The YouTubers: Money in millennials
Chair: Dan Steinberg, Emporium Presents (US)
Alex Bewley, WME Entertainment (UK)
Rose Ellen Dix, Rose & Rosie (UK)
Marc Lambelet, Mainland Music (CH)
Rosie Spaughton, Rose & Rosie (UK)
Mark Walker, Free Focus and Kilimanjaro Live (UK)
Showman Steinberg introduced his guests with content from YouTube, as delegates turned out in number to explore opportunities in the burgeoning sector of YouTube stars going on tour.
Steinberg explained that he works with dozens of YouTube stars across North America and one of the key advantages of the sector is that he can book a YouTube act in a club in the early evening and then use that same venue for a late rock show.
Looking at the international success of the genre, Bewley reported that America remains ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to live shows. “I recently went with some Facebook people to a UK event and they observed that it was like VidCon 2012 – that’s when I realised how behind we were,” he said.
Trying to separate the ‘talented’ description from the ‘famous’ label, Lambelet cited a reality star in France who became extremely famous for saying something stupid on television, but had zero talent. But he revealed he is also immersing himself in the YouTube sector. “It’s not all about delivering a music show any more – there’s stand-up comedy, gaming stars who fans want to meet. YouTube is the same model – we sell tickets and give most of the money to the artist,” he said.
Dix explained that her start in YouTube came through university when one of her course modules challenged her to make a viral video. “I got 16,000 views on the project and it opened my eyes to the possibilities,” she said. Spaughton said, “We did it as a hobby to start and it’s turned into a full-time job for both of us. The beauty is that we get instantaneous audience reaction.” Dix added, “That’s why we are confident that we can translate what our subscribers like into what we’ll do on stage.”
The duo explained that half the work of being a YouTube star is monitoring the feedback of what people like and do not. And impressing the promoters in the room, Spaughton revealed, “We can also ask the audience where they want us to visit,” prompting Steinberg to comment, “Does anyone get the sense that YouTubers are a bit more intelligent than the rock bands we’re used to dealing with?”
The panel also dealt with the subject of revenue streams, with VIP tickets and meet and greets featuring heavily among the YouTubers’ finances. Walker said, “I learned early in the game that some acts were a bit shit from the parents’ point of view, so they would not likely bring their kids back to that show again.” He noted that prompts acts to get creative with meet and greets. “I have a client who does a meet and greet but also an inner circle where people can come to sound-check etc too – and both sell out.”
Bewley agreed. “Everyone has super-fans and they’ll pre-order the books or buy tickets the day they are released and the meet and greet is the most important element. Free shows still sell-out the meet and greets.”
Lambelet, however, argued that the promoter should also be allowed to share in the VIP element as well otherwise he should be allowed to charge back all of the show costs, including the extra security needed for meet-and-greet sessions.
Addressing the dilemma of how a promoter knows when to take the risk of knowing when an artist is ready to jump from a one-minute clip to a 60-min plus show, Walker commented, “It’s not that much different from the traditional business – you may hear a great track on the radio, but when you meet the act, you decide you don’t want to work with them.”