YouTube stars reach out to fans via 'Meetups'

YouTube stars reach out to fans via 'Meetups'
French humorist Norman posing during an event called “200 YouTubers and creators which vibrate the web in France”, held in Paris.

Today's young YouTube celebrities don't only have virtual contact with their fans.

They have taken on something new: real life.

A last-minute message on Twitter, Facebook or the Internet can bring hundreds, even thousands of teenagers out to a designated venue within hours to see their "vlogging" - video blogging - idols in the flesh.

Teenager Leena waited in line in Paris last month to see France's number two YouTube comic, known as Norman.

"I feel like crying," she gushed. "I've seen every one of his videos!"

"It's going to be weird seeing him live," said 13-year-old Eugenie, who has already attended several YouTube Meetups, as the encounters are known.

"Meetups" may have started as low-key bids to boost a YouTuber's reputation, but in countries including Britain and the US, they have morphed into professionally organised, commercially-driven events showcasing these new power brokers.

France's "Generation Z" - kids born after 1995 - have quickly embraced the trend.

"Tomorrow I'll be at FNAC Saint-Lazare in Paris to sign autographs. Everyone come!" read a Facebook message from Norman, 27, whose full name is Norman Thauvaud.

He has 5.6 million subscribers and when he announces an event - even with just 24 hours notice - hundreds of fans turn up.

YouTube's own staggering statistics have helped catapult vloggers like Norman to cult status. The site has more than one billion users and 300 hours of videos are uploaded every minute, according to its press site.


Mobile devices account for half of YouTube's global views.

Yet the transition from virtual to live can be jarring.

Miss Marie Lopez, 19, who goes by the handle "Enjoy-Phoenix", toured 15 French cities last year to meet fans, mainly girls aged between 13 and 20.

She said: "I didn't quite realise how important I was for my followers," Lopez said in a sober follow-up video.

"Having 800 people running after you, like that, I was really scared.

"I make videos in my room, I am not Shakira, I have no Oscar. I didn't deserve all this attention," said Miss Lopez, who is France's number one beauty advice vlogger with 1.3 million subscribers.

Swedish video game commentator Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who goes by the handle PewDiePie, has the world's most subscribed YouTube channel at more than 34 million.

Forbes and the Wall Street Journal said last June that he took about US$4 million (S$5.4 million) in ad sales, "most of it pure profit". - AFP.

I make videos in my room, I am not Shakira, I have no Oscar. I didn't deserve all this attention

- Marie Lopez, France's number one beauty advice vlogger

This article was first published on Feb 17, 2015.
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