Primer: Irish YouTube Superstars

YouTube Stars DublinGlobe.com

YouTube is big business. But then you probably knew that already.

The site currently has one billion users, 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and it is estimated to have brought in €4 billion last year. It’s the world’s leading music discovery platform, and 1 billion minutes were spent watching its top ten ads in 2014 alone. Elsewhere, they’re about to get into the movie business.

It’s not surprising, then, that Irish YouTubers are getting in on the act. Though we’ve yet to produce stars with makeup lines and book deals like Michelle Phan, Alfie Deyes (PointlessBlog) and Zoe Sugg (Zoella) in the US and UK, a small number of Irish YouTubers currently command a global following. There’s even an Irish YouTubers Facebook group, and events like the Picnic in the Park and CraicCon, where superfans can meet their idols.

In February this year, YouTube hosted a Creator’s Day event in Dublin recognising Irish talent. Megastars Jacksepticeye, DaithiDeNogla, Melaniie/ Melanie Murphy discussed how they have turned making videos into full-time careers, while the likes of AdannaDavid, Clisare, JamesMitchellTV, Sean Connolly and Cian Ducrot shared their experiences building a following to an audience of 340 Irish vloggers.

One look at analytics site SocialBlade’s list of the top ten YouTubers in Ireland confirms the platform’s unpredictability, along with its tendency towards favouring obscure fandoms. Hozier, our biggest international music star, sits side by side on the list with XDKamilaxDlol, a Teen Titans anime fan account, and Arianna12334, a woman who claims to be “weirder than darth vader wearing a skirt, on a unicycle, playing the bagpipes”. We’ll take her word for it.

Where we really shine, however, is when it come to creating original content – channels like MADABOUTLEGO where everybody’s favourite childhood toy becomes a medium for painstakingly crafted animations. LEGO CITY FIRE, a video featuring real fire, melting bricks, and a cameo from Darth Maul has garnered over 11,419,880 views. YouTube’s growing market for child-friendly videos is also in evidence: an account called thechildhoodlife also appears in SocialBlade’s top ten, posting reviews of toys made by a mother and her two children (their Frozen Movie Story Set review has a massive 108,000+ views).

And then of course there’s Irish comedy. It’s interesting how in a short amount of time YouTube has established its own comedy tropes, memes and formats, a distinct style wholly detached from traditional stand-up or sketch comedy. One of the biggest names in Irish YouTube comedy is Riyadh K, whose “slightly delusional” viral videos have attracted 43,000+ subscribers (watch him letting his mom read his Grindr messages here and trolling the Westboro Baptist Church here). Sean Burke, aka Bonkers 101, has earned a following of 38,000 thanks to his admirably goofy Snape impression, and Sean Connolly (aka TheSonicScrew) creates hilarious ‘dramatic readings’ of well-known books and song lyrics. Facts, meanwhile, have cornered the market in Irish memes including ‘Irish People Try Stereotypical Irish Food’ and the Crisp Sandwich Taste Test, earning them a massive 76,799+ subscribers.

The list might seem a bit male-dominated, but there are plenty young Irish women finding international fame. Clare Cullen aka Clisare made it big with her ‘Shite Irish Girls Say’ video in 2012 (still a classic) and has become a YouTube mainstay, adding a second daily vlog channel into the mix. Meanwhile, Sinead Cady is one of Irish YouTube’s biggest stars with her makeup and beauty channel The Makeup Chair, along with Siobhan McDonnell (Letz Makeup) and Melaniie (Melanie Murphy), a member of Canadian video network BBTV whose tutorials and vlogs bring in 1 million views per month.

Makeup and haul videos are one of YouTube’s fastest-growing and most commercially viable areas, but they’re beaten in figures, in terms of Irish creators at least, by gaming accounts. The numbers commanded by these figures, who essentially play games and talk about it for a living, is mind-blowing: DaithiDeNogla’s prolific output, mostly “let’s play’s” which sound like Chris O’Dowd narrating your favourite videogame, has earned him 2,400,372+ subscribers, and he recently moved to America. Meanwhile LittleLizardGames posts family-friendly Minecraft mods and commentaries to an audience of 1,268,152 subscribers, a channel created by twin brothers Ryan and Scott Fitzimons out of Ashbourne, Co Meath.

But most famous of all is Seán McLoughlin aka jacksepticeye, reigning king of Irish YouTube with 4,207,200+ subscribers and over 1 billion collective views. McLoughlin’s fans are called ‘bosses’, and his videos take on a mixture of big budget games (The Sims 4 got its own series) and smaller, more unusual ones (here’s ten videos of him getting to grips with carbohydrate noir I Am Bread). SocialBlade estimate his earnings as up to €8.2 million per year. Oh and he opens every video with the catchphrase “Top of the morning to ye, laddies” – whoever said that Irishness doesn’t sell?

MORE: ‘Video is the internet’: meet the young Irish YouTubers (Irish Times)

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