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CMU@TGE Previews: The emerging YouTube industry

By | Published on Tuesday 26 April 2016


We are now less than a month away from this year’s edition of new music festival The Great Escape which, once again, will feature the CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference at the heart of its convention programme. Each day in the CMU Daily, CMU Business Editor Chris Cooke is currently previewing the sessions we will present this year, initially looking at the line-up to the full-day strand ‘What if YouTube actually is the future?’

We all know why YouTube has been ever present in the music business news this last year, but there’s another fascinating story in relation to Google’s video platform, and that’s the emergence of a brand new entertainment industry around the talent that has successfully built on audience via a YouTube channel.

When internet usage first went mainstream in the late 1990s, a buzzword used to describe anything published online was ‘new media’. But there wasn’t really that much ‘new’ about it, in that media on the internet were really just online versions of newspapers and magazines or, subsequently, online versions of TV or radio. New titles came to market because of digital, but attempts to create a third media industry (beyond ‘the press’ and ‘broadcast’) basically failed.

However, in more recent years, as the YouTuber phenomenon has gained pace, it seems that we are seeing the emergence of a new kind of media or entertainment industry. No one can quite agree on what to call it yet – social talent, digital talent, digital native talent – but we are starting to see an increasing number of people and companies specialising in working with individuals whose primary output is their YouTube channel.

This industry is an interesting mash-up of the TV and the music sectors. TV because the core product is video, but music because the individual rather than the format is the brand, which is something the music industry has always specialised in. This is possibly why a number of people with a music industry background are now operating in this space, even when the talent isn’t making music.

It’s this new entertainment industry which we will put the spotlight on in the latter sessions of our ‘What if YouTube actually is the future?’ strand at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape. Stuart Dredge from Music Ally and The Guardian will talk to two very different artists who have built their fanbases through YouTube – Hannah Trigwell and Noodlerella – alongside their respective management teams, Bob James of Intune Addicts and Mark Walker and James Hancock of Free Focus.

Brittney Bean from Tracks2 will then lead a discussion with a number of executives known for their work in music who are now also working with YouTube talent. Lawyers Cliff Fluet from Lewis Silkin and Tahir Basheer from Sheridans will provide a legal perspective, while Mark Walker from Kilimanjaro and Free Focus, Conrad Withey from Instrumental and Alex Bewley from WME Entertainment will all discuss their recent adventures in the world of the YouTuber. Because maybe – just maybe – this actually is the future.

The YouTube strand at CMU Insights @ The Great Escape takes place on Thursday 19 May. ‘Meet the YouTubers’ kicks off at 3.15pm, followed by ‘The emerging YouTube industry’ at 4pm. Click here for an outline of the full YouTube and video strand.

TGE delegates get access to all of CMU Insights @ The Great Escape and all the other festivities that take place over the three days of the festival – passes are £230 and available here. This year tickets are also available for just the convention side of the proceedings for £100 and those can be bought here.