Last Friday the NMR team set up shop at the luxurious Meadowlands Hilton in Secaucus, New Jersey for Playlist Live Business Day. There’s no main stage, no meet up passes, and no performances, but Business Day has its own particular charm. The vibe is more laid back than your average YouTube convention, and with no fan mobs roaming the halls you can catch some of the biggest names on YouTube casually sipping a Starbucks in the hotel lobby.
What it lacks in glamor and pizzazz it makes up for in value. Business day allows professional YouTube creators, industry professionals, and media types to mingle, network, and trade tips on the craft of online video making. Playlist stacked this year’s panels with some of the sharpest creators and industry pros in the business to share some insight how to get big and stay big on YouTube and beyond. Obviously the best of these panels was hosted by our very own CEO Rory Haines who grilled top creators and experts on their YouTube analytics and audience growth secrets. That panel was pretty much all you need but we soaked up some wisdom from the others just in case. Here’s our breakdown of everything we learned from Playlist Live’s Business Day Panels and some words to live by from the sharpest minds in YouTube.
Panel: Making Your Channel Into a Business Presented by Semaphore Financial
Moderator: Michael Bienstock, CEO of Semaphore Financial
Panelists: YouTube creators Olga Kay, Hannah Hart, and Michael Buckley
What We Learned: There’s nothing like hearing some of the smartest and hardest working creators on how they turned their channels into full-fledged business empires. Michael Buckley, Olga Kay, and Hannah Hart embody three excellent and equally diverse paths to YouTube success. Our major takeaway from this panel was that YouTube in 2014 is all about forging your own path and seizing opportunities. Olga Kay demonstrated the kind of hustle it takes to succeed beautifully by executing a quick brand deal with Quest Chips DURING THE PANEL. Both Hannah and Michael stressed the importance of growing your career and your brand beyond the confines of YouTube.
Words To Live By:
“Don’t build your mansion in someone else’s back yard.” – Hannah Hart reminding creators to find ways to own their audience and not depend solely on YouTube’s good graces.
“Stay in your lane. Love your lane. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.” – Michael Buckley stressing the importance of building a community within your audience with quality content rather than paying too much attention to what other creators are doing.
“Collaborate with people on your level and grow together. Trust your talent and your content.” – Olga Kay encouraging creators not to chase big name collabs but to find other creators they click with and create something great together.
Panel: Understanding Your Audience & Developing Content Strategy
Moderator: Rory Haines, CEO of New Media Rockstars, all around swell guy, very handsome and cool
Panelists: Meghan Camarena, creator of Strawburry17, Mark Douglas, Todd Womack creators of The Key of Awesome at Barely Political. Tim Schmoyer Audience Development Consultant, Matt Gielen, Head of Programming and Audience Development at Frederator
What We Learned: Building and retaining an audience is a challenge, but often serving an established audience can be just as tough. While analytics can serve as a guide for the kind of content your audience best enjoys, they can also stifle creativity. Every creator on the panel warned against letting your channel be guided by views and statistics alone. Both Meghan Camarena of Strawburry17 and Mark Douglass and Todd Womack of Key of Awesome stressed that offbeat videos have often surprised them with positive responses from fans, and creativity should always be king. Mark Gielen of Frederator and Cartoon Hangover noted that while timely parodies culled from news and pop culture can provide a temporary bump, it’s timeless ever-green content that creates real value by continuing to amass views over time.
Words To Live By:
“Sometimes it’s the idea you least expect that hits the biggest and you just have to go with it.” – Todd Womack of The Key of Awesome.
A New Wave of Talent: Working With The Next Generation
Moderator: Al Roker
Panelists: Andrew Graham, Senior Talent Manager at Big Frame; Sarah Weichel, Talent and Business Manager; Jacob Scwirtz, Chif Social Media Officer at Endemol; Jason Mante, Head of Culture at Vine; Jordan Worona, Head of Talent at Fullscreen; Lisa Filipelli, VP of Talent at Big Frame.
What We Learned: First and foremost we learned that Al Roker is not a man who silences his phone, even when he’s moderating a panel on the next generation of new media talent. Second we learned that it doesn’t matter because these talent pros were intent on making their point no matter what the distraction. That point was that for most digital talent, the promise of opportunities in traditional media is not that alluring and might even be damaging. Several panelists agreed that avoiding bad opportunities was just as important as finding good ones for their clients.
While brand deals can be a good way to jump start your career in the early stages Andrew Graham of Big Frame noted that they aren’t necessarily the be all and end all that some imagine. Panelists also got fired up over the Los Angeles question. Namely, does talent need to make its way to LA to take their career to the next level. While the panel agreed that it’s not necessary, they also noted that the opportunity to collaborate with a larger community of creators was important, as was the weather, a point which pleased America’s weatherman.
Words To Live By:
“YouTubers will not become traditional celebrities…what they will be doesn’t exist yet.” – Sarah Weichel
“Brand deals can help you get your career started once you reach a certain point, but they’re not the end goal.” – Andrew Graham
“A recent study showed that most kids today don’t even know what the phrase ‘selling out’ means. They think it means selling out a concert or a tour.” – Lisa Filipelli
The Multi-Channel Panel: What Can An MCN Do For You?
Moderated by: Josh Cohen, Co-Founder of Tubefilter & The Streamys
Panelists: John Carle, Collective Digital Studios; Jackie Koppell, Awesomeness TV; Jacob Schwirtz, Endemol Beyond USA; Jake Krengel, Frederator; James McFadden, Collab; Jordan Worona, Fullscreen
What We Learned: Multi-Channel Networks provide an array of services to their talent including help with monetization, management, and representation. Though they’ve taken a beating in the media recently, the majority of professional YouTube content creators still belong to networks. James McFadden, the co-founder of Collab suggested that the age of traditional MCN’s may be coming to an end. Instead he stressed the importance of finding digital talent and helping them to build a presence across multiple platforms instead of building a network of channels on one platform.
Words To Live By:
“The level of service you get from your network often depends on how well you stay in contact with them.”
Unlocking Your Potential: Growth and Discovery
Moderated By: Shira Lazara, Founder of What’s Trending
Panelists: YouTube Creators Chris Thompson, Matt Santoro, Arden Rose, Stephanie and Tracy of Eleventh Gorgeous.
What We Learned: Multi-channel networks got a slightly different review in this panel. Most creators agreed that while management services were important for creators on the rise getting those services from an MCN was not necessarily ideal. Stephanie and Tracy, the duo behind lifestyle channel Eleventh Gorgeous both stressed that their negative early experience with a network had turned them off of the concept. YouTube analytics also came in for a mixed review with some creators saying they preferred not to study their numbers at all while others preferred to study the most minute details of their audience engagement for feedback on how to keep viewers engaged.
Words To Live By:
“YouTube is, first and foremost, a search engine. If you want them to find you, you have to make something that they’re searching for.” – Chris Thompson on harnessing pop culture trends to get views.
“I never look at my analytics.” – Matthew Santoro
“We are always looking at our analytics.” – Eleventh Gorgeous
“You should really look at your analytics.” – Arden Rose to Matthew Santoro.