Throughout the past couple of years, a group of ordinary and self-employed individuals have quietly created a social media phenomenon. Now, in 2013, they are earning fortunes from simply posting videos on YouTube. Well actually, you couldn’t really call it a simple process. ‘Vloggers’ (as they are now known) often report spending many hours of the day filming, editing and preparing content for their channels in which they manage. Even platforms like Twitter and Tumblr demand updating, in order to satisfy their subscribers and keep them coming back. With a relationship very unique to the internet and social media, these subscribers know almost everything about their favourite Vloggers, but when broadcasting your life to such a large audience, what do you expect? Some fans/ viewers/ content consumers (however they like to be called) are almost on the same level as those ‘neurotic Directioners’, especially when it comes to dreamy British YouTubers like Alfie Deyes or Marcus Butler (aka “Malfie”… no?).
Since immersing myself further into this world, a true and unique sense of community is felt, and a very exclusive one at that. I really do enjoy putting aside half an hour every night to catch up on my subscription feed, even despite having to share with some slightly obsessed and sometimes psychotic girls! But excluding those, there are some really interesting people who share the same interests and views as you; people you can have a laugh with in the comments section.
Generally speaking, YouTube is something for the younger generation (with some exceptions). Ask my mother what ‘shipping’ means or who ‘Danisnotonfire’ is and you’d be met with a face of confusion. She still can’t quite grasp the straightforward concept, still perceiving YouTube as a place on the big wide web where people upload ‘funny cats’ videos and mobile phone recordings of people falling over. But even these are joining in on the act now, with channels such as Fail Army producing quality compilations of the weeks best ‘fails’, in an internet equivalent to You’ve been framed.
The diversity within the vastness of YouTube is immense. In one corner you have the beauty gurus, in another are the explorers and opposite stand the comedians. Take Smosh for example. This channel was created by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox way back in 2005 and they have been creating genuinely funny content throughout they 7 years they’ve been part of YouTube. Now one of YouTube’s most established, respected and legendary channels, they have almost 14 million subscribers and release weekly comedy sketches lasting, on average, 5 minutes. In the recent years, they’ve created a second channel in which Ian and Anthony record their Mondays and now, Watch us live and stuff (run by Anthony and fiancé Kalel) has half a million subscribers and documents their day to day life. Smosh is certainly one of the ‘originals’ and steadily grew with, and alongside YouTube.
From late 2011 however, YouTube vlogging really started to take off and their audiences grew rapidly. PewDiePie’s story acts as a perfect example of this surge. ‘Pewd’s’ who also goes by real name Felix Kjellberg, is a 24 year old Sweedish Gamer and in July 2012 gained 1 million subscribers – a momentous occasion, surely. Yet in the last year, he’s acquired 15 times that many and is now YouTube’s most subscribed-to creator, boasting almost 15.9 million subscribers, whilst it took Smosh for instance, or other notable personalities such as Toby Turner and Ryan Higa years to establish that big a following.
Yes, YouTube could be just a bit of fun on the side, but in a recent article from BBC Newsbeat, the approximate figures in which Vloggers can charge for advertising was revealed and you can understand why they are handling it a bit more professionally. Whilst none of the Vloggers interviewed were very forthcoming with their monthly earnings, Newsbeat stated that top-end YouTuber’s can charge:
- Up to £20,000/month for banners and ‘skins’ around edges of web pages.
- Up to £4000 per mention of a product.
- Up to £4000 per Instagram/Twitter post featuring product.
- Up to £10,000 per personal appearances
Seems like something I should seriously look into to fund my extortionate university costs.
This certainly demonstrates that advertisers have grasped the popularity of YouTube and taken advantage of it, understanding the exposure that it can give their product. It’s true that viewing habits of teenagers are changing dramatically and Vloggers can see this in their analytics. Finn Harries, one half of London-based YouTube channel, Jacksgap, put it quite nicely - “ The reality with our generation is that we get super impatient and tend to only watch stuff if it’s on demand. In the way we structure our lives now, we never seem to have time to plan an hour at, say 8 pm to sit down and watch television. We want to consume a lot of content whenever we have a spare moment”. You can essentially personalise your ‘Internet TV’ if you like; leaving out the content which doesn’t interest you and watch was does at any time, at any place and at the click of a few buttons.
To some, Vloggers as viewed like celebrities that you indeed see on television and their subscribers yearn to meet them, whether it be by chance encounter on the street or at YouTube conventions such as Vidcon, Playlist Live or the English counterpart, Summer in the City. Other Vloggers have caught onto this and actually take it quite light-heartedly, not shying away from the adoration but making fun out of it instead. Check out the infamous Becca Hodgekins (or should I say Chris Kendall?) here if you haven’t already: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XviOoc4TdI.
I have to admit, some are better than others in terms of quality, content, originality and some don’t quite get the recognition they deserve. Whilst all things YouTube are booming right now, in the greater scheme of things, does it have longevity and how will it adapt to its increasing competition with the olde television? Nevertheless, this strange phenomenon of voyeurism – being interested, almost nosey and poking into someone elses life has allowed a group of people to make a very, very prosperous career out of it. Who’d have thought?
Cassette tapes were first introduced to the mainstream in the late sixties/early 70’s after being prototyped in Hanover, Germany. During the mid 1980s cassettes were at their most popular accounting for more than half of the worlds total music sales. Alongside the attraction of music on the move, the cassette tape offered the opportunity for people to edit and customize their music easily for the first time. And did you know that the plastic case (box) containing the cassette is often called a “Norelco Box”…
But all this history and such still don’t answer my questions. Why have I found four boxes filled with U2 live recordings up a loft attic? Why did this person have all these tapes? Is it proof of U2’s biggest fan or just a black market bootlegger? Maybe s/he was a roadie for the band (quite an exciting prospect). And if they had these (in my mind) impressive items, why did they leave them in some old rented accommodation and not have tried tracing them down?
I should explain. This ‘treasure’ was discovered about a month ago, hidden in the loft of a house that my family have rented out for a number of years now. After our last tenants’ had moved on, the grubby interior cried out for a much needed clean and paint job. Never had we thought to investigate the loft before but this time, curiosity dictated so. And that’s where we found them, like something out a horror film, placed ominously under a ray of moonlight coming from behind the window. OoOoooO…
The tapes were in four boxes and (sort of) arranged into the various tours – Boy, The Joshua Tree, Pop Mart, Elevation, October and Zoo TV. There were lots of tapes for each tour, but with a handful of dates missing here or there per tour. There are even dates in there that my mum went to. Each one had been appropriately labelled with a date, venue, set-list and location and had a DIY photocopy of the tour logo encasing the cassette (as you can see from the photos in a previous post – http://almostfamousmusicandfilm.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/i-found-boxes-full-of-bootlegged-u2-live-recordings-were-they-genuinley-recored-at-each-gig-over-20-years/). They are labelled so repetitively, precisely and identically – even over a time span of at least 20 years.
This begs my first question. If these were recorded individually and first hand, how had this person managed to keep the same bloody black pen and handwriting for so many years? Then I thought maybe they had downloaded them from the internet or some U2 fan-site at one single point in time and then put onto cassette. After this was when I found the existence of so called “peer-peer sharing sites” for live music. However, they are not just readily available as downloads to whoever wants them. The concept of these sites inadvertently avoids the illegality of the whole thing. Selling on would of course breach copyright because they are not official and approved record company releases. So, becoming part of a peer-peer site opens the opportunity for fans to get their hands on rare music by free trading and gives them the excuse of ‘oh, we’re just sharing’ if needs so. Some of this sharing can happen physically or through files, but from what I could see, none were available in the form of a cassette. There is a possibility that the person who previously owned this collection could have acquired the recordings through sharing and then put them back on tape. But who would put them onto tapes anyway, when barely anyone has a cassette player anymore, other than U2 retro fanatics and people who own a car that predates 1995? But here’s the interesting thing. The one site that I looked at gave details of the pathways of how they got to the format they are today. And you’ll never guess what! “What?!” They all started out as cassettes! This collection could be the initial recordings, the starting point and the origin for the majority of these gigs available on these sharing sites. If they are first hand, I wonder who recorded them…
There is the possibility that they were made for illegal selling. There might be a business for selling live recordings. Or they may have been one that no longer exists, hence why they were abandoned. However the prospect of this person being a roadie or part of the crew from the beginning and recording these purely for an innocent collection is far more exciting.
I have to admit, there was a name on the boxes, and it turns out they last belonged to our first ever tenant and have apparently been up in the attic since. Is this the man who attended hundreds of U2 gigs, touring with them from their old Irish days, right through the height of The Joshua Tree to their arena and stadium domination? Was this man one of the few that evolved with one of the biggest bands in the world? As much as I hate to say it, the likelihood of our tenant being the person that made these tapes is small. He’s probably a collector who acquired them from another collector, who bought them from someone else who had them passed down from their uncle twice removed. Wow. Yet for this to happen they would have had to have breached copyright, and maybe the reason our tenant left them is because he lost interest and couldn’t sell them on because he wanted to do the moral thing.
But it doesn’t matter if our tenant was the man himself or if we are five, fifteen or fifty owners down the line. If the situation is correct, these are actual primary recordings. In that sense, it’s almost brought me closer to something that I’ll never experience. I get excited about things like that.
For some more conviction in my ideal explanation of them being actually recorded there and then, I thought it’d help to catalogue them all against every U2 live date from 1978 – 2001 and near enough the dates aligned for the tours we had, bar 5/6 per tour.
BUT this idea of one single crew man working alongside U2 and staging their gigs gets even more convincing. Excitingly there were recordings of sound checks, rehearsals, interviews and loads of other miscellaneous stuff. The whole collection is pretty unique and I can’t find anything like it. In that case… are they worth something? Are they a fortune in disguise? Think what one may be worth and then times that by at least 300. The mind can only imagine… Yes, imagine is as far as it goes for the time being. To remind you, that’s why the peer-peer sites exist. We’ll never be able to sell them, legally at least.
Maybe I’m being too idealistic. I don’t know. I’ve seen lots of people on the internet talking about U2 live dates on cassettes so it’s not a unique thing and something that is obviously well recognised in the U2 community. But to me the collection is unique in itself, like how they are all labelled, how they aren’t random etc… The problem is though, is that we’ll never know what they are unless we get contact from the old tenant (which hasn’t happened as of yet). I hope I can shed a bit more light on this really interesting situation.
And so ends a piece of writing full to the brim with rhetorical questions and debate. Now though, I think I’m going to go and listen to U2 at the Locarno in Birmingham, 1981, or maybe Barcelona, 1992. Yes! Adios mi amigo’s!