Support Online Video: Spread Rhett & Link

Peoples of online video: we are entering the 5th or 6th year of the online-video, but we’ve seen precious few online-video peeps move to television. Sure there was LisaNova and Fred’s movie. And there have been a few shows that failed, and a few more in the works (Annoying Orange)

But this we know. Most YouTube stars shouldn’t and don’t need to move to television to grow their audience or further legitimize themselves. Michael Buckley’s “What The Buck” show would be a lovely segment of some of the otherwise horrendous shows (Web Soup), but YouTube is Buckley’s more natural and independent vehicle.

That being said, there are at least a dozen or so YouTube stars or channels that lend themselves to 22 minute broadcast model, and certainly a bolder and yet safer approach for fledging networks popping out faux reality shows like Wipplewood crap during Huckleberry season (Google it).

Now could Rhett and Link, a duo I’ve long seen as having mainstream appeal, lend their talents to plenty of broadcast shows? Certainly. Is a series about local commercials a good start? Yes. Is it sustainable or fully leveraging their talents? Who knows.

But here’s the key. We need a win. We in the online-video community need to demonstrate a) that our loyalty to the trailblazers transcends the medium, and b) that an independent video creator (or creators) can indeed succeed on TV, which is not going away anymore than radio when TV arrived.

So check out Rhett and Link’s new show, and spread the word! I haven’t seen it enough to know if Entertainment Weekly’s snubby review has any merit. But I’m eager to see this prove to studios and networks that this new medium is a fertile testing ground for the next generation of television (I think it’s hard to argue that some fresh approaches are needed to counteract the absurd pile-on of sameness).

Rhett & Link: Commercial Kings is
on Hulu now:
http://bit.ly/rhettlinkhulu

What do you think?! I’d tell you what to think if I was on a computer not an iPhone.

Watch it this Friday 10/9c on IFC (and every Friday all summer), or at least turn it on your cable box so the ratings justify further interest in this approach to programming.

Rhett and Link tell me that Unfortunately none of the other episodes will be on Hulu–but they will be on iTunes, Amazon, and XboxLive. So get the damned Roku and let’s mobilize our army! If even 5% of Rhett and Link’s fans (and online-video viewers) engage with the content via TV and iTunes and Amazon, here’s what will happen…

The network folks will take notice. The tech companies will communicate to them that webTV is viable, and that studios can get out of their typical formula because we “trend setters” want and demand more.

Who’s with me?! Can 20 people join me in spreading the word and showing our support by watching, rating, sharing this content? Most TV viewers are too passive, so a very small army of us can wake up the new TV/web hybrid model if we’re loyal and loud.

Do YOU Have What It Takes to Become (and Stay) a YouTube Star?

I’ve written plenty about how to become a YouTube star (see free eBook v2 and “Beyond Viral“), but today’s post is the first of a series about the persistence of some top YouTube talent. It’s one thing to break through the clutter and develop a following, but quite another thing to maintain it… the latter takes consistency, adaptability, time, ability to spot trends, endurance, patience, loads of work, and thick skin.

You don't become a top YouTube star for talent and charisma alone. And you don't stay there long without some mysterious skills and character. So what's the common thread?

Yesterday I sent a note to about 20 top YouTube stars… focusing mostly on the independent acts who didn’t have a large fan base until YouTube (that excluded offline “real” stars, musicians, and production companies). If you’re interested in my e-mail to them, select “more” below.

The key question I asked them is simply, “what keeps you going.”

Now I’d like to share 3 of the early responses (part 1 of a series), and ask you WillVideoForFood readers the same question in a different way. What do YOU think separates the leading YouTube creators from the rest of us? Is it talent, consistency, interaction with fan base, variety, adaptability, omni-presence? Or is the underlying currency, as Producer Fred Seibert observed to me, “narcissism”? I don’t think Fred meant that word to carry the negative baggage, rather he presented it as a base characteristic of enduring entertainers… it’s what allows them to overcome the many barriers and exert uncompromising effort.

Thanks to Brittani, Rhett and Charles for giving us some insights into how passion, teamwork and community serve them. Stay tuned for more from WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster, and others. Their responses may surprise you!

1) BrittaniLouiseTaylor: Passion

“What keeps me going?  Simple, passion!! I am an actress, and I get to cast myself and play whatever role I want.  My creativity is not dependent on knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time, I am in control of my destiny. You have to stay positive and keep the passion that you had when you first started making videos.  Being on Youtube is like being in a relationship, you have to put work into maintaining it and keeping your interest. You hit patches where you are like “Uhhhh what video should I do next.”  Most of the time I have some crazy idea, but if I have to do something last minute because I have had a busy week, I do it last minute.  I am determined to have a new video every Saturday and Sunday, if it means me staying up all night that is what I’ll do! Numbers shouldn’t matter, Youtube is always changing and things will go up and down.  You have to do it foryou.  At the end of the day, did you like the video?  Are you happy with it?  That is all that matters!

HUGS, BLT 😀

2) RhettandLink: Power of Two

RhettAndLink's Rhett were determined to support themselves from their passion, and attribute their persistence, in part, to the partnership
Thanks for asking! I think the reason is three-fold, and in no particular order.  The first reason is that once web video became our primary source of income (and I’m talking almost ALL of our income from 2007-2010), we developed a business model based on fairly consistent content.  So our time and energy were all focused on making videos.

The second reason is that we keep having new ideas.  We keep coming up with stuff that we want to create.  A related reason is that our success isn’t based on one genre.  We’ve tried a lot, and a fair amount has worked. The last reason is the fact that there are two of us. We are much less likely to quit because we can motivate one another. Thanks! -Rhett

3) CharlesTrippy: Community

Hey man!! Hows it going on your end?! Ive been watching your unclenalts videos and I am like “dude, when did the kids get so old!!” insane! (your fam is the original tards! haha). What keeps me going? Yah, you kind of nailed it with your points but I think there are a few reasons that keep me motivated.

I’d say the community plays a HUGE part – just when I get discouraged or frustrated I go back and read the comments and it seems to pop me back in place, you know? I also think about the future and I love the fact that i’ll have these videos/days documented. We’ve been lucky enough to pretty much film Alli and I’s entire relationship (we started like 5 monthsor less after dating) so to have that means a lot to us. Also, I don’t want to say it’s really motivation but the fact that Youtube/Google pays it’s creators keeps me motivated because I can invest all of my time in it and still make a life for myself and my family 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy I know you posted daily (sometimes twice) for a very long time so I know you can relate. I think above all the community is the #1 source of encouragement and motivation for me…. -Charles Trippy

CharlesTrippy had a large following, and grew it to a new level when he joined his fiance Alli in the daily "Internet Killed TV" series

Coming soon: Responses I’ve already received from YouTube’s most-subscribed: WheezyWaiter, Michael Buckley, VenetianPrincess, Hank Green, KipKay, Edbassmaster.

To see my note to these peeps, click more. And don’t forget to comment yourself: what do YOU think it takes?

Hire Rhett and Link Or I’ll Punch You in the Neck

I’m a big fan of Rhett and Link, the singing duo on YouTube who make sponsored videos that are so damned entertaining they hurt. It’s like watching MGM’s latest videos… I am both thrilled for them and ready to hang up my hat.

Rhett and Link Make Advertising More Interesting Than Life

I’ve blogged about them dozens of times, featured them in my book, and recently noticed that their views for sponsored videos rivals their views of “normal” videos on YouTube. Could you have guessed years ago that a fairly unknown duo doing mostly musical commercials would garner a regular following that exceeds many non-sponsored performers?

So how do these two turn promotions into candy coated, juicy filled delights? There are many correct answers, but I believe there’s one best answer.

It’s not their talent, creativity, music, comedy or filmmaking skills. It’s because they have earned the right to convince a client to give them creative freedom. I’ve NEVER seen a Rhett & Link advertainment musical that wouldn’t delight me as a client. Damn this blog post sounds like a friggin’ advertisement for them, and I’ll admit I consider them friends (or at least I’ve got a fellow creator… with a fan crush). But I’m not on commission.

This new pillow spot brings visual intrigue surpassed by few videos since “Mentos and Coke,” and combines it with a song that’s great on its own. 300K plus views just one day after launch, and nearly 10% of the viewers “liked” the video. These little hicks are modern day Mad Men who don’t have to buy their way to eyeballs, and they make it look effortless like an olympic gymnast. Want to know the real pisser? They’re laid back and cool. Combine these guys with MysteryGuitarMan and you’ve got a never-ending gobstopper of viral video fun… without a lick of pretension.

Some gents enjoy their fine wine. Others a cigar or brandy. But this girl wants to savor the sweet symphony of music, creativity, amateur videography and blissful promotion. The Awl writes about the best songs written for commercials, and I propose that blog post redirect to Rhett and Link.com.

What’s even more magical about this SleepBetter.org campaign is that it’s like entering Disney World. You just keep getting sucked deeper into the experience. My kids discovered it, and ran to my office insisting I search “2 guys, 600 pillows.” We watched it several times, and then gazed upon the “behind the scenes,” which was brilliantly placed back at SleepBetter.org. I was spellbound as I was reminded that a few of my 20 plus pillows are perhaps older than some of my children. And I will absolutely 100% purchase a pillow from SleepBetter.org, and this company — nameless to me 30 minutes ago — has now the reflected glory of this North Carolina duo. I’m beginning to wonder if Rhett and Link could sing a song that would make me want to eat dog food cooked from 7 owls. And frankly I think they could.

“Dad can we buy the song on iTunes?” said daughter Katie from the other room. Did she really need to ask? Now my kids are discussing the lyrics… Julie McKnight.

One of my favorites to play at conferences remains Taco Bell Drive Thru Folk Song, but Pillow rivals it and the AlkaSeltzer campaign. While shooting that AlkaSeltzer Cheesesteak video (in which I cameod) Rhett and Link sang a new version of the Nalts song written by MysteryGuitarMan. It’s quite beautiful (footage courtesy of Edbassmaster). Give it a listen and singalong.

Sponsored Fun or Selling Out? Comedy Duo On Road Trip for Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz.

rhett and link buffet songRhett and Link, comedic video amateurs, are mountaineering above the overhang of “The Great Cliff of New-Media Sponsored Advertising.” They’re harnessed to each other with a taut rope, knotted with creativity. The friends swing effortlessly to the next hold in a pendulum traverse. Rhett knows the objective danger as he firmly grabs his nub, and Link’s total attention is committed to spotting him. Their eyes lock, then gaze slowly down upon the falling spree at the mountain’s base. It would be a perilous drop to their death (is that ZeFrank’s skeleton?). But they both smile, knowing full well that they’ll live to see another climb.

[Editorial addition 6/20 9 pm EST: Rhett and Link have an insightful comment below] In their latest celebration of corporate sponsorship, the singing and acting duo present this hysterical video called “The Buffet Song.” It’s a song parody about all-you-can-eat buffets. Now there’s *every reason* I should have known this was a sponsored video:

  1. It was clear on the video’s description and it was a reply to a video about the Alka Seltza tour.
  2. I received this from them via e-mail, and it was explained as a video that it’s part of their of “Great American Road Trip Series” sponsored by Alka Seltzer.
  3. Heck I even last week agreed via e-mail to meet them in Philly (Pat and Gino’s Cheesesteaks) for a video that they said was part of some Alka Seltzer series. They wrote, “It’s part of our Alka Seltzer road trip gig…. We’re still developing the angle so if you’re interested, you can weigh in as we develop it.” I took that as a fun challenge, and began soliciting others to collaborate. See- sometimes it’s not all about the money. Maybe they’ll have free samples.

But then, like, Yipes, Scoob… I opened this video above, and all of that awareness vanished — just like those pain pangs of overindulgence when met by a delciously effervescent glass of heartburn and indigestion medication.

In fact, I’d like to take you sequentially through my experience, which is something I can’t stand in a conversation. I’m always telling my wife, “you’re burying the lead again, Jo… I don’t need to know about how much change the post office gave you before the freak you saw on the way out. Just tell me about the freak.” But now I digress…

To read about my sequential experience wrapping my small brain around this video campaign, click MORE (bottom left corner of this blog – right above the “share” link”). Trust me, it’s worth it.

alka seltzer

Continue reading “Sponsored Fun or Selling Out? Comedy Duo On Road Trip for Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz.”