Youtube creators have been known to host highly successful concerts, Q&As, and meet-ups for over ten years now. One of the most prominent examples of this is VidCon, an annual convention in which hundreds of YouTubers gather in order to meet with fans. Founded by brothers Hank and John Green in Southern California, VidCon has been by far the most well-attended creator event since its conception in 2010.
Now going its 12th year, VidCon has completely shifted gears from the large in-person gathering that it once was. Just like every other huge summertime convention that was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, VidCon had to make changes – and fast.
Enter the creation of VidCon Now.
VidCon Now was created in lieu of hosting the event in 2020. Because the pandemic had shut down the majority of travel and most people were in quarantine, there was no way the event could continue in person. Throughout the summer of 2020, VidCon Now hosted over 150 virtual sessions and attracted over 1 million unique viewers.
VidCon’s conversion to an online platform marked a huge change for content creators as a whole. Many of the tours, meet-and-greets, and other in-person events that influencers had planned for the remainder of 2020 now suddenly had a chance at still happening.
How Youtubers Changed the Game
Once VidCon Now proved that people were willing to spend money to engage with content creators, many influencers began planning their own takes on interactive digital experiences for their fans.
Rhett McLaughlin and Charles “Link” Neal are two YouTubers that have been creating content on YouTube since 2006. They experienced great success as a duo making parodies, music videos, and other creative content. Although their first YouTube channel amassed over 4 million subscribers, their real claim-to-fame is their channel “Good Mythical Morning.” With over 17 million subscribers, Good Mythical Morning is a daily show in which hosts Rhett and Link take part in peculiar challenges, interview celebrity guests, and tell life stories.
After years of fans requesting a live version of Good Mythical Morning, Rhett and Link decided that a live-streamed, online show in the middle of a global pandemic was the best way to go.
And they were right.
Rhett and Link’s R-rated, virtual live stream amassed over 70,000 ticketed viewers. And although the duo originally rose to success through YouTube, they decided against hosting their stream on the Google-owned platform. Rather, Rhett and Link partnered with Los Angeles local startup Looped so that they could monetize their event properly.
This event proved to be so successful that the duo hosted a second live stream in 2021, and continued to offer premium, exclusive content to fans who became members on their website Mythical Society.
This kind of success cemented the idea that people are willing to pay to enjoy things they’re passionate about- especially when the world is in the middle of a global pandemic, and no one wants to leave their house.
YouTubers weren’t the only people that were inspired by VidCon’s quick turnaround to a digital medium. After all, if YouTubers can get this kind of viewership, what kind of insane numbers could celebrities with hundreds of millions of fans garner? Rhett and Link are giants in the YouTube world- but if we swapped their 17 million subscribers for Kpop group Blackpink’s 70 million subscribers, the viewership increase would be out of this world.
From Content Creators to Celebrities
Soon after witnessing the massive success that virtual influencers had in the digital event world, many A-list celebrities started to follow the trends. As we mentioned before, if YouTubers were able to achieve such high viewership, celebrities should be able to surpass those numbers by a longshot.
As one of the most well-known names in the music industry today, Ariana Grande is bound to pull in millions of viewers no matter what she does. However, taking control of one of the world’s most popular video games, Fortnite, was guaranteed to be a huge hit. Fortnite is a free battle royale game that had hundreds of millions of players each week and was popularized by YouTube gamers.
Another hugely popular game with the YouTube gaming community is Roblox, in which Lil Nas X hosted a concert in early November. These concerts were certainly influenced by content creators as these games and these types of online meet-and-greets were conceptualized by YouTubers.
Taking this one step further, we can even link YouTube events to digital performances from superstars like Kanye West and Billie Eilish. Every event Kanye West hosted for his most recent album Donda broke all of Apple Music’s records – exceeding over 5 million concurrent viewers (You can read more about that in this blog). Billie Eilish’s virtual concert was even deemed “one of the rare virtual concerts done right” by Rolling Stone.
The mass amount of success that YouTubers garnered from online events during the pandemic jumpstarted the acceptance of digital experiences. YouTubers and celebrities alike have proven that virtual events do not need to be lackadaisical or uninspiring. In fact, these events hosted by influencers have showcased the endless possibilities that online events truly have.