Hollywood Agents Show The Money To Online Stars

from the the-big-time dept

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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Comments on “Hollywood Agents Show The Money To Online Stars”

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Beefcake says:

I wish I could sell out

I’m glad everyone thinks artists don’t need to eat. Honestly, who’s the bigger sellout? Someone who uses their inherent talent to make the world a more interesting place and is lucky and talented enough to have someone pay them for it; or someone who suppresses their inherent talents working miserably as a cubicle jockey so they can afford lease-payments on an Acura?

If your answer is still the first example (despite my leading question), then do you consider Reggie Bush a sellout? Why is it only artists can sell out by making bank on their talents?

I’m sure it wasn’t meant this seriously, but just think about it.

Sanguine Dream says:

It's all about...

being “underground”, “counter-culture”, or “different”. And group starts off in small clubs and parties and gets a bit of a following. When that band is winning a grammy all of a sudden they are called sellouts by the people that used to watch them in the small clubs. To an extent some artists do sell out by forgetting where they came from and totally change their style to cater to the audience with the most money. But some fans are simply crying, “We were here first.” They thought they had the one-up on the mainstream because they found a good band that wasn’t big time yet. But when the band goes mainstream that small fan base loses its exclusivity, the thing that made them different, therefore they are no longer “cool” or whatever the term is today.

William says:


Sellouts are people who put making money above there art. So if you are a rapper and you drop the hard core stuff and start doing some lame R-Kelly stuff too appeal to the mainstream you are a sell out. It’s got nothing to do with how much money you make. It’s did you stay true to your art and keep it real. And I for one see nothing wrong with people making money and it doesn’t matter if you they were discovered on UTube or singing at the Apollo.

Captain says:

Re: Sellouts

I agree with William. The term “sell-out” has nothing to do with trading art for money. It’s when you trade your soul that the issue truly arises.

Artists creating their art for expression is what makes it beautiful, interseting, clever, obsene [fill in your own adjective here]. But when the art is dictated or directed from someone with only a bottom line in mind, you trade the art moniker for the term commodity.

Anonymous Coward says:


What most people fail to see is that an “artist” would never sell out, as they are in it to satisfy their passion. Anyone who does it for the money is a “professional” and not an artist.

All professional entertainers are sellouts as they are in it for the money. That’s it.

I don’t like either one of those classes, but at least I can recognize them.

Tim says:

It’s very common agency practice when you have that many layers of agents and agent wanna bees in a high level meeting to have someone come up with monitoring the new stars of YouTube and MySpace to see if they can’t filter out some new celebrity, it’s an open forum where agents can do casting calls from their desktops.
And it’s very true that “your peers will think your a sell out” but the industry that will gain the most from this move will probably be the porn industry because that is what you have a lot of out there, wanna be porn stars, especially on MySpace , it’s filled with popular booty girls and sexy strippers who want more.

Elohssa says:

What bugs me...

…is one of the last lines, where they suggest that when YouTube got sold, uploaders felt like they deserved some of the money. The truth of the matter is that they get free hosting and exposure, which is easy to monetize. By the same logic, YouTube should be charging a fee, and charging extra when they are in the news all the time.

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