Artists on YouTube, once they’ve developed a steady following, are often faced with an interesting struggle between satisfying their fans and growing as an artist. It’s not like mainstream recording artists who have years between albums to evolve their style — YouTube artists are updating weekly, which leaves little room for subtle creative stretching.
Unfortunately, as we all know by now, the web community is not so keen on change (see every YouTube update from 2007-the end of time). This leaves YouTube artists either stuck with the style that brought them a fanbase or at risk of losing old fans who are unwilling or unable to embrace the YouTuber’s new creative direction.
Take a recent upload by YouTuber DeStorm Power “Do My Dance On Em,” which featured more explicit content than the rapper typically uploads to YouTube. Many of DeStorm’s fans weren’t happy with the new music video and as is so common in YouTube comments, let their opinions run wild with terrific grammar and spelling. One commenter writes, “sorry destorm this one is not that great like the freshprince [sic] said stick to your roots.”
The video received such negative response that the rapper issued his own comment:
The 200 plus likes on DeStorm’s comment and the hosts of positive comments are clear indicators that the YouTuber still has a loyal fan base But should this stop the rapper from branching out into more explicit mainstream-friendly content, or are YouTubers stuck with the content and style that originally shot them into internet stardom?
We reached out to DeStorm and asked the rapper about evolving his style on YouTube and the fear of losing fans. He told us:
“Although many YouTubers are afraid to evolve, I’ve never fit in that niche. YouTubers must begin to realize there is a huge difference between a fan and a subscriber. Subscribers push a button, watch videos and sometimes leave comments. Fans on the other hand support a creator by attending events, purchasing merch, music etc. Fans follow your career, get involved, and realize there’s far more to a creator than just his/her videos. Speaking from an artist’s standpoint I can clearly say I’d rather have 100k fans than 1mm subscribers any day.
My latest video experienced plenty of hate … not from fans but from subscribers. I know this because most comments boasted ‘you changed,’ ‘I miss the old Destorm,’ ‘you’re making mainstream music now?’, ‘you curse?’ All things that I’ve done since my inception on YouTube. My true fans and supporters who actually got my mixtapes or followed my career know I make music on all subjects, and that’s what makes a well-rounded artist.
If you ask most people who their favorite rappers are the majority would probably say Biggie or Tupac, who has inspired millions with songs like ‘Changes’ and ‘Dear Mama’ but still partied when he wanted to with songs like ‘I Get Around’ and ‘Temptations.’ It showed he was human. Some people may say Eminem also inspired millions with ‘8 Mile’ and still came back with ‘Smack That’ for the strippers, and we all know Jay-Z and Kanye do whatever they feel. From ‘Jesus Walks’ to ‘Bad Bitches.’ My point is, to be considered great at anything you have to remain true to yourself and do what you feel at the moment. Inspire when you feel inspiration and turn up when you wanna party. The real fans will get it. Yes you will lose people along the way, but don’t allow thumbs up and likes to keep you in a box. To all the creators: continue to create and do what you feel and the world will catch up. If they love your old videos make em a f***in’ playlist!”