The media that’s bigger than telly

Dan and Phil initially came onto my radar when they first took-over and hosted the short-lived Sunday evening request show on BBC Radio 1 a few years ago. I gathered they were ‘Vloggers’ and at their very young ages had become ‘Youtube Millionaires’. Google’s Youtube has a profit sharing scheme for those who get lots of viewers and allow adverts to run before their content or as banners on the bottom of their content. Or both.

Profit sharing is huge, especially for those who tend to be ‘first in’ with their unique style of ‘art’ or ‘entertainment’, and then grow a community of followers and regular viewers. Indeed, many of the ‘early adopters’ established themselves and quickly made the art of making videos a full time extremely very well paid job. It’s much harder these days to get a slice of the Youtube action, compared to how it was for those early pioneers, but Dan and Phil have made the very big time.

danandphilSo, to my point.  Dan Howell and Phil Lester are not really on any conventional broadcast media, just Youtube. And yet, it seems, they sold out the 2,500ish seater Liverpool Empire Theatre as part of a UK tour promoting a book.

A book?

That’s an interesting and radical departure from the world of instant and electronic publishing, surely?

And a ‘sell-out’. That’s more than most ex-X Factor singers manage at the Liverpool Empire. Very interesting.

Apparently, by the way, after paying a bit extra for their tickets, fans could queue up before the show and get shuffled into a room for 20 seconds in order to get a hug, a selfie, and part of their body signed.

On Youtube, Dan and Phil have about 5 million personal followers each, more for their joint channels, and most of their videos end up being watched 2 or 3 million times per video, some a heck of a lot more. Heck, that’s loads more viewers than a lot of shows broadcast on TV. And a lot more personal revenue.

I didn’t know (or care) that they were in Liverpool, until late at night when I passed (or tried to pass) a crowd of about 50 youngsters, a lot with drawn on whiskers (naturally), hanging around the Stage Door area of the Liverpool Empire. It was about midnight, long after the show would have finished at say 9:30pm – 10:00pm. Somebody was locking up and pulling down a shutter whilst trying to convince the crowd that the place was now completely empty, the lights were off, he was going home, and definitely Dan and Phil had left the building within seconds of leaving the stage hours earlier, honest.

As if with one voice the waiting crowd sung a chorus of “You’re lying, you’re lying, you’re lying”, obviously convinced that their heroes were still inside waiting for them to leave so that they could then sneak out unharassed. The gentleman locking the shutters down was just a decoy, they told him, as, looking bemused and shrugging his shoulders, he strolled off to a car that was waiting for him.

Now, I know from my own experiences of live performances that the ‘talent’ normally gets whisked away as soon as they leave the stage, getting out of the building before the final phrases of the music have actually played. It’s off to the after-party as quickly as possible, leaving all the fans behind. They certainly never hang around in the very buildings where performances have taken place. And there’s never a need to shut a venue in order to pretend they’ve all gone. But, the fans of Dan and Phil obviously couldn’t comprehend this.

For my part, I couldn’t comprehend, but wanted to bottle, the devotion that the fans the YouTube vloggers seemed to have. This is a dedication and enthusiasm that probably hasn’t been seen in Liverpool since the Beatles. And, as with the Beatlemania back in its day, Dan and Phil mania (they are currently on a sell-out tour of America) is incomprehensible to anybody over the age of 23.