YouTubers and Busking

21 March 2017

Along with another PhD student (in Communications) and his advisor, my advisor and I recently submitted a proposal for funding to study professional YouTubers, streamers, and other online performers given the growing interest (and drama) in these communities. I think there’s an interesting perspective in there related to street performances. Funnily enough, in a book I’ve been reading (Drawing a Circle in the Square), there have been some funny quotations that are a little uncanny that I figure I’ll share

  • “… up to three hundred people will be crowded” is funnily close to the 301 view count that YouTube used to freeze at when videos grew in popularity.
  • The book mentions people in the distance watching turtles race, which is also a thing on YouTube!
  • Women get harassed in the street “by men who view them as ‘fair game’ on the streets”. I shouldn’t need to link a specific story, but for completeness, women get harassed on YouTube, like, a lot.
  • Finally out of the preface! The author asks why street performers choose the street instead of going indoors (even when they get the opportunity), and they mention things like spontaneity (“Some days I work over here, some days I work over there, some days I don’t work at all — I love it!”), freedom (“on the streets, you can do what you want to do and see if it works”), connection to the audience (“performers felt that people are more honest on the streets” and “the chance to pause and share an experience” (that bit quoted from another book still in my queue))
  • references to a street performer’s stature or power being measured by the size of the audience they capture, how many people they captivate; I would imagine similar things matter to YouTubers, especially since that’s quantifiable (subscriber count, video views, etc…)

Anyway, you can read the proposal here. If you’re a YouTuber or a streamer (e.g. on Twitch or elsewhere) and you’ve gone full time (that is, you’re not doing YouTube videos on the side, but you’ve made it your main thing), I’m interested in chatting about… well, the stuff I mention in the proposal. Basically how you engage and think about audiences, how you engage and think about your peers (other streamers/YouTubers/etc…), and how you engage and think about the platform (whether that’s YouTube or Twitch or whatever).

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