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In the online medium, the audience is the king, say digital stars

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MUMBAI: Over the past few years, the media landscape has taken a dramatic shift. It is a whole new virtual world and the rise of ‘YouTube generation’ has enabled talents to gain large followings online. From music to comedy, there are compelling opportunities for people to show their skills on the world wide web. The future of story-telling is evolving and the online sphere has proven to be a great platform for talents to find their own voices. So, what is it about crafting content online that attracts numerous talents?



“It is an opportunity for us to work with the creative freedom and aesthetics that mainstream media doesn't allow,” say the talents of the popular YouTube channel, Enna Da Rascals.



Explaining their reasons to take on the virtual world, the group elaborates, “We started off as a theatre company and all of us work in films. It felt like a logical extension to move towards online content.” The channel, which has over 27,000 subscribers and 1,000,000 views on YouTube, includes names such as Pooja Devariya, Venkatesh Harinathan, Rajiv Rajaram and Yohan Chacko.

The creators of another popular channel, SnG Comedy, boasting over 80,000 YouTube subscribers and 5,000,000 views tell us a comparable story. “With the kind of comedy we do, there were only two ways to get ourselves out there - stage and YouTube. The stage, while truly gratifying, does not have the reach and the ability that YouTube has.”

More and more people are relying on their smartphones and tablets to watch content online. Whether it is a tip on how to look good or how to cook a dish, chances are that we would go online for instant solutions.  “People like to be spoon fed. They are lazy to answer their own questions,” says make-up artist and hair stylist Elton Fernandez, who has over 8000 subscribers and 300,000 views on his YouTube channel.  According to Fernandez, the audience today wants specific content and answers to their precise requests.  



This can be deemed true for the current generation which particularly has a short attention span and is constantly looking for diverse entertainment. According to Enna Da Rascals, people are inherently opinionated and content which polarize people and make them think about their perspectives do well.  



SnG Comedy, comprising Karan Talwar of BollywoodGandu, Varun Thakur, Aadar Malik, Brij Bhakta, Neville Shah and Kautuk Srivastava, believes that the audience today wants real and original content.  “There are no fixed formulas. It all depends on your originality and how the audience can relate with your content,” they say.



So, how do these talents create good content online?



“With us, there is no strategy really. We do stuff that we like. We prefer to get our humour and ourselves out there,” answers SnG comedy.



Make-up artiste and hair stylist Mrinalinee Mukherjee who has recently started a YouTube channel, feels that it is vital to be true to one’s art and share the expertise of a subject to the best of their ability. She says, “Making good videos, teaching new things and reaching out to them are some ways to keep the audience interested.”



Fernandez tries to keep his content simple and does things that are actually achievable in real life. “The viewers should not feel that what I am doing is rocket science. It should not be intimidating for them to try,” he adds.



However, according to Enna Da Rascals, there is a downside to having creative freedom online. The content created is up and there for everyone to judge. “With a film or a play, you can market or sell it to a specific audience. Here, the content is for everyone to see. Finally, you realize in this medium, the audience is king. You can't rig the press, the counts or juries. What you see is what you are,” they say.



Budget is also a common concern for all these talented online celebrities. There is a cost attached to making videos with no fixed returns. So, do they then compromise on the quality of their content?

Enna Da Rascals feels that this is where engagement with brands come in handy. “Sometimes brands can help you create videos with a much larger design.  If we're feeling ambitious and the content is something the audiences may enjoy, we'll need the support of a brand to make it happen.”



With the advent of multi-channel networks, talents are also being able to find support financially. SnG comedy which comes under Culture Machine Digital Video Entertainment Company says, “Culture Machine has been pivotal. They're really the money. They are the ones who selflessly invested actual capital to help us grow as a channel. They believed in our style and brand of comedy. They've pulled all stops to help and assist us.”



Adding to that, Enna Da Rascals states, “It's nice to know that someone has your back looking at the monetary side of things. Also, they provide insights on which videos have the potential to do well.”



 

Despite of all these, the perks of being a digital star are endless. A digital footprint contributes in getting live gigs and recognition. For SnG Comedy, it has helped them in the sales of their stage shows. Having a channel online has added to their brand equity when they are pitching for a live act.  “People know us,” they say.



For Fernandez, he feels it is nice to be recognised by a specific target audience and creating content online is a long term business for him.

Such is the case with Enna Da Rascals who believes that they have been successful in attracting the attention of various brands. According to them, the online world is definitely preferred amongst the young tech savvy consumers. “Don't be surprised if you find yourself choosing the online industry over the main industry,” they conclude.

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