Hollywood Sign

Hollywood: Not the only route to fame & fortune as online platforms expand  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Creative careers are often forged in the California sun, but not all great creators need to hot foot it to Hollywood to find fame and fortune.

For some, they might not even need to leave the house.

A new generation of creative talent is finding that all they need is an Internet connection and an open mind to reach the millions of fans waiting to be found on YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and any number of emerging media sites.

And as this New York Times spotlight explains, some are creating six figure incomes from their seven figure followings.


Technology Finds Talent

The term “internet famous” is often used as a pejorative, but increasingly it’s a highly desirable status to attain.

Traditional routes to creative fame have been squeezed by technology – think shrinking music revenues reducing investment in new artists, or piracy limiting opportunities for new filmmakers – but at the same time these new media platforms are providing exciting new opportunities.

Michelle Phan and Felicia Day

Michelle Phan and Felicia Day (Photo credit: Digitas Photos)

YouTube is perhaps the most established of all, with the likes of Perez Hilton blazing a trail for a new kind of celebrity that Google itself is now championing via its vast video and display advertising network. After significant ad campaigns during April and May, both Michelle Phan and Shane Dawson have pushed well past the 5 million fan milestone and are becoming

Elsewhere there are signs that this online influence can be achieved even without extensive advertising, as photographers find a captive audience (and income) on Instagram and videographers test their creative brevity in the six seconds afforded them by short-form video site Vine. The exciting element for these independent artists is the freedom to carve out creative careers in any direction that they choose, so long as it pulls in the attention that brings studios, labels, and advertisers to their door.

Even established names have been able to rekindle careers thanks to the independent streak that tehnology affords.  Comedians, for example, are finding that podcasts are an excellent way to reach audiences who wouldn’t typically sit through a full stand-up set. Marc Maron’s “WTF” is just one popular example of this, with the comic’s new-found audience paving the way to festival appearances, speaking engagements, and his own TV series with IFC.

And returning to YouTube for a second, the site now has so much creative content to view that a show dedicated purely to unearthing the best and brightest, “YouTube Nation,” had to be created to build a better filter. Creators who break through the noise can expect those all-important eyeballs, with the resulting influence and income that a dedicated following can bring.


Online Influence Now Means Income

As the original NYT article points out, advertisers are one of the main sources of income for these digitally savvy creators and entertainers.

Many marketers are just as perplexed by the seemingly limitless online routes to target audiences as the general public. With the options in front of them to either continue pouring big bucks into smaller returns via traditional channels or stumble into the daunting world of producing online content for themselves, plenty of businesses and ad agencies are choosing the middle road: find an existing audience that hits their demographic and pay them for access.

This means inviting influencers to movie screenings, product trials, beta testing, and a variety of other integrated marketing tactics that slip somewhere into the ‘native advertising’ trend. While these new influencers must be wary of the “selling out” label and consciously respect the integrity of the audience they’ve so carefully developed, when done well the advertising revenue alone can be enough to fund a full year’s artistic endeavors.

Combined with the opportunity to showcase their talent online and have established media companies come a calling, the promise of technology to drive creative careers still further is an exciting one for all up and coming talent.

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