YouTube has reigned supreme as a content house since its earliest days. The platform offered up a unique intimacy between content creators and their audience and young people looking for an outlet for their passions found a comfortable home in its boundlessness.
For millennials, YouTube is a rabbit hole of discovery, obsession and infatuation. The advent of vlogging undeniably shifted the entertainment landscape. Almost everyone has had an experience attempting to live by the brand slogan of “broadcasting yourself”.
Above all, YouTube’s impact on music has been extraordinary. The platform’s freedom has given birth to so many phenomenons over the last ten years. Uploading is easy – cutting above the noise is what proves difficult. Kids who grew up on social media, “knowing” their favourite artists on a personal scale is of utmost importance.
Artists who give an insight into their lives beyond their music have gone on to become worldwide sensations – the insight into their personalities and lives that YouTube that platform provides have proven imperative to this.
In the beginning, there was Troye Sivan
Looking at Troye Sivan‘s recent output, like the world-shaking release of his latest track ‘Bloom’, it’s easy to forget his self-made beginnings as a YouTube star. He began uploading full vlogs in 2012, but prior to that the South African-born teen had only uploaded videos of him singing – accumulating 27, 000 subscribers since he began all the way back in 2007. By 2016, after 4 years of deeply personal, funny and relatable vlogs, he’d racked up a massive 4 million subscribers and over 243 million total views on his channel.
His blogs included his emotional, vulnerable coming out story, musings on teenage life and shared stories with his other YouTube famous friends. Despite growing up as a child actor and pursuing music, it was truly the insight into his ultra-charismatic and magnetic persona that cut above.
Now, Troye is a bonafide pop icon. His 2014 EP, TRXYE debuted at No. 1 on iTunes in over 55 countries, scored the number 5 spot on the Billboard 200 and was certified Gold in Australia. His next EP Blue Neighbourhood nabbed a top ten spot on ARIA charts – by then, he was already regarded as a peer by the likes of Ariana Grande and Halsey.
In January he released the incredible ‘My My My’ – a truly electrifying modern pop anthem, carried off with the aplomb of a total pro. The track’s soothing, lush instrumentals and soaring hook prove Troye is among pop’s highest pantheon of talent.
Just this week, the unapologetic ‘Bloom’ was unleashed, and the RnB jam marks another shift into a more mature era for the singer, now a young adult.
Although his fanbase revel in his beginnings, he’s shaken off the label of a former YouTube star, his unique message and talent cutting through the millions of uploads, and the young hitmaker isn’t the only one to have done so.
Back in 2010, a Sydney band by the name of 5 Seconds Of Summer began to upload videos to YouTube. Covering tracks by blink-182, All Time Low and Ed Sheeran, people quickly started to notice just how talented they were. However, the videos depicted casual banter, a youthful spark and their distinct personalities – YouTube’s casual and DIY nature allowed for this, before major labels got a hold of the pop punk trailblazers.
Patty Walters, frontman of pop punk band As It Is also go this start as a YouTuber. Walters initially uploaded videos of himself performing every instrument on cover tracks he’d mixed and recorded himself. He also uploaded vlogs that were personal, giving fans insight into life with his girlfriend and life with his flatmates, placing him amongst the ranks of other popular YouTubers.
Alessia Cara, winner of this year’s Grammy Award for Best New Artist also used YouTube as a springboard for her career. “I’m Alessia and I sing songs that I like and hope you like them too. I sing in my closet and occasionally my bathroom,” reads her channel bio, already showcasing vulnerability and reliability that young fans relish.
If we throw it back to the ’00s, the Jonas Brothers were some of the first artists to amplify their fanbase and self-market through the platform. Although the band were already signed away to Disney, they created skits, alter-egos and self-performed interviews that ultimately portrayed their wholesome and self-deprecating personas.
As social media’s power only gets stronger, consumers are finding their hearts lie in the intimate connections gained from their favourite artist. And although Troye isn’t uploading videos of his daily activities anymore, his biggest strength is that his music carries the same message of openness, confidence and self love that he initially portrayed.