The first day of a convention is traditionally its slowest. If this is what VidCon calls “slow,” we’re in for a crazy ride.
Fans, members of the YouTube community, and industry insiders all converged on Anaheim, Calif., yesterday for the first day of VidCon, the annual YouTube conference that’s ballooned over the last five years to the tune of 17,000 attendees.
The first day of the conference saw an exciting mix of industry news, celebrity/fan interactions, and surprises from YouTube favorites. One recurring theme that emerged was that of the need to build community even while the growth of YouTube inevitably places an emphasis on dollars over inspiration. It’s a theme prized by Vlogbrothers and VidCon cofounders John and Hank Green.
Here are the highlights.
1) Sharing is caring
“Shoutout to YouTube for sharing the money,” Hank Green said this morning in his keynote, which looked at the growth of YouTube culture. “How much money does Twitter take? All of it.” Green went on to praise YouTube for helping to fund channels and community growth.
2) DreamWorks dream team
In an early morning fireside chat, Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg sat down with VidCon cofounder Hank Green to discuss the state of YouTube and the success of DreamWorks’ 2013 acquisition of the YouTube channel AwesomenessTV. Katzenberg called Awesomeness, a sketch comedy group for kids and teens, “our biggest … and our most exciting bet on the platform.”
— Nick Scarpino (@Nick_Scarpino) June 26, 2014
3) Epic Lip Sync Battles of history
NBC’s Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon announced a special fan challenge to compete to be on a montage for Fallon’s popular Lip Sync Battles. The NBC VidCon booth features an interactive space where fans can take their best shot at lip syncing one of five songs selected by Fallon, including Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” best remembered as the one Emma Stone completely dominated on the show in April.
4) Fullscreen digs deep
George Strompolos, the CEO of management company Fullscreen, spoke at the afternoon keynote. He announced that Fullscreen, which represents a wide variety of YouTube entertainers including the Fine Brothers and Shane Dawson, would be investing up to $10 million in original YouTube programming to locate and cultivate the stars of tomorrow.
5) Go Green
A keynote speech by John Green focused on the importance of building community on YouTube. “The most interesting stuff we’ve done have always been community projects. Project For Awesome has always been our least-popular videos.”
Green also talked about The Art Assignment, the project his wife Sarah Green hosts with PBS Digital Media. Green spoke of the importance of allowing projects like The Art Assignment and creators like famed PBS artist Bob Ross to flourish in order to engage audiences with contemporary access to art. “They’re good for the community even if they lose money,” he said about such projects. “The [community] will want to be part of your journey… the economic incentive of YouTube runs completely counter to building community.”
If all that wasn’t enough to catch your attention, there were also big announcements from Grace Helbig, Jenna Marbles, and Troye Sivan. We can’t wait to see what Friday and Saturday will bring. You can watch the livestream from the conference main stage here.
Photo courtesy of NBC