With over 60 million clips being viewed and 65,000 videos being uploaded daily, YouTube is unquestionably to date the most popular video sharing website on the internet. Founded by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim in 2005, YouTube is a site where users can upload, view and share videos amongst each other. From movies, television shows, to user-generated videos like vlogs and tutorials, YouTube provides different types of videos for users.

Left to right: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim

Left to right: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim

With individuals having the power to produce and upload nearly anything on YouTube, it gives them an opportunity for self-promotion. Although some individuals are not professional video makers, they still possess the opportunity for success by making home videos. With the combination of digital distribution, individuals have a chance to be discovered and gain legitimate success and media fame.

YouTube has countless numbers of cover songs where in some cases some of the videos become popular and viral. A well-known example of this would be the case of Justin Bieber, where Usher discovered him when he posted videos of him singing and playing the guitar. With such well known cases of amateurs being discovered via YouTube, there is an attached myth embedded within YouTube; You Tube can and will turn an individual successful. YouTube becomes a virtual place of self-promotion where some individuals become famous for doing something really well in this case in particular, singing. Bieber’s case illustrates how the DIY myth can be transformed into a celebrity one where the rise of his Internet fame ultimately leads him to be discovered by big labels.

YouTube is also an outlet for non-professionals, non-wealthy, and non-famous to distribute their own media content to the world. YouTube has open up new opportunities for regular individuals to take their content and distribute it to a much wider audience, which they would have not been able to do without the website. YouTube’s slogan “Broadcast Yourself” is an idea designed to allow the public to engage in an activity, broadcasting. Homemade videos uploaded on YouTube have opportunities to gain media attention. Andy Samberg at the time a new cast of Saturday Night Live, along with Jorma Taccone, Nada Kiva Schanffer caught the attention of the entertainment industry after uploading their comedy sketches (OC parodies and Lazy Sunday) on Channel 101, another video sharing website. Eventually, Fox executives noticed them and commissioned a pilot for a sketch of comedy series called “Awesome Town”. Although this was not picked up, the recognition of their videos lead them to successful careers scoring them writing jobs at MTV which eventually lead them to work for SNL.


Image: SNL

Having a special or unique talent is not a necessary quality in order to be discovered on YouTube. Shay Butler, a well-known YouTuber with nearly 1 million subscribers on his main channel ShayCarl is highly successful. Prior to YouTube, Butler did not have experience with editing videos or blogging, but overtime he gained popularity through his comedy sketches and daily vlogging. Currently, Butler has multiple channels each serving a different purpose. His channel called ShayTards is solely on vlogging the life of him and his family, while his channel ShayLoss is a channel dedicated to living a healthy style. YouTube gave Butler and his family opportunities that they would have never been able to experience if they were not able to upload their videos. He is also a co-founder of Maker Studios, a multi-channel network which was later bought by Walt Disney for $500 Million. Through paid sponsorships and YouTube, Butler has gone from rag to riches.

The introduction of YouTube has largely shaped the way videos are being shared and used by its users. The power that YouTube gives to users enables professionals and amateurs a chance to become successful through video sharing. The site has become a platform of opportunities, where every individual has a chance to “broadcast,” and promote themselves to the world. YouTube is not simply a video sharing site but a space of multitudes of opportunities for individuals.

About The Author

June Li
Social Media Specialist

York University graduate, majoring in Communication Studies and Anthropology. Moved from Hong Kong to Toronto as a young child. Consumed by social media and real estate. Loves festivals, food and Netflix. Wanderlust at heart.

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