AJ Rafael on Reaching 500K YouTube Subscribers and ‘Red Roses the Movie’ [INTERVIEW]

NMR BFF AJ Rafael recently hit a big YouTube milestone, and so here we are to celebrate: Happy 500K subscribers, AJ! Tonight, in your honor, we will be clubbing a few extra baby seals during NMR’s annual “Take Out Your Latent Anger on Cute Animals” pilgrimage. Don’t judge, NMR readers — these cathartic outings are a necessary evil when male writers have to deliver as much beauty guru content as we do.

… Which is why it’s always a breath of fresh air when we get to talk up singer-songwriter AJ Rafael, who is all at once superbly talented, hardworking, friendly, and humble (yes, NMR will be asking AJ Rafael to be our Valentine). AJ has been a musical fixture on YouTube since 2006 – and Myspace before that (remember when the internet was Myspace, and Myspace was Tila Tequila? [shudder]) – and he is still entertaining the internet masses with his smoothly crooned covers, collabs with music cohorts like David Choi and Tori Kelly, and of course, his own original music. His latest EP collection, the iTunes top 20-chartingBeautiful Escape,” was released in April of last year, and the preceding album before that one, “Red Roses,” is being given the silver screen treatment. Read my interview with AJ below and find out more about “Red Roses the Movie,” his thoughts on YouTube’s subscription changes and his 500K subscriber win.

It seems like you’re always tirelessly at work on something, so how was your holidays? Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

AJ Rafael: It mostly doesn’t feel like work, but I definitely feel busy at times. Holidays were tough because my stepdad has been in a coma for two months. Right now, when I think of the New Year, it’s to be there more for my mom and help her out as much as I can. But other than that, it was great being with my family, especially my sister, Jasmine, because she moved to L.A. three years ago. I’m still at home with my other little sister, Justine, and my mom, so it was great being with all of them at the same time for the holidays.

You recently reached a YouTube milestone: 500,000 subscribers. How do you feel about reaching that number?

It’s pretty rad, especially since I feel like I haven’t been as active on YouTube as I should’ve been in 2013. I’m glad that people are still using the subscribe feature, especially since it’s a bit more crowded on the YouTube homepage nowadays.

How important do you think subscriber numbers really are for creators on YouTube?

I think anytime you’re building any kind of fan base on any platform, it’s always going to be really important for you. Especially for shows, or jobs, where they wanna know more about your following. It’s cool to be able to say you have this many subscribers, or this x number of views. It’s all because of your craft and your artistry, and viral buzz of course, so why not be proud of it? I’m definitely looking to hit 600K by next year, if not more. God willing.

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