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Indie Spotlight: ‘Brooklyn Sound’ Plays A Humorous Tune

12 February 2016 3:56 PM, PST

As I did two weeks ago, I’m using this week’s Indie Spotlight column to showcase a series built around an ensemble cast of curious characters. This time, the series in our sights is Brooklyn Sound, a mockumentary set at a down-on-its-luck recording studio.

In Brooklyn Sound, series creator Julia Mattison stars as Lucy, the second-generation owner of the titular studio. In order to address her business’ downtrodden financial state, Lucy opens its doors to a series of unusual acts, whose respective quirks are all ramped up to eleven. In the first three episodes, we meet a homeless folk bad, an obnoxious pair of YouTubers, and a glum pop singer.

Brooklyn Sound’s characters are well-rendered, but what really makes the series click is its impeccable comedic timing. The mockumentary style is a tough one to get right, but by adding in some well-measured awkward pauses and delivering punchlines »

- Sam Gutelle

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‘A Trip To Unicorn Island’ Generated 601 Million Social Media Impressions On Its Premiere Date

12 February 2016 2:59 PM, PST

While it’s still too early to tell how YouTube Red’s first fleet of original programs have fared in terms of viewership, the social media hullabaloo generated by vlogger Lilly Singh’s A Trip To Unicorn Island documentary seems to bode incredibly well for the initiative.

On Wednesday, the date of the film’s launch, A Trip To Unicorn Island generated more than 601 million impressions on social media, according to data culled by Astronauts Wanted, which produced the film. (These impressions do not refer to Singh herself; just the movie.) In terms of engagement -- meaning likes, Retweets, comments and more -- Island generated 3.7 million impressions, said Astronaut’s vice president of social and transmedia, Megan Westerby.

The team purposefully kept the hashtag (#AT2UI) consistent across all platforms since the project’s announcement last April. All told, Westerby says, the film has received 2.5 billion social impressions, which peaked »

- Geoff Weiss

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‘The Amazing Race’ Season 28 Introduction: Get Ready, Get Set, Influence!

12 February 2016 2:36 PM, PST

Hello, my name is Jenni Powell and I am excited.

For those not familiar, I’ve been producing and creating in the digital media space since 2006. I started out in the fan community of lonelygirl15 (Rip Bree) and went on to work on The Guild and many other early scripted web series. I went on to produce the Emmy Award Winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Emma Approved. I currently am a producer on The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy and an Executive Producer and Co-Creator on Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets. I have a very deep love and passion for what I do and the digital media space as a whole.

But I also have another love. One I keep close to my heart, but that anyone who really knows me has witnessed the great excitement and fulfillment it brings me. I have even converted some people »

- Jenni Powell

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Issa Rae, Project Greenlight Digital Studios Join Forces For Screenwriting Contest

12 February 2016 1:59 PM, PST

Issa Rae’s Color Creative TV and Project Greenlight Digital Studios are looking to promote a new class of creators. The two companies have joined forces for the New Normal Writing Contest, which asks each entrant to submit a pitch for an anthology series based around the theme “trophy.”

Writers who are interested in New Normal can enter the contest by putting together a one-page pitch for a series that shows, as Rae puts it, “at what lengths people will go to obtain that symbol of victory.” From that pool of pitches, Project Greenlight and Color Creative will select a pool of 60 semi-finalists that will be whittled down to 12 finalists and, eventually, three winners. Those winners will each be matched with showrunners, directors, and line producers to bring their pitches to life; they’ll also take home $5,000 prizes.

New Normal continues Project Greenlight’s quest to shine light on unheralded »

- Sam Gutelle

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YouTube Caters To Musicians By Acquiring BandPage For $8 Million

12 February 2016 12:28 PM, PST

YouTube, in an effort to diversify the revenue streams of its musical creators, has announced a new acquisition. The video site has scooped up BandPage, which let musicians offer merchandise and concert tickets to their fans across multiple platforms.

BandPage, which launched in 2009, was initially tied closely to Facebook, but it has since rolled out to include other platforms. Now, its users can connect with fans on Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, Twitter, and several other platforms. From those starting points, fans are directed to merch, ticketing, and offer pages through the BandPage interface.

YouTube’s acquisition of BandPage could be a big boon for the site’s musical creators. Most professional videomakers now understand that ad revenue is an inefficient revenue stream, especially when compared to more lucrative ventures like merchandise and live events. That understanding has led a rise in creator-focused mobile apps, such as those created by Victorious and Beachfront, »

- Sam Gutelle

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Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 Stream Culls 20 Million Viewers, But Plagues Tidal With Major Technical Difficulties

12 February 2016 10:46 AM, PST

Rabble rouser Kanye West did not fail to deliver at yesterday afternoon’s Yeezy Season 3 premiere. The fashion show-slash-album release party was hosted at New York’s Madison Square Garden and also broadcast across hundreds of movie theaters around the world and on the artist-owned streaming platform Tidal.

Roughly 20 million people tuned into the live stream -- a number so huge that it resulted in slow or failing loads as well as frequent interruptions, as many users bemoaned on Twitter.

"With over 20 million people logging in at once to stream the show there were tech issues from Amv, the provider with service from Akamai,” Tidal acknowledged to Billboard in a statement. “Any viewers still having issues can refresh their browsers or set it to a lower streaming level."

The streaming hiccups forced viewers to turn to other platforms, including Periscope, reports The New York Times, and doesn’t represent the »

- Geoff Weiss

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Live-Streaming Platform Streamup Announces First Original Programming Slate

12 February 2016 10:42 AM, PST

Streamup, fresh off an exclusive deal with notable YouTube duo BriaAndChrissy, is making some more big moves within the realm of original content. The streaming video service, which competes with platforms like Periscope, Meerkat, and YouNow, has revealed its first full slate of original programs.

The slate, as first reported by Variety, includes both a combination of scripted and unscripted programs. Will Keenan, Streamup’s President, previously led the Endemol Beyond multi-channel network, and in gathering creative partners for Streamup, Keenan has turned to some of his old pals. Andy Milonakis, for example, will host a cooking show on the streaming platform, after launching a food series with Endemol Beyond last year.

Other programs in Streamup’s slate include a live stream of South Park co-creator Trey Parker’s Cannibal! The Musical, a pair of talk shows, and a program focused on sports betting. “Show business is being reinvented yet again, »

- Sam Gutelle

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KFC Proves That, For Super Bowl Ads, TV Is No Longer Necessary

12 February 2016 9:12 AM, PST

In a recent blog post, YouTube revealed the top ads from Super Bowl 50, as chosen by the users of its Adblitz channel. After scoring millions of views in the days leading up to the Big Game, Pokemon’s 20th anniversary video emerged at the top of YouTube’s rankings. That result should come as no surprise; after all, Pokemon’s target demographic matches up with YouTube’s.

The more interesting result concerns the ad that finished fifth on YouTube’s ranking. Adblitz users voted Kentucky Fried Chicken’s “Dream” as one of their favorite Super Bowl ads, even though the 30-second spot didn’t air during the game itself. Instead, it was featured prominently within CBS’ digital stream of the game, and through that method, it gained as much attention as ads with in-game slots.

“Dream” continues KFC’s current campaign, in which comedian Norm Macdonald plays the fast food chain’s iconic mascot, »

- Sam Gutelle

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As Digital Media Explodes In China, Baidu Gets $2.8 Billion Offer For Its Stake In Video Platform Qiyi

12 February 2016 7:46 AM, PST

Robin Yanhong Li, the chairman and CEO of Chinese search giant Baidu, and Yu Gong, CEO of Qiyi.com, a leading online video platform, have proposed a non-binding offer to purchase the 80.5 percent stake in Qiyi that Baidu already owns. The offer would value the streaming site at $2.8 billion.

The two companies would remain strategic partners and “enter into business cooperation agreements” after the transaction, according to a press release.

While Baidu -- which is often likened to the Google of China as the country’s largest search engine -- has formed a special board to respond to the offer, no decisions have been made yet with respect to the proposal.

Visit Tubefilter for more great stories. »

- Geoff Weiss

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YouTube Star Swoozie Among Creative Partners For New Digital Studio

11 February 2016 2:49 PM, PST

Bento Box is launching a digital studio, and it has enlisted creative partners who have experience both on and offline. The production company behind TV shows like Bob’s Burgers has launched Bento Box Digital Studios, which will launch a content slate consisting of at least four original programs.

The most intriguing program within Bento Box’s slate, at least from our digital-centric point-of-view, is sWooZie’s Adorably Dead, an animated series created by YouTube star Adande “sWooZie” Thorne. Thorne’s YouTube channel is best known for its animated stories, which have opened up a lot of doors for their creator. Beyond his deal with Bento Box, Thorne also recently received an opportunity to interview President Barack Obama.

The other projects on deck for Bento Box Digital Studios include an animated series from the creators of the Danish webcomic Wumo, a weekly sketch comedy series that will blend live action with animation, »

- Sam Gutelle

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Remember Ok Go? They Just Made Another Crazy Video

11 February 2016 1:03 PM, PST

Many of the stars of the early YouTube era have since faded into obscurity, but Ok Go is still rolling along. The alt-rock quartet, which first gained fame thanks to their wild, treadmill-powered music video for their song “Here It Goes Again,” has now released what is quite possibly its most ambitious video of all: It accompanies the song “Upside Down & Inside Out,” and it takes place within a freefalling plane.

The video begins innocently, with the four members of Ok Go strapped into their seats. Once the music kicks in, however, they begin floating about the cabin, as if in space. The video’s “trick” is a simple one: The plane itself is in freefall, thus creating the illusion that Ok Go, their flight attendants, their piñatas, and everything else on their plane is tumbling--upside down and inside out--toward the ground.

Ok Go released “Upside Down & Inside Out” on its Facebook page, »

- Sam Gutelle

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At&T, Fullscreen Announce ‘Hello Lab,’ A Yearlong Initiative With Grace Helbig, Us The Duo And More

11 February 2016 11:47 AM, PST

At&T and Fullscreen have announced a yearlong initiative entitled “Hello Lab,” whereby the telecommunications giant will collaborate with 10 social influencers to create video content, podcasts, meetups, and more.

Initial participants include hallmark YouTube star Grace Helbig, travel hosts Damon and Jo, musicians Us The Duo, magician Collins Key, Instagram comedian Brandon Armstrong and Snapchatter Shaun McBride -- with four more partners to be announced in the coming year.

The content will be shot with “phones as mobile production studios” and bolstered by a “360-degree marketing campaign,” according to a press release, and it will live on each of the creators’ respective channels.

Visit Tubefilter for more great stories. »

- Geoff Weiss

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YouTube Tracks Tori Kelly’s Journey From ‘American Idol’ Also-Ran To Grammy Nominee

11 February 2016 11:01 AM, PST

At the 58th Grammy Awards, which will occur on February 15, singer-songwriter Tori Kelly is nominated for Best New Artist. While Kelly only caught the Grammys’ eye after releasing her debut LP Unbreakable Smile in 2015, she’s been a notable name on YouTube for years and has more than 1.3 million subscribers on her main channel.

Kelly’s channel is an integral part of a rags-to-riches story. After she was rejected from American Idol in 2010, she focused her efforts online, and eventually used the fame she accrued there to launch herself to mainstream success. How big of a role did online video play in Kelly’s rise? YouTube itself has provided the answer through a blog post shared on its Trends blog.

YouTube’s post tracks the history of Kelly’s channel and points out the key moments in her digital career. Unlike some other artists, such as fellow Best New Artist nominee Meghan Trainor, »

- Sam Gutelle

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YouTube Millionaires: Gizzy14Gazza Enjoys “Making Up Stories” In ‘Minecraft’

11 February 2016 9:01 AM, PST

The world of Minecraft is expansive, particularly on YouTube, and within that world, Gizzy14Gazza has found a way to express himself. The British gamer, who is partnered with Machinima, has attracted more than one million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his "roleplay" videos, which bring a cinematic quality to the Minecraft gameplay experience, are among his most popular offerings. Here is a deeper look at Gizzy14Gazza's world, in his own words:

Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?

Gizzy14Gazza: I thought it would feel differently hitting one million subscribers but it feels the same as when I hit 100,000 subscribers. It's still cool to say I have one million subscribers though. Nevertheless, I'm forever grateful for those who have clicked, subscribed, and shared my content..

Tf: Where does your username come from?

Gg: When I »

- Sam Gutelle

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RocketJump To Launch Second Scripted Sci-Fi Series Exclusively On Hulu

11 February 2016 7:39 AM, PST

YouTuber Freddie Wong has announced yet another partnership with Hulu -- this time on a scripted series entitled Dimension 404. The announcement arrives on the heels of RocketJump: The Show -- an unscripted look behind the scenes at Wong’s production company that debuted exclusively on Hulu in December.

Dimension 404, also created in partnership with Lionsgate, “will explore the wonders and horrors of the digital age,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. The title references the ‘404’ Internet page error code and will reportedly explore questions including, “What if an obscure cartoon held the secret to time travel?” and “What if energy drinks caused the apocalypse?”

While RocketJump: The Show comprised eight, half-hour episodes, Dimension 404 will feature a 6-episode arch, each of which is an hour long.

Visit Tubefilter for more great stories. »

- Geoff Weiss

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‘Unicorn Island’ Director Scott Winn: Lilly Singh Documentary Is ‘A Film That Teaches’

10 February 2016 3:09 PM, PST

On February 10th, production company Astronauts Wanted released A Trip To Unicorn Island (AT2UI), a documentary about online video star Lilly Singh, on the brand new YouTube Red platform. AT2UI follows Singh on a recent tour, and it provides a look inside her life, her work, and her relationships with friends, family, and fans.

Singh has toured late-night TV to promote the new documentary, and by including it as one of its first Red originals, YouTube clearly has big goals for AT2UI as well. But what exactly are those goals, and how with the film achieve them?

To answer those questions, we spoke to Scott Winn, best known as the man behind the ScottDW YouTube channel. Winn directed AT2UI, and he has a very clear vision for what he hopes the film can accomplish. Here are his thoughts:

Tubefilter: How did you get involved in this project? »

- Sam Gutelle

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PewDiePie Promotes His New Show On ‘Conan,’ ‘Today’

10 February 2016 2:22 PM, PST

Lilly Singh isn’t the only YouTube star who has recently toured the TV talk show circuit. Like Singh, FelixPewDiePie” Kjellberg stars in a new original program on YouTube Red, and he too has taken to TV to promote his work. Leading up to the release of his series Scare PewDiePie, he appeared on both Today and Conan to discuss his status as the world’s most popular YouTube star.

PewDiePie has appeared on TV before (he hung out with Stephen Colbert last September), and in all his televised appearances, he has come off as a cool customer. The buttoned-down behavior he displays as he calmly explains his world to Conan O’Brien may not match the loud personality he puts forth online, but he is a good ambassador for his community, and for that, he deserves praise. As he told Conan and Andy Richter during their chat, "It's all about having fun. »

- Sam Gutelle

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GloZell, Frankie Grande, Brittany Furlan Band Together For Home Fire Awareness PSA

10 February 2016 1:45 PM, PST

Luminary digital influencers like GloZell Green, Frankie Grande and Brittany Furlan have banded together for a new PSA that aims to put out home fires -- a startlingly common tragedy, according to the American Red Cross, that claims roughly 7 lives every day.

The home fire awareness campaign, dubbed 2Steps2Minutes, features top stars advocating that viewers practice a fire drill plan that takes no more than two minutes, and to check their smoke alarms every month.

The Red Cross created the cheeky spot in collaboration with YouTube channel What’s Trending, media giant iHeartMedia, The Charity Network and Reveal Project, a seller of socially conscious merchandise. It was directed by the Brothers Reidell -- of Camp Takota and Bad Night fame. Check it out below.

Visit Tubefilter for more great stories. »

- Geoff Weiss

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Fund This: ‘Super Science Friends’ Assemble On Kickstarter

10 February 2016 12:33 PM, PST

Project Name: Super Science Friends

Asking For: $103,297 on Kickstarter

Amount Raised Thus Far (At Time Of Post): $20,491

Days Remaining In Campaign (At Time Of Post): 6

Description: Given their penchant for manipulating elements in spectacular new ways, scientists are kind of like real-life superheroes, and that's the vibe Super Science Friends is going for. Tinman Creative's animated project, which imagines famous scientists from history as epic crime fighters, is hoping to fund three new episodes after launching a compelling pilot last year.

The protagonists of Super Science Friends are familiar figures like Nikola Tesla, Charles Darwin, and Marie Curie, but they've been souped up with special powers that match their scientific accomplishments. Tesla can conjure an electric force field, for example, while Darwin can morph into the creatures he famously studied. On the opposite side, our intrepid scientists face a parade of Nazi and Red Army thugs, and the »

- Sam Gutelle

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Maker Studio’s Final Price Tag In Seminal Disney Deal Is Less-Than-Expected-But-Still-Massive $675 Million

10 February 2016 11:09 AM, PST

While Disney’s acquisition of Maker Studios was one of the earliest and largest plays by a traditional media powerhouse for a so-called multi-channel network, the seminal deal has ultimately proved less valuable than anticipated.

All told, Disney ended up paying $675 million for Maker Studios, according to a 10-q form filed by the company yesterday. This included an initial payment of $500 million and a subsequent $175 million in earn-outs. While that isn’t exactly chump change, it’s significantly less than the additional $450 million that Maker was slated to earn (and which many expected it would) if certain performance goals were met.

Maker CEO Ynon Kreiz stepped down in December after the earn-out period expired amid reports of some friction. Maker felt it would have more access to Disney’s brands and IP, according to Re/code, and was also upset by changes in Disney’s corporate architecture. Kreiz was succeeded by former COO Courtney Holt, »

- Geoff Weiss

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