I just spent the past weekend at my very first VidCon; a convention for Online Video, specifically YouTube. It was my first and I was a featured Creator. You can check out my blogs for that day here (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). I came across this video of a Youtuber named Christelyn Karazin where she laments how her experience was as a Youtuber who didn’t have an All Access Pass. For those of you who are unfamiliar with recent Youtube News, Christina Grimmie was recently killed by a rabid fan after a performance. Hank Green sent out an email to all of the featured creators saying that security would be increased and that really wasn’t an exaggeration. The day I checked in, I went through so many back entrances and possibly a floor in between floors to get to the area where I got my badge and all of my materials for the convention. I felt like a damn spy. You got two things, an All access blue and yellow pass and a card key for your room. You had to show both in order to get into the Hilton and to gain access to the VIP rooms. Often you had to show it three times before getting to your actual destination.
Here is Christelyn Karazin’s response to this:
Unfortunately, for some people who attended Vidcon with a creator pass, they felt like this extra security created distance between them and solidified a “have and have nots” atmosphere and made them feel less important and significant than featured creators. I’m perhaps biased as I was one, but I wanted to give my perspective as someone who was behind the curtains at those events who had access to those things. Here was my response to this video:
I’m going to have a slightly different perspective on this as someone who was a featured creator who had full access so please try not to take this too poorly as I want to be brutally honest and hopefully constructive:
Vid Con is a convention for Online Video and it has a few sides to it. It is predominantly a convention for young, mostly teenage viewers who are the leading demographic of YT content consumption. That’s why the floor of Vid Con felt childish and had a lot of games and jumping rooms and sponsors that catered to youthful audiences. With that in mind, the content creators that were invited had content that catered to those audiences. My content is consumed mostly by women between the ages of 18 and 24. While walking the floor, the vast majority of the people who ran up to me were very young girls or very young gay men. Your content is not really catered to that audience and that means a few things, but most importantly that brands are not necessarily going to view you as viable.
The reality is that Vid Con is a place for fun for children, but business for adults. I went to all the parties and most of VIP events/rooms. You know what the whole point was? Business. Plain and simple. Yes, they were feeding us drinks and throwing free things at us, but ultimately it was about us being in that room, promoting their brands and furthermore exchanging business cards with other creators, websites, and brands for future business endeavors. My question to you is: Once you got into those rooms, what would you do? Your content focuses mostly on interracial dating commentary. You aren’t someone who, from what I can tell, has an interest in collaboration, working with brands and ultimately would be interested in the benefits that really come from being behind that curtain. You create niche content that can be potentially polarizing and doesn’t trend or lean towards mainstream. I identify with that because I do for the most part as well, but I try to make my content fairly open ended. I really want you to mediate on what you’d DO after you got back there because I think that would honestly help put things into perspective for you.
Something else you need to realize is that Security was bumped up this year because weeks earlier Christina Grimmie was shot and killed by a rabid and obsessed fan. I have seen all sorts of scandalous and frankly scary things happening while people were trying to get past these lines. People were making fake passes and things and you just never know how things are going to go down. A lot of the creators I shared a room with were actually quite famous and would, undoubtedly be mobbed while at this convention. I understand why you’d think that these new security protocols would create a dynamic of the haves and have nots, but I’m personally pretty thankful that they made a point of protecting creators from being attacked.
Now to the question of whether or not VidCon is a waste of money? I tend to partially agree. Vidcon is worth it for people who are massive fans of Youtube Content Creators. It’s worth it for people working within the industry who want to connect with people in the industry and schmooze with creators who can help their jobs. There is, in my view, essentially a Child’s experience at VidCon and an Adult/Creator/Professional side to Vid Con. Vid Con would be a waste of money to a creator who is looking to schmooze with larger creators that are respected within the Youtube Ecosystem. It wouldn’t be a waste of money to a creator who is eager to meet other creators who wants to be in an environment where they want to collaborate, socialize and network with OTHER creators who don’t also have all access passes.
If you went expecting VIP treatment, you’re going to be disappointed. That isn’t where you are YET, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll never be there. Last year at Vidcon I was filming at the in the Hilton. I had a smallish channel and while some people knew who I was, I wasn’t invited to speak at Vidcon. This year the CEO of Youtube included me in her keynote and I had 4 panels as a featured creator. I wouldn’t have paid for my ticket to go to Vid Con for the one open party they had for creators as I am not a huge Youtube fan or consumer. To me, that would certainly be a waste of money. But if i adored youtubers and was passionate about the idea of collaborating with other people and was really excited about being in an environment where almost everyone had a similar interest, it would make sense. It doesn’t sound like you’re the latter and that’s perhaps why you didn’t have a good time.
Take this how you will, but this video, while you’re smiling etc, is very hard to watch because you are an adult who is whining and complaining about not being able to sit at the cool kids table. Not that I don’t objectively understand why you feel that way, but at the same time, you need to understand that you receive what you put out into the universe. If you view yourself as a failure, as someone who isn’t “cool” enough to be at the cool kids table or someone who doesn’t really belong, that is how they will treat you. What you also need to acknowledge is that THIS is the nature of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. It’s all about who you know and what you could potentially do for them. I would not have been at Vid Con or many many events if it wasn’t for You tubers larger and more successful than me shouting out my name, putting me into a pile of names and vouching for me. I have a list of names from people I’ve met, whose work I respect that I will be throwing into the pot in hopes they will be able to get in next year. What you perceive as “cliques” are people who have connected, associated and supported each other to the point where they uplift and respect each other and have made each other stronger. I met SO many people for the first time at Vid Con that I have respected for years that respected me and now we’re working on some great things together.
You have to ask yourself if this particular Youtube path is one you want to embark on. There are people who are very similar to you and are much larger and more popular that do not get invited to Vid Con and wouldn’t go if they were because they have nothing to gain from being in, what is essentially, a convention for mainstream Youtube. So you have to ask yourself: is mainstreaming something you’re interested in or are you content with the type of niche content that you’re putting out right now. I think you know the path that’s right for you. I just wanted to give you my perspective as someone who was back there and worked it.
If I’m being honest, I don’t think that I could or would attend Vid Con if I weren’t featured, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in the convention for a certain type of creator. I identify a lot with Christelyn Karazin, despite disagreeing with a lot of her content, because we both create relatively niche content and I know how it feels to not feel like you’re included in the inner circle. I don’t think I would have been ready for VidCon’s more business aspect a year ago, but I certainly am now. If I’m invited again next year, I’ll be even more prepared.
I posted this in case anyone else felt like Christelyn and wanted some perspective. Let me know if this was helpful or not!