With the explosion of user-generated online video, there have been a few cases of individuals making the leap from the long tail to the head, and achieving some form of celebrity, or at least popularity. So perhaps it was only a matter of time before one of the big Hollywood talent agencies set up a division to find web-based superstars, and represent them in dealing with established media companies. In one sense, the move makes sense. Budding entertainers need representation if they want to achieve something greater than just being the most watched video on YouTube, and actually get major media exposure. But it's going to be difficult to just skim the cream of the user-generated crop and turn that into a business. For a long time talent agencies have been an extremely tight oligopoly, standing as gatekeepers to any aspiring star. But in the user-driven model, working your way up isn't about doing a song onstage to impress some casting director or delivering your headshots to an agent. If your peers, be they on YouTube or MySpace, like you enough, that alone can propel you higher, with no need from approval to the top. This new dynamic eliminates an important role played by the agencies. The other problem, which is perhaps bigger, is that once these stars of YouTube go from the embedded screen to the silver screen, many are going to lose their appeal or be seen as sell-outs. It's good that these firms are picking up on the growing importance of new media, but this unsophisticated attempt at cashing in doesn't seem particularly innovative.
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