesn’t that sound like fun!

  4. That article is right.

    Most vloggers including myself put out crap. Who in their right mind would want to advertise by it?

    Very few people actually make money on youtube. I just post for the fun of it and I don’t expect to get anything out of it other than comments or some props.

  5. Owww!!! My retinas! Too much verbage. My optic nerves are deteriorating and my brain hurts…

    Nalts, famous or not…I’ve already told you I’m with you for the long haul!!! Even when you’re getting old, you videos start to get good, your hair starts to fall out…oh, wait a minute! How time flies!

    I hope my clicks are getting you on your way to a healthy monthly check…who knows. :o)

  6. Some of my favorite YouTubers that will never get famous (but I enjoy them anyway; more than most of the crap the networks put on TV these days):


    and, of course, Nalts.

    Oh. And sukatra.

  7. I’m not looking for fame. I want to make enough money to replace my hardly-well-paying job doing something I like.

    I think it will eventually happen, too. Between selling content to people and YT partnership, I don’t think I’m doing bad.

  8. Well, we shouldn’t be mad. Cracked is the gay emo jerk wannabe canadian sister of MAD magazine, so I’m not even surprised they posted such a crap article.

  9. luckvid2008 has been busy the last 24 hours. I wonder how he did it and what he’s up to. Good plan, wrong content. He’s going to lose his channel pretty quick, I suspect we’ll find him and all these uploads on every paying site.

    Nice catch Marilyn!!!
    Give this women the letter B for Brain!

  10. Thank you, jischinger. (You need an easier to spell name 🙂 )

    I subscribe to the tag “nalts” in case he pops up in other tubers’ videos, which is how I caught it.

    The video is such poor quality that I figure that luckvid2008 must have downloaded the video and then re-uploaded it. There are many sites on the Internet where you can download a YouTube video as an .avi file.

  11. hehe.. no, I meant upload 159 videos in less than 24 hours. He’s ripping them flash to flash, he’s not even bothering to covert them and the mix is even stranger. I wonder what the plan is…

    I know yourtube makes you a partner now based on how many videos you upload and average out how many views you get- I’m wondering if this is what he’s after.

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