When YouTube first became popular it was known as a site that you could go and find “America’s Funniest Home Videos” style video clips that you could laugh at with your friends and family. As time has progressed YouTube has now become a place filled with videos that have been professionally produced and includes “YouTube Celebrities” and real celebrities whose videos attract as many, if not more, views than the popular viral videos. The celebrity status of many people on YouTube, and the aspirations of many people to reach that status, has resulted in many people using the site to commodify themselves. The use of daily vlogs (videos that are used to document ones everyday life) by popular YouTubers or by celebrities is one of the best ways to market yourself on YouTube. The possibilities of the daily vlog can especially be seen when it comes to music artists. While many famous music artists are able to produce reality television shows to commodify their lives in order to promote and sell a new cd, many unsigned and/or upcoming artists use YouTube to create a following of loyal and devoted fans. When thinking about how one can enterprise on fandom I will use two related artists that I have followed for quite a bit of time through YouTube. Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller are related in the fact that each artist started performing hip hop music with the independent label Rostrum Records. They each record their lives through vlogs that span from the start of their careers to their recent successes. Also, both Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller have created their own fandoms. The Wiz Khalifa fandom is known as Taylor Gang while the Mac Miller fandom goes as Most Dope. It is through the creation of these fandoms that fans feel a sense of closeness to the artists that they enjoy. In conjunction with vlogging, social networking sites and live chats give fans a chance to learn many of the intimate details of the daily lives of their favorite artists as well as getting the chance to communicate with them. This helps sell music and merchandise because the false sense of intimacy that is established between fan and artist encourages fans to support the artist in any way possible.
This commodofication of the lives of people, whether they are artists or everyday people, is one of the most popular ways that YouTuber’s build lucrative businesses. The popularity of one’s videos on YouTube can lead to becoming a YouTube partner so that you can share in the profit of running advertisements on your videos. When thinking about this from a Marxist perspective it may seem that the idea of enterprising on the lives of people is merely an evil of capitalism, I feel that there are quite a few good things that can come out of this process. One example is the YouTube group created by the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. John Green, a popular young adult author, and his brother Hank Green have used their popularity not only to sell merchandise and build the business of Vlogbrothers, but they have also used their popularity to create a positive community. Their community, known as Nerdfighteria in which the fans are known as Nerdfighters, is a place in which an interest in literacy and a concern for the rights of people and the environment flourishes. Although commodification can be said to create an alienated worker, within the YouTube community the worker (the person producing the videos) is fused with the work (the vlogs) as the work is a representation of the producer primarily for the producer and then the fans. Fandoms not only engage in consumerism but there is an atmosphere of contribution that can be used to create positive change within society.