There’s a new king of Twitch, at least in the English-speaking world. Kai Cenat, who rose to prominence as a member of the YouTube supergroup AMP, now has more Twitch subscriptions than French-Canadian star Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel.
Cenat broke out on YouTube, but he has quickly ascended the Twitch charts once he began broadcasting on the Amazon-owned platform in February 2021. After becoming one of only three streamers to reach at least 80,000 paying subscribers, the 20-year-old personality celebrated by calling his mom live on stream.
Kai Cenat nearly in tears when his mom called him for breaking 80k subs
Cenat wasn’t finished at 80,000. Shortly after meeting that mark, he blew past Lengyel to become the most-subscribed Twitch star in the Anglophone world. The Brazilian streamer Casemito is now the only streamer who reaches more paying customers than his American counterpart, and Cenat has quite a ways to go before he can claim Twitch’s global subs crown. Casemito, who gets more than 60% of his subs through Amazon Prime, counts more than 137,000 subscribersin all.
The gap between Casemito and Cenat is closing fast. Days after the AMP star broke the 80,000-sub barrier, he surged past 90,000. And despite what his critics might say, there’s no reason to doubt that his numbers are legit.
“I need y’all to be watching what’s going on, Twitch”
Cenat is never shy about sharing his feelings. As he smashed records on Twitch, he scolded the platform for its failure to properly incubate Black talent. “For so many years, people of my color, we’ve been unrecognized,” Cenat said after getting his 80,000th sub. “I refuse for my community to go unnoticed…There’s not one time I’ve seen anyone in my community on the front page of [Twitch].”
Other creators have suggested that Twitch has not properly acknowledged Cenat’s rise because the Bronx native is not marketable. Cenat, who regularly curses and uses the n-word on his stream, appealed to that logic after crossing 80K. “I don’t give a f*** if I’m unmarketable,” he said. “I don’t give a f*** what you all n***** got going on, if I say n**** too much, I do not care n****, I do not give a f***. They don’t want to recognize real, bro.”
Cenat is not the only Black streamer who has criticized Twitch’s relationship with communities of color. A campaign titled #TwitchDoBetter, which launched earlier this year, called out the platform for its shaky commitment to Black creators. Among other demands, the organizers behind #TwitchDoBetter requested more visibility for Black-led streams on the Front Page.
Given the current state of Twitch, its decision-makers would be wise to celebrate the rising star in their midst. As top streamers continue to leave the platform en masse, it has alienated its remaining community by discontinuing popular features and taking more money from partners. Cenat’s remarkable achievements are generating positive headlines for a company that desperately needs them. Therefore, the way forward is clear: Twitch must get over its reservations about Cenat’s language and hitch its star to his wagon.
As TikTok looks to remain available in the United States, it has recruited a pair of powerful partners: President Biden and the Justice Department. According to the New York Times, there is a “preliminary agreement” on the table between the White House and ByteDance-owned TikTok. Should the agreement stick, the buzzy short-form video app will gain government support as it continues to operate in the U.S.
For three years, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has paid close attention to TikTok and its parent company. CFIUS, composed of several federal agencies, has long expressed concerns about the national security threat posed by TikTok’s collection of U.S. user data. The tentative agreement would put multiple checks in place to prevent the Chinese Communist Party (which has significant ties to ByteDance) from using its buzzy app to exert undue influence on Americans.
The terms of the agreement, as reported by the Times, would include several regulations that have previously been discussed. Oracle, which once flirted with a direct acquisition of TikTok, could soon be enlisted as the shepherd of the app’s U.S. user data. TikTok operatives, including COO Vanessa Pappas, have repeatedly insisted that Chinese officials do not have access to that data, contrary to recent reports. Since the White House wants to take the sensitive data off TikTok’s servers, it is apparently unconvinced by Pappas’ claims.
A deal between TikTok and the U.S. government would also establish a “board of security experts” to monitor the app, per the Times. TikTok has shown a willingness to hire security personnel in order to comply with American demands.
Those demands were much harsher before Biden came into office. President Trump tried to force ByteDance to sell TikTok, but his successor has taken a softer line in his attempt to police the creative-yet-contentious hub of youth culture. His attempts to work with China, rather than against him, have provided ammo for the hardlines in the GOP and the Justice Department. If the proposed agreement goes through, it is likely to draw intense backlash from the right wing of the U.S. government.
TikTok, like other Big Tech companies, has become a battleground in a larger political fight between Democrats and Republicans. Though the app says it is shielding its U.S. user base from the reach of the Chinese government, the debate over TikTok’s regulation has turned into a debate over China’s regulation. Perhaps that’s why the details of a potential agreement are taking so long to hammer out. According to the Times, critics of the proposed deal are not convinced that the pact would resolve national security concerns. That infighting could add time to the negotiation process, and it may be “months” before we learn if — and how — TikTok will be able to operate in the U.S.
Dude Perfect is going big with its next headquarters.
The five-man trickshot group is planning to construct a sprawling complex with a 330-foot tower where fans can attempt the kinds of long-shot tricks seen on their YouTube channel, which has 58 million subscribers.
Dude Perfect (aka longtime friends Tyler Toney, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, and twins Cory and Coby Cotton) is currently headquartered on All Stars Avenue in Frisco, Texas. They’re working with San Antonio-based architecture firm Overland Partners to design the new place.
As for where it’ll be, the dudes aren’t entirely sure. Coby Cotton told Sports Business Journal the group “would love for it to be nearby” their Frisco headquarters. “That said, we are exploring all different options and we’ve had a lot of interest from different cities,” he added.
Overland Partners’ senior principal Bryan Trubey said interested cities include Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Per a tweet from Dude Perfect, the headquarters will have three stories of attractions including a Dude Perfect museum, restaurants, a merch shop, and mini golf. It’ll be surrounded by two acres of outdoor space.
The future of Dude Perfect COMING SOON:
330-foot trick shot tower
Crazy Mini Golf
Trick Shot Town
Dude Perfect Museum
Two acres of outdoor space
Merch store, restaurants, & more
The 330-foot tower jutting from the complex is “a physical representation” of Dude Perfect’s brand, and “was absolutely the right move for us, in terms of basing the physical destination around that,” Trubey said.
“Our vision has always been to create a destination where families could just have an absolute blast in a very unique way,” Cotton said.
TikTok is facing a potential £27 million fine for allegedly collecting personal data from users under the age of 13.
The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) today sent a “notice of intent”–which it describes as “a legal document that precedes a potential fine”–to TikTok, warning it that it may have to pay up pending the results of the ICO’s investigation.
In addition to collecting private data from users under 13 (which is also illegal in the U.S.), TikTok allegedly “failed to provide proper information to its users in a concise, transparent and easily understood way,” and “processed special category data, without legal grounds to do so,” the ICO said.
“Special category data” refers to personal data related to “ethnic and racial origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, Trade union membership, genetic and biometric data or health data,” per the ICO’s definition.
“We all want children to be able to learn and experience the digital world, but with proper data privacy protections,” Information Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement. “Companies providing digital services have a legal duty to put those protections in place, but our provisional view is that TikTok fell short of meeting that requirement.”
As Edwards noted, the ICO’s allegations and its letter of intent are provisional—meaning the fine and findings are not yet finalized.
A TikTok spokesperson told The New York Times, “While we respect the ICO’s role in safeguarding privacy in the U.K., we disagree with the preliminary views expressed and intend to formally respond to the ICO in due course.”
This is not the first time TikTok has faced scrutiny for its handling of young users’ information. In 2019, the United States’ Federal Trade Commission fined it $5.7 million because Musical.ly, which TikTok’s parent company ByteDance acquired and merged with TikTok, collected data from users under 13.
[Editor’s Note: Tubefilter Charts is a weekly rankings column from Tubefilter with data provided by GospelStats. It’s exactly what it sounds like; a top number ranking of YouTube channels based on statistics collected within a given time frame. Check out all of our Tubefilter Charts with new installments every week right here.]
Scroll down for this week’s Tubefilter Chart.
In this week’s U.S. Top 50, the song remains the same: Most channels are either based on YouTube Shorts or tailored to the internet’s youngest viewers.
The top five spots are all occupied by that latter group, and the biggest kid-friendly channel of all is still ranked #1 in America.
That all-ages titan is named Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes. The California-based channel, which is a subsidiary of U.K.-based Moonbug, has gone through all of September without ceding the #1 spot in the U.S. Top 50. Cocomelon’s latest seven-day total is one of its strongest finishes yet; after adding 580.1 million weekly views, the home of animated characters like JJ is closing in on 140 billion lifetime views.
The #2 channel in the U.S. Top 50 has also had one of its best months of 2022. Kids Diana Show often ranks behind fellow family vlogs such as Like Nastya (#19 this week), but it was able to top all non-Cocomelon U.S.-based channels by increasing its viewership by 50% week-over-week. After a big surge forward, Diana and her family ended up with 442 million weekly views, giving it a cushion of more than 150 million views over the next-most watched channel in this chart.
Last week’s U.S. runner-up, LeoNata Family, switched places with Kids Diana Show. The primarily short-form hub, which uses compilations to maintain a presence on long-form YouTube, got 286.1 million views during the week that was. That represented a 9% week-over-week viewership dip, and it’s good that LeoNata didn’t fall any further. With 30 million fewer views, it would have dropped all the way to seventh in our U.S. Top 50.
Like Kids Diana Show, the #4 channel in this week’s U.S. Top 50 reached its current chart position by riding a significant viewership gain. It’s been a while since we’ve seen LankyBox in our American top five, but that hasn’t stopped creators Justin and Adam from raking in views. After upping their viewership by 26% week-over-week and taking home 278.9 million weekly views in all, the LankyBox stars surpassed 27 billion lifetime views on their flagship channel.
Vlad and Niki rounds out this week’s U.S. top five. The Floridian family vlog collected 269.4 million weekly views.
A business in Florida has found a strange way to advertise old video game consoles. Bayer Computer Solutions is the place to go if you want to pick up a Sega Genesis or a Super Famicom, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the brand’s YouTube channel.
Sure, some of the videos Bayer uploads to YouTube Shorts feature references to gaming. The business, which brings an aggregator’s approach to short-form content, has posted the same Zach King clip at least six different times.
For other Bayer videos, the connections to consoles require a bit of a stretch. The channel’s most-viewed clip, which has been seen nearly 50 million times, shows three different strategies for bypassing a barricade. On the surface, that’s unrelated to video games, but in my attempts to solve puzzles, I’ve tried all three of these strategies: The first person finds an elegant solution, the second forces their way through, and the third cheats.
Bayer’s unusual YouTube Shorts strategy has led to its best-ever week on the platform. It picked up 111.8 million weekly views, essentially doubling its lifetime viewership. After missing the U.S. Top 50 seven days ago, Bayer moved up to 38th place in our all-American ranking. It finished one spot behind last week’s Top Gainer, JunkTramp.
So has this helped the Bayer business? That’s unclear. But if you want to get your Battletoads or Donkey Kong on, now you know where to go.
This week, there are 33 YouTube Shorts channels in the U.S. Top 50.
[Editor’s Note: Tubefilter Charts is a weekly rankings column from Tubefilter with data provided by GospelStats. It’s exactly what it sounds like; a top number ranking of YouTube channels based on statistics collected within a given time frame. Check out all of our Tubefilter Charts with new installments every week right here.]
Scroll down for this week’s Tubefilter Chart.
Top TikTok channels are beginning to post more frequently on YouTube Shorts. As a result, this week’s Global Top 50 features a plethora of chart newcomers.
However, the top channels in the ranking, including the reigning #1 finisher, are all YouTube stalwarts.
Though there were a lot of movers and shakers in this week’s chart, T-Series is still on top of the world. The Indian record label continues to control the most-watched YouTube channel in the world on both a per-week and all-time basis. Over a seven-day period, the T-Series archive of music videos and music clips pulled in 639.5 million weekly views. India’s biggest channel now has more than 225 million subscribers as well; that total also leads YouTube.
Another channel from the world’s second-most populous country repeated as the #2 finisher in our Global Top 50. Like T-Series, SET India provides a new home for content that originated on TV screens. The Sony-owned channel continues to hit it big on YouTube by giving South Asian audiences easy access to their favorite shows. In return, those viewers provided SET India with 584.6 million weekly views in our latest count.
Last week, I discussed the idea of a “big three” at the top of our Global Top 50. Sure enough, those channels took the top spots in our latest chart as well: T-Series was first, SET India was second, and Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes completed the trifecta. The U.S.-based animated sing-along channel continues to outpace all other hubs in its home country. After picking up 580.1 million weekly views, Cocomelon was almost able to surge past SET India into the #2 spot, but not quite.
The fourth-place finisher in our Global Top 50 was able to improve its chart position by nine spots after getting 50% more views than it received a week ago. Kids Diana Show often trails other family vlogs in terms of weekly viewership, but by gaining 442 million weekly views, the globetrotting channel was able to leave Like Nastya, Vlad & Niki, and LeoNata Family in its rearview mirror.
This week, One More is the highest-ranked YouTube Shorts channel in our Global Top 50 and the #5 channel overall. The subsidiary of a Cyprus-based media company earned 413.2 million weekly views.
A YouTube Shorts channel from Australia is one of many short-form hubs committed to inspirational content. Zane Holmes, a creator from Australia, is one of several TikTok stars who has taken his channel to YouTube and our Global Top 50.
Holmes’ YouTube channel is still pretty new. The 220.8 million weekly views he recorded during the last full week of September account for about one-third of his lifetime YouTube traffic. Holmes nearly tripled that traffic week-over-week, which allowed him to reach 29th place in the Global Top 50. He was the only Australian representative in our latest worldwide ranking.
Though many of Holmes’ top videos are the sort of heartwarming fluff that is common in the short-form world, one of his biggest hits deserves special attention. Holmes is one of the creators who has put together a “Black Ariel” supercut. By showing how excited Black people got when they saw a Little Mermaid who looked like them, Holmes celebrated the power of representation — and got about 28 million views in the process.
Though Holmes was uploading videos on TikTok before he came to YouTube Shorts, his viewership on the latter platform has already surpassed what he pulls in on the former. With the imminent arrival of ads on Shorts, YouTube’s micro-video community will only grow more powerful.
Here’s a breakdown of the Top 50 Most Viewed channels this week in terms of their countries of origin:
United States: 18 channels in the Top 50.
India: 12 channels in the Top 50.
Pakistan and South Korea: 3 channels in the Top 50.
United Kingdom and Vietnam: 2 channels in the Top 50.
Australia, Brazil, China, Cyprus, France, Japan, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, and Turkey: 1 channel each in the Top 50.
This week, 29 channels in the Top 50 are primarily active on YouTube Shorts.
Nearly two months after it began, the legal feud between Netflix and the creators of the ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical‘ has been resolved. After accusing Abigail Barlowand Emily Bearof profiting off Bridgerton “without permission,” the distributor of the Regency romance has reached a settlement with the two songwriters.
Barlow and Bear’s response to the suit was due on September 22, but that retort never arrived. Instead, Netflix dropped the case a day later. In a brief notice, the streamer agreed to dismiss its legal action “with prejudice,” which means the lawsuit cannot be refiled in the future. Though the notice didn’t say why the case had been dismissed, Variety confirmed that the two parties were able to reach a settlement.
The ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ consisted of clever theatrical numbers inspired by the show’s characters, settings, themes, and plot. Barlow and Bear became quarantine-era stars by posting those songs on TikTok, where both women generated millions of likes. The success of the “unofficial” recordings culminated at the 2022 Grammys, where Barlow and Bear won an award for the Best Musical Theater Album.
Emboldened by their meteoric rise, the songwriting duo began selling tickets for live performances of their ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ catalog. That’s when Netflix’s lawyers came calling. In its original complaint, the streamer alleged that Barlow and Bear refused to comply with its demands despite “repeated objections.” Bridgerton showrunner Shona Rhimes alleged that the TikTok stars were earning profits they were not entitled to. Julia Quinn, the author whose books inspired the series, expressed similar concerns.
The lawsuit forced Barlow and Bear to halt plans for additional live performances. Most notably, they canceled a concert that would have brought the ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ to London’s famed Royal Albert Hall. Though the songwriters may not have a chance to bring their TikTok hit to any more live audiences, they can still take advantage of the positive response their unofficial musical received. As they note on their website, their Bridgerton-themed recordings took them to the top of the Spotify charts. No matter what they write next, it’s bound to generate buzz as well.
Any future performances of the ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ would likely require Netflix’s consent. We don’t know how the streamer feels about that possibility, since the terms of the settlement haven’t been made public. According to Deadline, Netflix is “satisfied” with the results of the legal battle, but it hasn’t made a public comment on the dismissal of the case. Barlow and Bear have been quiet, too. I guess we’ll have to wait for Lady Whistledown’s next publication to learn the secrets of this settlement.
On September 24, about 27,000 fans filed into The Valley, but they weren’t there to watch the soccer stadium’s usual occupants, Charlton Athletic F.C. Instead, the match of the day pitted the Sidemen against a group of “YouTube All-Stars.” After 90 thrilling minutes, the U.K.-based supergroup defeated its all-YouTube counterparts and raised more than £1 million (~$1.08 million) for charity.
All seven regular members of the Sidemen played in the match. KSI, Miniminter, Zerkaa, TBJZL, Behzinga, Vikkstar123, and Wroetoshaw were joined by friends like MrBeast and LazarBeam, who filled out their 11-person squad. On the other end of the pitch, prominent creators like Noah Beck, AnEsonGib, and iShowSpeed looked to buck the trend that had defined previous Sidemen charity matches. The last time the septet held an event like this, it beat its All-Star opposition by six goals.
This latest tilt ended up with a much closer scoreline. The Sidemen prevailed by the slimmest of margins, winning 8-7. Simon Minter earned Man of the Match honors. The man known as Miniminter scored three goals and assisted on three more. The final goal in his hat trick, an audacious chip in the 87th minute, gave the Sidemen their decisive advantage.
The on-field action offered a mix of footballing drama and YouTube drama. The most prominent member of the Sidemen, Olajide ‘KSI’ Olatunji, is known as a prolific smack talker. Before the match, he dissed iShowSpeed (real name Darren Watkins Jr.) and promised that the American teenager would be “exposed” on the pitch. Just seconds into the first half, Speed retaliated by taking down KSI with a crunching tackle.
The Sidemen maintained their winning record against the YouTube All-Stars, but the group’s biggest win came online. The official stream for the charity match peaked at 2.6 million concurrent viewers, which ranks it among the most-watched videos in Sidemen history. At the time of this post, that clip is up to 19.7 million views.
The event’s big viewership was also a win for the Sidemen’s partner charities. The million-pound sum will be split among four organizations: Teenage Cancer Trust, Living Miserably, Rays of Sunshine, and M7E. The last of those groups is an educational initiative set up by Miniminter himself.
“What a day. I’m absolutely knackered but I’m so proud of what the social media/online community did today,” KSI tweeted after the match. “So entertaining & raised so much money for charity. A historic moment. Thanks to everyone that made this event so special.” The creator, boxer, and beverage magnate ended his tweet by pledging to “do it again next year.”
Charity matches are great, but some of the creators who took the pitch at The Valley could be destined for greater footballing feats. According to Goal, professional club Crawley Town sent a scout to the September 24 event. Perhaps influencer soccer will join influencer boxing as a significant sporting trend.
When the company formerly known as Teespring rebranded last year, it counted about 450,000 creators among its user base. Now, Spring has hired a new exec who will make sure the e-commerce company is meeting the needs of that audience. Rodrigo Velloso, whose career has taken him from YouTube to Twitter to Roblox, has been brought on as Spring’s first-ever VP of Creator Success.
Velloso has had a long career in the digital media economy. His jobs have typically required him to work closely with creators in order to assess and meet their needs.
Those experiences will be central to his role at Spring. “As VP of Creator Success, my primary role is to ensure that Spring creators accomplish their evolving fan community development objectives using the Spring platform,” Velloso told Spring CEO Chris Lamontagne in an introductory post. “Creators today want to engage, retain, grow, activate, monetize, delight and authentically connect with their communities. The physical and digital products, services, and content they provide are all key elements of those relationships. Creators want increasingly sophisticated capabilities to address those opportunities in ways that are innovative, differentiated, integrated, fan-friendly, and sustainable.”
I’m delighted to share that I’ve joined @spring4creators as the company’s first ever VP of Creator Success!
Eager to collaborate with creators and partners to build innovative commerce and community experiences and moments. Hit me up!https://t.co/qcIb9iSRgb
Another role Velloso mentioned in his introduction is his duty to “keep Spring’s finger on the pulse of creator needs and requirements and work with mine and other teams at the company to make sure that we are responding to creators to the best of our ability and staying ahead of their needs.” That’s a particularly important job, since Spring is constantly expanding its list of services. The company first gained renown by helping individuals set up their own merch shops, but it now covers many areas of the creator economy, ranging from NFTs to links-in-bio. That’s one reason its name lost the “Tee” — Spring is now much more than a place to buy shirts.
By keeping close tabs on creator communities he knows well, Velloso will point Spring in the right direction as it continues to expand. According to a press release from the company, Velloso will also assist creators so they can “successfully engage, grow, activate, monetize and authentically connect with their communities by using the platform.”
Velloso is not the first Big Tech alum Spring has hired this year. In April, former Meta exec Annelies Jansen joined the company as its President and Chief Operating Officer.
Triller has buried the hatchet with two hip-hop icons. It has settled a legal dispute with Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, who had previously alleged that the TikTok competitor owed them $28 million due to missed payments.
The two producers, whose real names are Timothy Mosley and Kasseem Dean, are the creators of the beat-making battle series Verzuz. The early-pandemic hit became a key piece of Triller’s content lineup after the platform acquired the show in March 2021. Problems arose about a year later, however, after Mosley and Dean alleged that Triller had not fully paid out the sums it owed to the two Verzuz frontmen. In total, the outstanding payments added up to $28 million, according to the lawsuit Mosley and Dean filed in August.
As part of the settlement, Triller will “increase the ownership stake given to the artists that Timbaland and Swizz Beatz brought to Triller as part of the original deal.” The platform, which sold a majority stake to Ryan Kavanaugh’s Proxima Media in 2019, will now have an easier time continuing Verzuz. There have been no new episodes of the show for more than two months. In a statement, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz said they will “continue giving fans the music and community that they’ve come to know and love from the brand.”
An outside observer could easily look at all these details and conclude that Triller is having money problems, but the app is not wavering from its plan to launch an IPO. It made its first attempt to go public earlier this year, but that deal fell through. Not to be denied, Triller raised $200 million in convertible debt financing, which it could use to fund an IPO before the end of 2022.
“Creators started this and will continue building it,” said Triller Executive Chairman Bobby Sarnevesht in response to the Verzuz settlement. “This is a victorious moment in the Triller and Verzuz relationship as we march together toward the public markets. Stay tuned.”
Verzuz initially broke out on Instagram. 43 episodes of the series have aired thus far.
How much do you love your favorite fast food restaurant? Would you be willing to defend it against an assembly of popular Twitch personalities? If you answered yes to those questions, you’ll want to check out DoorDash‘s ‘Battle of the Brands‘, a two-day event that begins at 6 PM ET on September 24.
Battle of the Brands will take over DoorDash’s official Twitch channel during the last weekend of September. The event’s chosen battleground is MultiVersus, the multiplayer brawler released by Warner Bros. The first day features a round-robin between 10 streamers, each of whom is representing a specific DoorDash delivery option. The competition resumes on Sunday with a double-elimination tournament that will also begin at 6 PM ET.
Most competitors are going to war for well-established brands; GrandPooBear, competing on behalf of Dunkin’, certainly has my support. FaZe Mew went in a different direction by choosing to represent his network’s sandwich concept. FaZe Clan launched FaZe Subs in July after partnering with DoorDash earlier in 2022.
Nine-year-old DoorDash is providing the Twitch community with plenty of reasons to tune into the MultiVersus melee. Promotions for BJ’s Restaurants, Chili’s, and It’s Just Wings will be revealed during the two-day stream. Anthony_Kongphan will probably get a lot of support from hungry viewers. His partner restaurant, KFC, will be offering a $3 discount as part of the Battle of the Brands.
Chris Puckett, a longtime esports broadcaster, will lead the Battle of the Brands broadcast. He will be joined Austy, who will add commentary across multiple MultiVersus clashes.
“Battle of the Brands is shaping up to be an epic livestream event with 10 community favorites competing playing MultiVersus on behalf of some of our favorite national restaurants,” Puckett said in a statement. “DoorDash has packed the weekend full of fun with awesome giveaways and no shortage of insane gameplay.”
The champion of the competition will win the $15,000 grand prize, plus a year’s supply of DoorDash. The runner-up will take home $5,000 and six months of DoorDash gift cards. The total prize pool for DoorDash’s two-day Twitch event is $35,000.
Now, it’s upping the video description character limit from just 300 to a whopping 2,200.
If you’re wondering how the “Nearby” feed and this new limit–which may seem like pretty disparate parts of TikTok’s platform–link up, both updates are aimed at making content across TikTok more easily searchable for users.
The character limit will allow videomakers to include much, much longer descriptions—and therefore potentially many, many more SEO terms. Adding more characters means creators can go from saying they went to a cool bakery in San Francisco to specifically naming the bakery, dishes they had, and maybe even telling a little story about their experiences.
All that same information might be included verbally or via captions in their video, but audio/video contents aren’t visible to search engines. If users duplicate or add info in their video description, though…Suddenly “search engine TikTok” might become a real thing.
And it’s worth noting that TikTok’s telling users if they add longer and “more searchable” descriptions to their videos, their content is more likely to show up on people’s For You pages.
A screenshot posted by social media consultant Matt Navarra shows TikTok telling users the increased character limit “allows you to express more details about your creations, describing what your videos show, giving you the opportunity to get closer to your audience, generating more engagement while becoming more searchable and better recommended by TikTok to viewers.”
Woah…! TikTok has increased video description character limit to 2,200 characters!
YouTube is making sure that its TikTok competitor has no shortage of monetization options. Days after the Google-owned platform revealed that it will start running ads on YouTube Shorts in 2023, it announced a beta test for the Shorts version of its “tip jar” feature, Super Thanks.
Viewers can use Super Thanks to show their appreciation for their favorite videos and creators. The feature was first introduced in 2020 under the name Viewer Applause, and it was rebranded to Super Thanks a year later. Users choose from a menu of fixed tip amounts, ranging from $2 to $50. These contributions are highlighted in the comment sections of the associated videos.
YouTube’s introduction of YouTube Shorts ads briefly mentioned the short-form version of Super Thanks. A press release from the company noted that its Partner Program would be adjusted to give more creators access to secondary monetization features. You can head to this page to check if you’re eligible for Super Thanks.
Now, a video on YouTube’s Creator Insider channel has provided more details about how Super Thanks will work on Shorts. According to the update, a “subset of creators who already have Super Thanks enabled” have been granted the opportunity to beta test the feature on their short-form content. Additionally, the ability to purchase Super Thanks on Shorts will be limited to “a subset of viewers.” A wider rollout is planned “in the coming months.”
Once Super Thanks is fully rolled out on Shorts, YouTube’s tipping features will be available on short-form content, long-form videos, and live streams. The first two formats are covered by Super Thanks, while the third offers a similar option called Super Chats. YouTube is wise to improve monetization options across its platform, since it is urging creators to adopt a “multiformat” approach to their careers.
Virtual tip jars are not unique to YouTube. Other social media platforms, such as Twitter, TikTok, and Tumblr, have introduced similar features.
Hopefully, Super Chats will establish itself as a secondary revenue stream on Shorts once ads arrive on that format next year. However, Super Chats took years to move from initial rollout to widespread availability, so micro-video creators may need to be patient if they hope to rake in tips.
Twitter, like many places on the internet, is full of trolls. And also lots of people worse than trolls.
Those people are why Tracy Chou founded Block Party. The tech startup offers what it describes as “middleware”–aka third-party augments that operate on top of existing social media platforms and let users control their experiences.
In Twitter’s case, Block Party lets you do things like blacklist individual tweets so that your account automatically blocks anyone who likes or retweets that post. That’s a feature any Block Party user gets for free; it also offers paid functions like keyword filters, where users can block accounts that tweet specific words or have specific words (or emojis, a big help for people who use screen-readers) in their usernames.
The round was led by Stellation Capital with participation from venture-capital firms Impellent Ventures, Fuel Capital, Goodwater Capital, and Hyphen Capital. Also participating were Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, Twitter’s director of machine learning ethics; Twitter’s former head of product Jeff Seibert; Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp; and Instagram’s former head of growth Bangaly Kaba.
“We’ve gotten a bunch of initial validation around, is this product going to be useful to folks?” Chou told TechCrunch. “Is it going to be possible to build on top of platforms? Is there going to be a willingness to pay for this, like how big is the market here?”
Chou said Twitter actually got in contact with Block Party to ensure the startup could build on its API.
“It’s been really cool to see that they understand that strategic alignemtn, where it’s a win-win-wint o have a company like Block Party building the safety tooling,” she said. “It’s good for the end user, because they have better tooling to be more in control of their experience.”
Block Party currently has four full-time employees and plans to expand beyond Twitter to other social media platforms, Chou said.
If you’re a game developer, there’s a new way for you to get Jason Gastrow‘s “seal of approval.” Gastrow, the reviewer known as Dunkeyon YouTube, is launching a business called Bigmode that will publish indie video games.
Gastrow’s singular and consistently funny reviews have brought more than 3.5 billion lifetime views to his YouTube channel. His videos are often shared on Reddit, where Gastrow is lauded for his willingness to state the sort of opinions that are withheld by some mainstream outlets. He is not afraid to criticize AAA games, and he is equally eager to prop up smaller games that would otherwise fly under the radar.
The latter of those two qualities is at the heart of Bigmode. In an intro video for the publisher, Gastrow explained that he wants to provide indie developers with the exposure and reach their creativity deserves. “I’ve been on YouTube for 11 years now and one of the core themes of my channel has always been to slam dunk soulless cash grabs into the garbage can and lift up and praise the truly inspired works of art in this medium,” he said. “For years and years and years, I have always sought out the very best indie games out there and have tried to do them justice, putting millions of eyes on the games that actually deserve attention.”
Though Bigmode is an ambitious venture for Gastrow, the creator doesn’t plan to abandon videogamedunkey any time soon. Instead, he sees his new business as “a harmonious expansion of my channel.” He and his partner Leah will be both the outward faces and the internal leaders of Bigmode, and Gastrow explained that he wants to directly oversee the distribution process for the games his company publishes. Some observers have questioned his qualifications, while others have asked why a reviewer is any less qualified to launch a publishing business than a more traditional founder.
Can’t believe dunkey started a video game publisher with no experience instead of taking the normal approach: getting a Harvard MBA, working at McKinsey for five years, and then failing upward between C-suites for the rest of your life
Big Tech companies are getting squeezed on both ends of the political spectrum.
As conservative lawmakers attempt to push through laws that could end social media censorship, liberal activists are urging YouTube, Meta, TikTok, and Twitter to adopt a no-tolerance approach to dangerous content. Most recently, a coalition of about 60 civil rights organizations spoke out against those companies and accused them of facilitating conspiracy theories related to the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Dealing with the big lie
The coalition is named Change the Terms, and it laid out its criticisms of Big Tech companies in a series of memos and meetings. The biggest allegation is that top social platforms haven’t done enough to remove posts that claim the 2020 election was rigged. That idea, which Change the Terms calls “the big lie,” is still being peddled on social media even though Big Tech companies have committed to curbing political misinformation. Widespread acceptance of the big lie led to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
According to The Washington Post, the Change the Terms memos blast Meta for refusing to ban all talk of the big lie. The missives also call out Twitter and YouTube’s struggles as they attempt to enforce their bans on election misinformation. Spanish-language conspiratorial content is cited as a particular problem for YouTube.
“The past few election cycles have been rife with disinformation and targeted disinformation campaigns, and we didn’t think they were ready,” coalition leader Jessica González told WaPo. “We continue to see…massive amounts of disinformation getting through the cracks.”
Damned if you do…
Spokespeople for YouTube, Meta, TikTok, and Twitter have laid out the steps their companies to neuter misleading political content during the midterm season. YouTube has argued that its stringent enforcement of its election conspiracy ban has cut down misinformation across the social web.
Even when these tech companies do comply with calls to address the rhetoric behind the January 6 attack, they come under fire. The Texas law HB 20, which attempts to ban all forms of censorship on social media, is still alive after a series of court battles. The Supreme Court is likely to decide whether conservative lawmakers will succeed in their efforts to prevent social media companies from moderating their platforms.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine a moderation policy that would please both Democrats and Republicans. Through Big Tech, America’s major political parties are trying to decide how January 6 will be remembered.
Who has a solution?
The left-wingers looking to save democracy and the right-wingers hoping to protect their speech are both eager to criticize tech companies. Both groups, however, seem a bit short on solutions. Even if Big Tech wants to eliminate the big lie, how does it reckon with the speed at which conspiracy content spreads? And if HB 20 is going to eliminate censorship, how will we prevent social media platforms from becoming dangerous cesspools of extreme rhetoric?
Leaders in Washington need to find answers to these questions. The rules governing social media platforms are outdated, and in many cases, they were written before those platforms ever existed. Updating those laws would be more useful than excoriating Big Tech, but that would probably require these partisan bodies to work together.
The Times reports BeReal executives are trying to avoid what they see as the “pitfalls” of becoming too general-interest and advertising-heavy like Instagram, or becoming a “one-hit wonder” like Clubhouse.
Discussions about monetization involve looking at how revenue can be earned without ruining BeReal’s established user experience, the outlet says.
To date, BeReal—which, for those who don’t know, sends users a push notification prompt once a day and gives them two minutes to post an unedited photo or video in response to it—has not earned any revenue from users, instead operating entirely on money raised from three funding rounds.
The total amount BeReal has raised has not been publicly disclosed, but its June 2021 Series A round brought in $30 million, and was led by investors Andreessen Horowitz and Accel.
The Times reports BeReal intends to keep its core platform free, and will charge users for extra features. People familiar with the matter told the outlet these features likely will not launch until the latter half of 2023 at earliest.
Those people also said BeReal has not completely ditched the possibility of bringing in ads; it’s just exploring other avenues first.
Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each creator has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments here.
Steve Onotera didn’t want to be a guitar teacher.
He wanted to be a rock star.
As a 13-year-old, he saw Blink-182 once live in concert, and he was utterly, completely smitten. That, he decided, was what he wanted. So he picked up a guitar, and by the time he was ready for college, he was ready for his passion to be his career. He enrolled in music school in Toronto, and during his first year, met this guy named Joel. They shared a similar goal: hit it big in the music industry. It seemed far-fetched.
Until Joel and his band went viral.
See, when Onotera met Joel, he was just some guy. But now, you probably know him as Joel Cassady, aka the founder and frontman of Walk off the Earth. When the now chart-topping band first went viral on YouTube with its “five people, one guitar” cover of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Onotera was inspired. If his college pal could make it on YouTube, so could he.
That was in 2012. Now, a decade later, Onotera is Samurai Guitarist, and he’s got more than a million subscribers tuning (pun intended) in for his musical content.
Check out our chat with him below.
Tubefilter: If somebody’s reading this and has never seen your videos and doesn’t know who you are, tell me a little bit more about your background and how you ended up on YouTube.
Steve Onotera: This is a bit of a long story, so I’ll try to make it somewhat short, but I picked up guitar when I was 13. I saw Blink-182 playing in 1999. Since then it’s always been a thing that’s driven me for the past 20 years.
I just never really knew how I would accomplish this goal of reaching people and building an audience and doing all that kind of rock star-type stuff. So I tried bunch of things, played a bunch of gigs, ended up in school for music in Toronto.
And when I went school for music, the first guy I really connected with—his name was Joel—we ended up being roommates and started playing together, and he joined this band. About four months after him joining the band, they were doing YouTube stuff and they hit it like massively big with a cover of the Gotye song “Somebody That I Used to Know.” They did a video where the five of them were playing one guitar.
Tubefilter: Oh, I’ve seen that!
SO: Yeah, Walk off the Earth. So the band were very good friends of mine, and Joel was my closest musical friend. And he was just this guy I connected with at college, and this was the first time I’d ever seen anybody reach any form of real success in the music industry. These guys were not rock gods who I had on a pedestal that were just on a whole nother level. These guys were my friends. I knew them. And to see them go from playing the same shows I was playing with some other bands to like being on Ellen and getting a record deal…In a way it was like overnight success they’d been working toward for 10 years.
But I saw that happen through YouTube, and that planted the seed in my head that there’s something to this YouTube thing. I was like, well, these guys are no different than me. It’s not like they’re these musical prodigies. If they can do this, I think I can do this too.
I was watching the news coverage of their video, “five people play one guitar.” And I remember very clearly this one news anchor was like, “That was pretty cool, but I wonder what it would be like if one person played five guitars.” He was kinda like, “Haha, okay, that could never happen.”
But then I was like, “You know what? I wonder if I could play five guitars.” So in my little basement apartment in Toronto, I went to all my friends and borrowed five of their acoustic guitars and I set them up and I figured out how to play them like a harp and shot a video of me playing a Beethoven song on five guitars.
I didn’t have YouTube channel at this point, but I knew there was something into this YouTube thing. So I just kind of sat on that, put it on a hard drive. I remember my last year at college, we had to make a business plan for what we wanted to do after college. And most people were making things for like teaching studios or jazz bands or whatever, but I made one for a YouTube channel. I still have hte document for this And this was like years before I even started on YouTube, but I came with a business plan for it.
Tubefilter: And then…?
SO: So then I graduated college and I’m like “Oh my god, okay, what am I gonna do?” I had to actually figure out a way to make a career of this information and this skill I’ve been practicing for the last however many years.
My first thing I started doing was like, I was trying to move down to Nashville to write country music, essentially, just because I feel like I have a bit of a knack for that style of music, even though I don’t necessarily love it a ton. I saw that as being like a way to attain that thing I always wanted, which was just success in music. So I started going down to Nashville and writing country music.
Then a friend of mine from back home in Winnipeg was like, “Hey, I wanna start a band and try to try to do something.” So I was like, well, I got this idea. I was like, “Here’s how we’re gonna do this. I got a bunch of ideas for YouTube videos, these crazy ideas that have been kind of stockpiling for the better part of two years. We’re gonna basically take the Walk off the Earth approach. We’re gonna do a bunch of songs, but we’re also gonna do crazy covers on YouTube and that’s how we’re gonna grow.”
We worked on that band for maybe a year and a half, two years, and just kept on hitting hurdles. It was hard finding singers. I’m not a singer, so it was hard finding singers and hard finding people to commit to it, especially when it’s just an idea. It was very much a vision that I had on how we would do this. It’s hard to get people to commit to a vision.
And I needed that. I knew I needed the full buy-in. These video ideas I had took a lot of time to get going. So I just got frustrated and was like, “I’m gonna start doing this myself.” I started shooting these videos and posting them on Instagram.
Tubefilter: Oh, Instagram was first?
SO: Yeah. This was back when Instagram was 15 seconds long. I would make some of these little things, post them on Instagram, and it was cool because for the first time in my life, people who I never knew were watching my stuff, commenting and subscribing on my Instagram page. It was kind of my testing ground to see if there’s something to this.
Before long I’d built up maybe 500 followers on Instagram, which seems like nothing now. But back when you’ve never reached anybody outside your friends and family, like this was like earth-shattering to me. The question I kept on getting on my little 15-second Instagram videos was like, “What’s your YouTube channel? Where are the full videos?” So the natural next progression was couple months after I started doing the Instagram thing. I started a YouTube channel and called it Samurai Guitarist. And that’s my story. I guess the origin story of me starting YouTube. I tried to keep it short but that’s the best I could do.
Tubefilter: Perfect. Where did “Samurai Guitarist” come from?
SO: Well, I should say I actually rebranded—I switched over my Instagram handle before I made the YouTube channel. So at some point I rebranded my Instagram channel because my name is Steve Onotera, which is not the most memorable name. Especially if you’re trying to get like people like, “Hey, go check me out. It’s steve’[email protected]” It’s just like, one’s gonna remember how to spell that or remember it.
I was thinking what I can do to be a little more engaging and interesting and fun, and I’m of Japanese descent, so the first thing that came to my mind was like, “Okay, do a samurai thing.” It’s been fun to do in that sense, it’s easy to do branding around it. All my merch is Samurai Guitarist stuff and I can basically go to any artist and be like, “Hey, what’s your version of Samurai Guitarist?” And everyone comes up with something different, but it’s always a cool image.
It’s just so much easier to build a brand around than my name. I don’t remember exactly the moment of inspiration where I was like “I want to be Samurai Guitarist.” I think it was one of those things where it was very natural and obvious to me.
Tubefilter: Can you talk a little more about the transition from Insta to YouTube?
SO: I went on Instagram and was like, “Okay, everyone go follow me on YouTube now.” And before I did that, I kind of had started making videos to release there. I’d stockpiled a couple videos. And I was like, I know I’m onto something because a lot of these have been received really well on Instagram. And I’m sitting on this five guitars, one person video, which I felt like had great virality. That’s just a recipe for viralness. And that was kinda my whole thing at the beginning. I was just gonna make viral videos and just do the Walk off the Earth thing. Eventually one of these videos was gonna go to the top of Reddit and it would put me on the map.
And that happened. I think it was like the fourth video that I did. I did a cover of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” using iPad apps. I just downloaded a bunch of guitar apps on an iPad. This was like three months after starting my YouTube channel. So I knew that I was kind of on to something, but this was just further reaffirming that there was something here.
And like, again, this was me, someone who was desperate for any sort of success, for the first time seeing hundreds of thousands of people watch my stuff. It’s just like an inexplicable. It’s a rush. Especially when it’s something that you’ve wanted since you were 13 years old.
That was the first time things started rolling a little bit, but it was never a smooth, easy task. I think the really difficult thing about doing those big viral types of videos I was making was that a lot of effort went into them and some of them did well, but some of them didn’t, and it was super discouraging to put like a month into a video and see it flop and then try to get like amped to have to do the whole thing again.
I think I took that approach for like two years and maybe built up, I don’t know, I wanna say maybe 30,000 subscribers. Then I started switching more to talking to the camera and instructional guitar stuff, even though I didn’t be a guitar instructor. But having done music school and taught a lot of guitar in my day, I knew that there was some information I could tap into.
So I started doing long-form stuff, and like any other YouTube person who’s been at this for a while will tell you, sometimes it does well, and the algorithm, for whatever reason, turned in my favor around three years in, and I got like 40,000 subscribers in the course of two months, and I hit 100,000 subscribers. That was super cool. Then it slowed down for a while, and I felt like things were just on the down and out. Then one of my videos got a million views; that was the first time that happened. That kept things going for a while. Then the roller coaster goes up, it goes down. Some eight years later here, I am finally hitting a million subscribers.
So it was a long journey. It was a path, and I thought it would happen faster. At points I did. But then also there were times where like, “Oh my God, this is never gonna happen.”
Tubefilter: But now it has.
SO: Yes. And now it has. It’s interesting in the sense that a lot of people ask me, “How do you feel about the million subscribers?” And the way I respond is it’s like….If you were saving up $100, but you weren’t saving up $100 to buy something. It’s not like you were saving up to buy some cool thing. You’re just saving up $100 for the sake of saving up $100. When you’re at $50, it feels impossible to do it. And then you earn a penny, you earn a more pennies, and you finally think “I’m on the way,” but it still feels impossible. But by the time you get like 70 bucks, 80 bucks, you’re like, “This is eventually gonna happen.” And it kind of becomes like normal for it to be on the horizon.
When it happens it’s like, “I hit that hundred mark. Now what?” Nothing changed. Just the number on a screen. And if you had given me $100 when I first started saving it, it would’ve been the same way. If I started YouTube and I just hit it viral right away and a million people came to my channel, that would’ve been incredibly overwhelming and the emotions would’ve flooded over me, but the day I had a million subscribers it was just like, oh, well it’s a Tuesday.
It was like, “Cool, I can stop thinking about it, I guess.” Leading up to it, I was like, “What’s gonna happen?” And then when it happened, I think I just stopped paying attention, which is I think better for the way you approach things and a better way of going about the whole thing. But yeah, it was interesting because a lot of people reach out to congratulate me and I’m very grateful for that. But it was also like, I don’t really feel different. This is another day. It’s a Tuesday.
Tubefilter: I feel like a fair number of people I speak to who hit a million after having been at this for eight or 10 years have this kind of mindset. It happens, and it’s casual, and you stop looking at the subscriber count.
SO: That’s exactly how I feel about the whole thing. There were bigger milestones, I think, that happened along the way. Like the first time I was able to support myself. The first couple years of YouTube, I’d moved back in with my parents at like age 20, feeling like a complete loser. All my friends were buying houses, getting married. And I was living in my parents’ basement, making a YouTube channel.
So a bigger milestone to me was like, when I moved out and was able to pay for my own rent and actually like pay taxes for the first time. The government actually wanted money from me. Being able to buy a house, that was a big one.
When we launched the course platform, online guitar courses, launching that platform and seeing the revenue that brought in and being able to adjust our style of living around that. To me, all those things were bigger milestones than the million.
It is cool! This is pretty cool. I got a YouTube plaque, so one of three things I’ve ever won in my life. And it was a goal. That was a goal when I first started and finally hitting it is certainly a sense of reward, but there’s not like an emotional attachment to it. I don’t feel really a whole lot different.
Tubefilter: What does the average day look like for you in terms of producing your videos and courses and living the rest of your life?
SO: We have a bit of a weird life in the sense that I work from home and my wife, she is employed by Samurai Guitarist incorporated. So we both work for the same thing, both work from home. We have one young kid, another one coming. Basically my days are wake up around noon, which is weird, but I’m a musician, so that’s not that weird, waking up around noon. We have lunch together. We spend some time doing whatever, hanging out, going for a walk. Uh, then Kenji used to take a nap around like three to six, but that doesn’t seem to be happening now.
During that time I would do my workout, maybe do some emails or whatever kind of stuff I could do with the computer. I would make dinner for the family, hang out a little bit after, and then around 10 o’clock when he goes to sleep, that’s when I would get to work. I would often work between like 10 to four would be like pretty normal. I mean, not normal, but I’ve been doing this for years, so it doesn’t seem that abnormal.
Usually Monday is idea day. I’ll try to come up with an idea, rough the script out. Tuesday is often recording the guitar and music examples. Wednesdays I’ll shoot the video, do a rough edit. Thursday is if there’s anything else that needs to be done, such as B-roll or whatever, I’ll shoot that on Thursday, come up with the thumbnail, do some animating work on Friday if I need to, and then repeat everything the next week.
And of course I do a wide range of types of videos, so that’s not a hard and fast thing by any means. If I need to come up with more intense samples. I’ll try to start them the week before if I can and maybe do an easier video the week before, but I try to do a video a week and sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less.
With the courses, those aren’t a ton of fun to do, but they are important. I usually write them on planes whenever I’m flying. I’ll try to write out a course and script a lot of what I do out. So the last time I went down to L.A., I wrote half the course on my flight down, half the course on the flight back. Then what I’ll do is probably at some point, just set aside two weeks to shoot the whole thing. Then I hand it off to my partner and she does all the animating and editing for those. I’ll do the animating and editing for my videos, and it’s a massive undertaking. They often take like many months to get done and then we launch them and then repeat.
Tubefilter: How many people total are on your team? Just you and your partner?
SO: Yeah, it’s just us. Those are the employees of Samurai Guitarist Incorporated. But every now and then I’ll outsource little things here and there, like my merch designs. I’ve got a number of artists that I contact. There’s a friend of mine who’s an audio mixer, so if I’m trying to really, really make a great-sounding recording, I’ll get him involved.
But for the most part, as far as YouTube goes, 99.9% of everything you see is like, I’m the only one who has hands on it. Which isn’t ideal. But the things that I don’t like doing are the things that only I can do. If I had my way, I would come up with a body double who could deliver the scripts, because I don’t like doing that. I don’t like sitting here and reciting my scripts, but only I can do that. I really quite enjoy editing and animating, but like that’s the kind of thing that I could hire out. I enjoy thumbnails a fair bit. A lot of the time, sometimes it’s a grind, but that would be also another thing I could outsource. But that’s the kind of stuff that I actually enjoy doing.
Tubefilter: Do you have any plans for yourself and your videos and your content over the next year or so?
SO: More stuff that’s different and interesting. I’ve got a couple ideas I’ve been sitting on involving traveling somewhere and checking out some little different music-related things. I think it would be fun for me to try to incorporate the things that really drew me into YouTube and music in the first place. Like, I don’t play as much guitar as I would like to because a lot of my time is spent doing editing and scriptwriting and stuff like that. An idea I had was one of my favorite guitar players, say I learned one of his songs and—this is just a pipe dream—but I learned one of his songs and practice it for a month and get as good as I can, then go to the studio where he recorded it, even hire like his backing band that he played with. To me that would be in the realm of exactly the kind of thing that I would want to do with this. That would be so, so much fun.
That kind of thing. Connecting with the passionate side, the musical side of things, and just involving that more in new and natural and exciting ways. I think it’s my goal with this, whatever that means. Finding ways to do that, that aren’t just trying to come up with an idea and just wishing I was actually playing guitar instead of in front of a camera.
On October 29, YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paulwill reenter the ring to take on a legendary opponent. Paul, who is still undefeated as a professional boxer, will face longtime UFC titleholder Anderson Silva. Another influencer will be featured as part of the undercard: Mike Varshavski, known online as Doctor Mike, will take on professional fighter Chris Avila.
Most Valuable Promotions is organizing the event, which will take place at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. For Paul, the clash with Silva will be a long-awaited return to professional boxing. After defeating Tyron Woodly for the second time last year, the younger Paul brother scheduled a bout against Hasim Rahman Jr., but the seasoned pro dropped out after he refused to go down to 200 lbs. for the fight.
In May, Varshavski outlasted Ian ‘iDubbbz’ Washburn in the main card of an influencer boxing event called the Creator Clash. Now, he’ll make his professional debut against Avila, who is close friends with accomplished mixed martial artist Nate Diaz. Varshavski — who entertains millions of followers by commenting on health trends and pop culture representations of doctors — has announced that he will donate his pay for the October 29 fight to the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem.
Silva, who held the UFC belt for 2,457 straight days between 2006 and 2013, will be the most decorated fighter Paul has faced thus far. Though the controversial YouTube star is stepping up the level of his competition, he still has a ways to go before he is fully recognized by the boxing community. Silva is 47, and like Avila, he is famous for mixed martial arts (MMA) rather than boxing. That’s why at least one promoter has said that the Silva fight won’t get Paul the recognition he deserves.
Paul has repeatedly attempted to shake his reputation for boxing against inferior competition. In addition to his scheduled showdown with Rahman, he also tried to book a date with British boxer Tommy Fury, but that plan was also scrapped. Perhaps pro boxers are worried about the damage they’ll do to their reputations if they get beaten by this guy.
Though there are still questions about Paul’s pugilistic prowess, the results of these two bouts could have big implications for the influencer boxing trend. If Paul can overcome Silva, he can show the world that he deserves to take on a more experienced boxer. And if Varshavski defeats Avila, more creators will be encouraged to put on gloves themselves.
The event will be available via Showtime pay-per-view.
After Robert Kyncl officially steps down as YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, he will dive right back into the entertainment business with a glamorous new title. Kyncl, who spent 12 years at YouTube and seven years at Netflix before that, will take over as the CEO of Warner Music Group, replacing outgoing chief Stephen Cooper.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced in August that Kyncl would abdicate his CBO title in 2023 in order to “start the next chapter in his career.” At the time, neither Wojcicki nor Kyncl indicated where the Czech-born businessman would head next, but it didn’t take long before major businesses began bidding for his services. On September 18 — three weeks after Kyncl’s career move was announced — Bloomberg indicated that Warner Music was courting the longtime YouTube operative.
Kyncl’s move to Warner Music is now official. In a statement, the label’s board of directors described the incoming CEO as an “outstanding leader” who will commit himself to the “continued transformation and success” of his new employer.
If transformation is what Warner wants, then Kyncl is the right person for the CEO job. Variety noted that Kyncl played a crucial role in Netflix’s journey from DVDs to digital. Then, at YouTube, his leadership was instrumental in cultivating the “creator economy,” which now encompasses 425,000 jobs on YouTube alone.
In his new gig, Kyncl will be concerned with a different sort of shift: He will lead Warner Music as the label figures out how to best leverage culturally-relevant platforms like TikTok and emerging live event spaces in the metaverse. Historically, the “big three” labels (Warner, Sony, and Universal) have developed a reputation for resisting internet-based streams and sales. Now, one of them will be led by a man who has a deep knowledge of digital platforms, communities, and monetization models.
Knycl will officially begin at Warner Music on January 1. He and Cooper will be joint CEOs for a month before the new hire takes over the position. “Music is an incredible creative force, with an unmatched ability to bring emotions, build communities, and propel change,” Kyncl said in a statement. “We’re just at the beginning of what’s possible in recognizing music’s true power, value, and reach. Thanks to Steve and his team, WMG is very well positioned for a future of serving artists and songwriters, as well as their fans.”
Will part of that service take place on YouTube? The connections between Kyncl’s present and future employers are more than coincidental. Lyor Cohen, a former decision-maker at Warner, is now the Global Head of Music at YouTube. Given the long-standing ties between those two execs, Kyncl and Cohen will have a chance to normalize relations that have historically been chilly.
Will those relations bring Warner artists to YouTube’s music licensing business? When Cohen announced Creator Music earlier this week, he said that “majors were intrigued” by the new service, though none of them have brought their catalogs to it. If YouTube can strike a deal with Warner Music, it can increase creator access to top hitmakers of the past (Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin) and present (Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran). And if a deal between Kyncl and Cohen could convince Sony and Universal to play nice with YouTube as well, that would be the icing on the cake.
Twitch wants a bigger cut of popular streamers’ revenue.
The platform says the “vast majority” of streamers earn 50% of revenue from channel subscriptions, which start at $4.99 per month and give subscribers access to things like special emotes and chat modes. Twitch takes the other 50% for itself.
But not all streamers are subject to that revenue share.
“[F]or some time we did offer standard agreements with premium subscription terms to select streamers as they grew larger,” Twitch president Dan Clancy said in a Sept. 21 blog post. “This isn’t something we’ve talked about publicly, but such deals are common knowledge within the streamer community.”
The “premium subscription terms” gave signing streamers 70% of subscription revenue, with Twitch taking a 30% cut.
Twitch stopped offering these terms to new streamers over a year ago, Clancy says.
And now it wants to make changes to previous agreements.
“For these streamers still on these premium deals, we’re adjusting the deal so that they retain their 70/30 revenue share split for the first $100K earned through subscription revenue,” Clancy said. “Revenue above $100K will be split at the standard 50/50 share split.”
That’s not $100K per year—it’s $100K total. Once a streamers hits that lifetime threshold, a further 20% of their subscription revenue will be taken by Amazon-owned Twitch forever.
According to Clancy, approximately 90% of streamers who have premium subscription agreements will not be affected “at their current revenue.”
“For those who are affected, we wanted to make sure the impact was minimal—not just by giving them ample time before the deal goes into effect—but also by offering an alternative way to earn revenue,” he said.
The change goes into effect June 1, 2023. As for the “alternative way to earn revenue,” Clancy means Twitch’s ad incentive program, which offers streamers monthly lump sum payments if they agree to broadcast for a specific number of hours, while running a specific amount of ads during those hours.
Reports that Twitch wanted to get rid of the 70/30 split have been around since the beginning of this year, along with rumors that it was considering softening the blow by removing the exclusivity clause that keeps partner and affiliate streamers from broadcasting anywhere else during the terms of their agreements.
Twitch might finally be doing something about the gamba meta.
It confirmed in August that it was taking a “deep-dive look” into gambling streams, and now it’s issued the first new policy related to that deep dive: A ban on “streaming of gambling sites that include slots, roulette, or dice games.”
But before you get too hype, there’s a caveat. That ban only affects sites “that aren’t licensed either in the U.S. or other jurisdictions that provide sufficient customer protections,” Twitch said in a statement sent out on its official Twitter account.
Still, this measure will hit major players like Stake, which is based in Curaçao and sponsors streamers including xQc, who last month said he’s wagered more than $685 million over the course of his paid partnership with the site.
Other sites the ban will strike include Rollbit, Duelbits, and Roobet, Twitch said. It “may identify others as we move forward,” it added.
In the same statement, Twitch said it’s still specifically allowing websites (apparently based and/or legal in any country) that “focus on sports betting, fantasy sports, and poker.”
The ban goes into effect Oct. 18.
Creators and viewers alike have expressed distaste for the “gamba meta” for months now, but Twitch is making this announcement just after streamers like Pokimane, Mizkif, and Devin Nash spoke out about its growing presence. After a livestreamed discussion between the three Sept. 18, Pokimane tweeted, “like if twitch should ban gambling.”
Her tweet got more than 317,000 likes and prompted the trending hashtag #TwitchStopGambling.
For an idea of exactly how prevalent gambling is on Twitch, StreamElements CEO Gil Hirsch tells Tubefilter that since April 2022, “the Slots category on Twitch has grown month-over-month soaring from 31M hours watched to over 50M hours watched in August.”
Hirsch added that during this same five-month period, Slots (the catch-all category many gambling streamers use to label their broadcasts) has “solidified its place in Twitch’s top 10 chart signifying that it has gone from a novelty to mainstay for streamers and viewers alike.”
Of the ten music videos that got the most views in their first 24 hours on YouTube, nine are from K-pop acts: There’s five BTS videos on the list, three Blackpink videos, and one video from Blackpink member Lisa. How have K-pop artists managed to have such big YouTube debuts? To answer that question, you’ll have to ask the audience — and read the sophisticated streaming playbook one fan group has put together.
That group is the Blinks, the catch-all name for Blackpink‘s fandom. When the formidable foursome — Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé, and Lisa — released the music video for ‘Pink Venom,’ the Blinks wanted to make sure that the group’s first single in two years made a splash. That’s exactly what happened.
‘Pink Venom’ soared to the top of the charts on YouTube and Spotify while bringing Blackpink to an unprecedented position in our Global Top 50 chart. The single got 90 million YouTube views in its first 24 hours of activity. That was the most 24-hour YouTube traffic ever received by a Blackpink single, and only two English-language BTS music videos (‘Dynamite’ and ‘Butter’) have ever gotten more first-day YouTube views.
The success of ‘Pink Venom’ was a coordinated effort by Blackpink diehards. A recent Vulture profile of the group’s fandom highlighted the strategies Blinks used to build up such impressive numbers. They kept tabs on YouTube’s policy pages, reached out to platform insiders on Twitter, and investigated the mysterious YouTube algorithm.
Their practices sound similar to what goes on at creator-facing companies and influencer marketing firms, but these aren’t industry professionals — they’re people around the world who use pseudonyms like W and Ash. “It depends on the leadership of the fandom to stay on top of the streaming rules,” W told Venture.
If you want to see how analytical and detail-oriented the Blinks are, take a look at the list of dos and don’ts the fandom compiled. The guide includes 25 steps that can help Blackpink get as much YouTube viewership as possible. There are also an equal number of warnings about behaviors that could run afoul of the platform’s streaming rules or discredit individual views. A similar list exists for Spotify as well.
You might think that YouTube is not happy with a group that openly manipulates and stretches policies in order to ensure record-breaking viewership. On the contrary, the Google-owned platform caters to the Blinks by turning Blackpink music video releases into tentpole events. The K-pop outfit’s 2020 single ‘Lovesick Girls’ helped kick off a YouTube web series called Released. For ‘Pink Venom,’ YouTube seized an opportunity to advertize its Shorts platform. It launched the #PinkVenomChallenge, which led to about 750,000 new short-form videos, per Vulture.
As of this post, another Blackpink song sits at the top of YouTube’s music charts, but don’t expect ‘Shut Down’ to be the last record-breaking music video from the dominant girl group. Now that BTS is on hiatus, the Blinks are eager to prove that Blackpink is the biggest K-pop act of right now. They’re making a pretty good case.
Have you heard the news? TikTok users are delivering updates from around the world.
A report published by the Pew Research Center studied news consumption across ten social platforms: Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Reddit, and LinkedIn. Pew asked respondents whether they use those feeds to consume news, and the overall trend was clear. On seven of the ten platforms, the percentage of users who are consuming news has declined since 2020.
Three platforms are bucking the trend: Instagram, Twitch, and especially TikTok. According to the Pew data, which measured the habits of about 12,000 respondents, 33% of TikTok users now use the app to seek out news. That’s good for an 11% increase since 2020. During that two-year period, the percentage of news-consuming TikTok users has eclipsed the equivalent figures for Instagram and YouTube. The only platforms where a higher percentage of users consume news are Facebook, YouTube, and Reddit.
There are a number of factors driving the growth of news on TikTok. One of those factors, of course, is Gen Z. Today’s college students and twentysomethings don’t just use TikTok as an entertainment destination, despite any claims made by the app’s higher-ups. Instead, those 18-to-24-year-olds see their favorite social platforms as multipurpose utilities. TikTok can be a search engine, a map, or a news outlet, depending on who’s using it.
That trend doesn’t tell the whole story, because TikTok isn’t necessarily the preferred news provider of Gen Z. Pew’s research shows that 67% of the news consumers on Snapchatare between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to 52% on TikTok.
The increasing proliferation of news on TikTok could have more to do with the people delivering the updates, rather than the people who receive them. The ByteDance-owned app has emerged as a breeding ground for forward-thinking reporters. Vice journalist Sophia Smith Galer (pictured above) has won awards thanks to her TikTok account.
V Spehar, whose short-form reports regularly receive millions of hits, told Tubefilter that the average TikTok user loves an underdog. That makes the platform a good place to experiment with a staid industry like news. “I often call TikTok the community theater of social media platforms,” Spehar said. “People root for you on TikTok.”
The authenticity of these creators is a selling point. It’s one reason why TikTok news consumption could soon catch up with YouTube and Facebook. Even the Biden White House respects the power of TikTok-based anchors — I guess the President keeps up to date on the short-form headlines.
Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
V Spehar was under their desk when they went viral.
And they’re still there now.
What started as a relaxed way to make a chill and casual news recap on TikTok as a hobby has become a new career for them. Don’t get us wrong, they take the news seriously and want their viewers to, too–but being serious doesn’t have to mean being intimidating. So, instead of talking about everything from student loans to Senate elections from your typical newscaster’s position behind a sprawling desk, they get a little closer to the carpet and break things down.
“The basics of it is that it’s daily, simple explainers on what’s most interesting in the news that day,” Spehar–who has a culinary background and has worked at organizations like Hungry Harvest combating food insecurity–tells Tubefilter. “The goal is that people hear something that piques their interest, go research more and think more about it, and have conversations in real life.”
Overall, Spehar says, “They don’t have to be scared or bombarded by breaking news every second.”
This approach–and their rapidly growing TikTok account, which is now at more than 2.7 million followers–got Spehar a job hosting the Los Angeles Times‘ TikTok account. And, recently, it’s gotten them another gig: They signed with podcast studio Lemonada Media to make V Interesting, a weekly show that’s billed as an expansion of their TikTok account where they can have the kinds of discussions they’ve always hoped their TikTok videos sparked for viewers.
Tubefilter: When and how did you end up on TikTok?
V Spehar: I started my TikTok back in April of 2020, really at the early stage of the pandemic when kind of everybody started their TikTok. I actually started off making funny culinary videos and trying to learn the platform, how to use the tools. I really just thought of it more as like a place for entertainment.
Then, after a while, I started doing explainers on stuff that was going on in politics, like Biden’s first hundred days in office, which escalated to doing the news, and then I got hired by the LA Times to host their TikTok accounts. And the basics of it is that it’s daily, simple explainers on what’s most interesting in the news that day. The goal is that people hear something that piques their interest, they go research more and think more about it and have conversations in real life. But overall, they don’t have to be scared or bombarded by breaking news every second or just the worst things that are happening. I try to keep it pretty balanced when it comes to good news and sort of harder-to-deliver news.
Tubefilter: So what’s your background? Are you a journalist by trade?
VS: Nope! So I’ve worked in a lot of different industries. My primary background is in the culinary industry. I was the head of impact programs and women’s entrepreneurship for the James Beard Foundation, and I’ve worked in food security programming. I have a political background in that I’ve been in rooms where politics happen, but I don’t have a journalist background in that I didn’t go to school for journalism and I didn’t even really set out on a journey to be what “Under the Desk” has become.
Tubefilter: So how did you end up there? Culinary is obviously a huge thing on TikTok, especially since the pandemic started, so how did you end up shifting to news instead?
VS: So I’ve always been really good at explaining complex things to people in a way that makes them feel included and empowered. That’s a lot of what I did in the culinary industry. If you go back like decades of my career, I was cooking and working in catering in front-of-house and restaurant management and bartending and all that. But then I transitioned to be more of a food systems educator, and really it came from being in that life and having a boots-on-the-ground kind of understanding of how food was circulating in the world and then applying that to solutions that needed to be found.
I had done really well in the food industry and I had decided that I wanted to do something that was more useful to the broader world, so I started working on food security programming and health equity programs. My first job there was with Hungry Harvest. We essentially made ugly produce cool. But being in the world of something as complicated as food insecurity and health equity, and being able to find common-sense solutions, explain them to other people, and connect supply chains, I think it’s just a natural skill of mine to take something really hard and break it down in the easiest-to-understand ways, and then disseminate that out to people who also want have a conversation about it or feel smart.
Tubefilter: I feel like that’s a rare skill. There’s a hard balance to strike there where you’re not coming off condescending.
VS: That’s why I’m under the desk. The purpose of being under the desk was I wanted to help people understand what was going on. Especially after January 6, coming into Biden’s first hundred days. So many folks had such an interest in that world and I understood it, but I was like, “I don’t wanna sit at the desk, though.” I don’t wanna be just another authority figure telling you what you need to know and how you need to know it.
I was kind of like, well, if we were just friends, right, and we’re gonna have a conversation about what’s going on, we would maybe have it at the water cooler, but I didn’t have a water cooler in my house. But I did have under my desk, and I was like, let me just be under the desk in this kind of world where it’s a safe place to just talk and learn and listen and explore ideas. It’s not coming from a place of authority, it’s coming from this kind of like silly, safe space.
Tubefilter: You definitely give that vibe.
VS: I give it because it’s authentic. That’s where I’m at in the journey. Asking the audience what they think, putting out what I think, being able to clearly outline facts from multiple different stories and points of views and quickly put them into “here’s what I’m seeing,” essentially, reading between the lines of all of this and “What are you guys seeing?”, “What are you thinking?”, as opposed to “Here’s the one single universal truth and that’s it.”
Tubefilter: Why did you pick TikTok in the first place, as opposed to another platform?
VS: I often call TikTok the community theater of social media platforms because people root for you on TikTok. Instagram is where you go if you want to see somebody’s perfect life, and I just didn’t have that kind of photography or video editing skill, and Twitter can be a really hard place because it is such a fast-moving kind of authoritative kind of snarky place—at least my experience with Twitter was.
TikTok was a place where you could build community and you could kind of, I don’t know, just explore a little bit more. Plus their creator tools are very easy to use and you get a finished, really polished product without having the videographer skills you need for YouTube. I just felt like TikTok was fun. It was easy. A lot of my friends were doing it. I liked the way you could meet people from all over the world and truly feel like you were creating a community and a connection with them. I didn’t feel like with other social media platforms that that was really the point of them, or that was even as possible.
Tubefilter: I’ve heard that from lots of people, that TikTok and YouTube Shorts are eradicating the videography barrier to entry for people.
VS: Yeah. Plus it’s fun. I got a lot of positive feedback even when I was doing the culinary videos, and when I switched over to do explainers, every night people commented on the news, but it was fun. It was just fun, and people liked it, and I liked watching other people’s content. It became addicting because it was fun.
Tubefilter: At the time, were you still working another position full-time?
VS: Oh yes. Yeah. I had a lot of guilt actually about initially considering leaving my job to go full-time as a content creator. I was at the time working for this company called Everything Food, and I had built up this program that essentially connects chronically ill patients with fresh produce delivery. We had found a way to get hospitals to pay for it, so it was incredibly important work, and I didn’t want to give that up because I felt like that was so important to the world and the people who relied on us to do this work. So when my TikTok started to get popular and I started to find myself really gravitating towards seeing this as a place that I could help people too, I went through…I think I stayed at my job for like a year of being very popular on TikTok, because I wanted to make sure there was a really solid handoff from that real job to becoming a full-time content creator.
Tubefilter: What was the point where you were like, “Okay, this is gonna become my job”? That’s a big step.
VS: I have an in-real-life talent for keynote speaking at entrepreneurial workshops. That is a very big part of my job. So I never went into this thinking “I’m gonna be a full-time TikTok creator” or “I’m even gonna be a full-time content creator.” And even to this day, up until doing the podcast, TikTok is really a great platform to build a name and some recognition for yourself, but TikTok doesn’t pay. I don’t really make money on TikTok. And because of the type of accounts I have, I don’t have sponsors. Like I don’t even, I never got the Coldest water bottle, and everybody got that one. I didn’t get that one. So I don’t have sponsored content. Every so often I’ll get one or two, or maybe I’ll do something with my in-real-life clients who want me to do something for TikTok.
My main job is and will always be in facilitating entrepreneurial workshops and doing keynotes. And now of course doing the podcast, which I’m able to live on that money. But yes, I am very honest about the fact that TikTok is not a place that you are likely to be a full-time creator.
Tubefilter: Yeah, I’ve seen some of the stats on the difference between what people make on long-form versus short-form and it’s dismal.
VS: The way that I think folks assume the money you make on YouTube is gotta be comparable to what you make on TikTok…It’s not at all. If we take the Depp/Heard trial, for example, I didn’t cover the Depp/Heard trial because I don’t really cover stuff like that. But I said one thing about it, like when I read the verdict, and people were like, “Oh, I bet you made like $6,000 on that post.” And I’m like, “Man, how did I make $6,000 on this post?” And they’re like, “That’s what people on YouTube are making. Lawyers talking on YouTube are making like $100,000 a month on views because of the Depp/Heard trial.” And I was like, “Babe, I can promise you that ain’t happening ever.”
Tubefilter: What does your average day look like in terms of doing this daily production?
VS: I absolutely love people who ask me if Under the Desk is my full-time job, and it is in the fact that I spend the most time on it. But like I said, you have an in-real-life challenge and you have to be able to show up in real life to make the kind of life you want, if you’re not gonna essentially be an influencer or model.
So I wake up, I check how the news from the night before was received. I’ll scroll through a couple of my favorite TikTokers, see what they’re up to. I read almost all of my DMs and comments, as many as I can, because I want it to be a conversation between me and the audience, so I’m really curious what they have to say, what they thought about it, and what they care about. I spent a good amount of time doing that.
Then I’ll kind of look and see like what’s happening. I’m a newspaper person, so I will check the LA Times, New York Times, The Post, and kind of just see what they think is trending. What’s interesting is sometimes what they’ve got on the front, I don’t think is that exciting, so I won’t talk about those things. So I’m just kind of information-gathering, vibe-gathering. What are people caring about? What are people gonna be asking about? What are they gonna be seeing?
Sometimes I’ll post something in the morning, but normally every single day at 7 p.m., I post the news, because that’s when people are looking for quick little clips that are gonna make them conversational. It’s not sensationalized headlines where you can really get enough just watching to say you’ve got the whole story. It’s just like, “Okay, I heard that, I’m curious, so I’m gonna look up a little bit more.”
Then I am working on the podcast almost all day. I had no idea how much effort and time and research would go into building a podcast like this, so that’s been really fun to try and learn that.
If anything breaking happens, I’ll post something. I’ll oftentimes try and think like, “Okay, are there any decisions or bills that are getting passed that folks maybe wanna hear about?” I do a good news-only episode because I want people to not be afraid to engage with the news, and I think we have been conditioned for so long to expect the news is bad news or it’s freaky news and it’s so heavy, so I want folks to be excited to tune into the news and maybe some bad stuff happened, surely some challenging things and stories are gonna be in there, but also there’s a reason to stay excited for tomorrow. There’s a reason to think that we can change things. There’s a reason to stay curious.
So that’s kind of the goals of the day. And then I just ride that wave. I’m still kind of out here winging it, man, just following what people are interested in, what I’m interested in, and truly treating it like…I know I used to get in trouble in school all the time for being too talkative. And I feel like now I get celebrated for that, where I’m like, “Oh my god, I heard this crazy thing. I can’t wait to tell you about it.” Like, “Lisa, oh my God, did you see this?” With Under the Desk, it’s like all these things we’re curious about. And now I can make that my career.
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