VidCon, the gathering of creators and influencers, is poised for a triumphant return to Anaheim after its two-year COVID-19 hiatus. And this year, TikTok – the once-emerging platform that has skyrocketed during the pandemic with more than 1 billion active users – has taken over YouTube’s place as the main sponsor of the conference, promising presence of top TikTok creators and inject new energy into the 12-year-old convention.
The creator economy has skyrocketed over the past few years, with the size of the consumer spending market for creators expected to grow from $9.8 billion to more than $18 billion, according to a report this week. October 2021 from UTA. And with that growth comes significant budgets coming from brands looking for lucrative deals with talent and long-term interest from growing creators looking to monetize their followers. their content and turn their content into a business. According to Insider Intelligence, spending on influencer marketing in the US is forecast to exceed $4 billion this year, and major brands like Levi’s and Louis Vuitton have partnered with top talent like Emma Chamberlain, while the NFL and Celsius energy drinks have attracted rising stars like Katie Feeney for the partnership.
But as the creator-driven industry has evolved, this year’s VidCon offers an unshakable reminder of how a creator’s career – and by extension, relevance and power their star – can fade rapidly as it explodes.
To illustrate that, VidCon kicked off on June 22 with the dethroning of TikTok’s reigning queen, Charli D’Amelio. That evening, as featured creators gathered at the Hyatt hotel near the Anaheim Convention Center to check out the aesthetic lounges of platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Meta, human comedian Khaby Lame Senegal and Italy known for their long, wordless and wide -eyed reaction videos – became the most followed creator on TikTok, boosting D’Amelio from a position she held for about two years. (As of press time, Lame has 144.5 million followers compared to D’Amelio’s 142.9 million).
The next day, D’Amelio appeared on stage in a sponsored chat with creator Brandon Baum for Lightricks. But rather than being an event in the main ballroom of the convention center, especially since TikTok acts as the main sponsor of VidCon, the conversation took place on a stage – sponsored by Spotify. – tucked away in the back of the exhibition hall, competing with the juiciness that comes from dozens of branded booths set up in the same lobby.
That’s not to say fans haven’t lined up to be met and greeted with D’Amelio or the creator’s business – which now includes fragrances, clothing lines, reality shows on Hulu and major brand partnerships with companies like Dunkin’, among others – have diminished in any way. But the fervor surrounding VidCons’ top talent in the past, where ear-piercing screams from fans were the norm, feels remarkably subdued for a creator with a following. as big as D’Amelio. And when asked for her advice to other creators during a stage appearance, D’Amelio probably got tired of it all.
“Don’t tie yourself to anything specific,” says D’Amelio, who initially went viral on TikTok with videos of her dancing. “It’s not worth it to always be forced to do one thing. I feel if you do that, you can just do it for so long until you get bored of it and you want to switch. And if you’re so used to doing just one type of content, you might feel stuck. “
About losing the top position to Lame – who is represented by Iron Corp. based in Milan and recently signed a multi-year deal with Hugo Boss – D’Amelio assures fans that there is “no bad blood.” “I was number one for two years. I feel like it’s time for someone else to take the position,” said D’Amelio. “It feels great to know that someone else is getting there – someone who is sweet, someone who is nice and loves what they do. … I don’t want to give it to anyone else. “
D’Amelio’s presence at VidCon also underscores the absence of other creators that have been a major draw at VidCons over the years, including YouTube creators like David Dobrik and his Vlog Squad. her, Jake and Logan Paul, Tyler Oakley, Jenna Marbles, Grace Helbig, Philip DeFranco and Casey Neistat. The conference also attracted a significantly smaller volume this year with 50,000 in-person attendees compared to the 75,000 attendees at the 2019 conference, although COVID may have influenced the decline in attendance.
Marques Brownlee, a technology reviewer with more than 15 million subscribers on YouTube, describes the careers of creators as the careers of professional athletes. “A lot of people want to be professional athletes. But when you look at it, the life cycle of a professional athlete in most sports is fleeting and small,” said Brownlee, who led the creator’s keynote on VidCon’s final day, speak The Hollywood Reporter. “You get, like, your first five years. If you are lucky, you can play eight, nine, 10 [years]. If you really are LeBron James, you play 20 years. It was a brief career in most fields.”
And as creators seek to capitalize on their popularity as quickly as possible by creating more content and following the whims of platforms, creator burnout can lead to to a career in decline even faster – or at least a career that exists primarily online. After more than a decade of uploading videos to YouTube, Ingrid Nilsen – a longtime beauty and lifestyle YouTuber who appeared at VidCons before – has posted her last video in 2020, expressing her desire to retire with as a professional content creator and discover new goals, offline. Now, Nilsen runs candle company The New Savant with her partner, Erica Anderson.
Meanwhile, Emma Chamberlain, who is already famous on YouTube and now has 11.5 million subscribers, has started posting less often on YouTube to prevent burnout, where she just returned after six months. discontinuity. The creator, who runs a coffee company and has a successful podcast, is currently growing her career outside of YouTube through appearances hosting red carpet interviews at the Met Gala and on Tonight’s gig with Jimmy Fallon.
For those trying to make a living through content creation, the pressure is on to keep up with trends and stay relevant. The rise of new platforms like TikTok also heralds changes to the future of creator success, meaning that creators who focus on long-form videos on YouTube, for example, must be willing to incorporate video formats. Short on their strategy to maintain their relevance. YouTube’s main activities at VidCon, a “drive-thru” experience offering snacks from creator brands and a 40-foot tall gum machine created by Jimmy Donaldson, aka MrBeast released, all emblazoned with the YouTube Shorts brand, providing another clear signal of the company’s emphasis on short-form video rather than the long-form content that its former stars are known for. most known.
Being platform agnostic is particularly key to diversifying your following and revenue, with creators like Katie Feeney and Alyssa McKay saying CHEAP which they post on YouTube, YouTube Shorts, Instagram, Reels, TikTok, and Snapchat. But it’s equally important to be flexible with the type of content they post.
“You have to always be ready to grow as a creator,” says McKay. “I have already started doing [point-of-view videos] and then I started rapping and then I started to realize, okay, my audience isn’t interested in this anymore. So now it’s all about lifestyle, but I’m sure that within six months I will probably switch to something else. You can’t try and force something not to work anymore. … It’s hard because it can lead to burnout, constantly trying to think of the next thing, but it’s one of the biggest parts of the job. “
Brittany Tomlinson, a TikTok creator and podcaster who is by Brittany Broski, also noted in a discussion with co-creator Kris Collins (aka Kallmekris) that the job of a content creator can takes a lot of effort. “I’ve been burned out a few times – and that sounds like, ‘Oh, poor me.’ But when you think about it, this is not nine to five,” said Tomlinson. “This is an ‘all the time.'”
Hank Green, co-founder of VidCon, also notes the “struggle” that creators face when it comes to keeping up with changes in the industry. “I feel the same way that YouTube has disrupted television, TikTok has disrupted all these major incumbents, and it’s strange that now there’s VidCon in both of those events, in one place. to some extent,” Green said in his opening remarks. “Things have changed a lot and for better or for worse, there are a lot of struggles that come with disruption on that scale. But that also means there are plenty of opportunities. There’s plenty of time to figure it out. “
But in the meantime, creators like Tomlinson say they don’t mind leaving if the time is right.
“The one that started the problem, which underpins everything we do, is the minute it’s no longer fun – and I’ve had that problem a few times – don’t expect anything from me.” Tomlinson said.