YouTube is hosting its big YouTube Live event right now here in San Francisco. Liz and I are on the UG-scene and will be providing updates throughout the evening. Mainstream stars like Will.I.Am, AKON and Katy Perry are rubbing shoulders with web celebs like Michael Buckley, Tay Zonday and “Fred” so stay tuned for interviews, news and more.
Update from Liz 3:28 p.m.: Just live-streamed a couple clips of the backstage scene, including Katy Perry and Will.i.am’s rigs, and a nice little view of the Golden Gate Bridge just outside. YouTube is conducting a press conference now where they’re saying the people performing today are responsible for 2.5 billion views. Michael Buckley, LisaNova, Tay Zonday are queuing up to joint the press conference. They are part of the “Vlog Squad” today — not quite sure what that means yet. Holy crap, Tay Zonday really sounds like that in person.
Update from Liz 4:11 p.m.: Sorry about the problems with the clips. We’re having trouble getting through YouTube’s Wi-Fi security. But good stuff is on its way! (That was all fixed but since some of the clips were stuck in transit for a while they’re now somewhat out of order.)
Update from Liz 5:01 p.m.: We interviewed the Poptub team in the hall. They say they’ve gotten all sorts of access to the show for the last three days and interviewed all the YouTubers except Fred so far, though they hear he’s sort of a diva. I asked them about the reported objective for them to get 3 billion views, and they say it was misinterpreted; it was actually 1 billion “impressions” by the end of the year. Check the Kyte livestream if you’re interested.
Update from Liz 5:09 p.m.: OK, the show is on. Katy Perry just performed “Hot and Cold,” now Beardyman is on beat-boxing. You don’t need us for the live-blog of the mainstage, way better to watch the live-stream (no embed, sorry). But some notes on the scene: People are definitely hyped, and the place is packed (though it’s a pretty small venue…YouTube PR said they’re expecting 2-3,000 attendees). Lots of colorful characters — plenty of skateboarders, but no kittens or puppies so far. Biggest applause since the show started (by far) was for Tay Zonday. Chris and I are across the catwalk from Chad Hurley and Larry Page, who seem psyched. Now they’re live-streaming from a Virgin America “party plane” and the quality is really shitty so everyone’s just chatting with each other. OK, onto Sick Puppies (no, not the real thing…the band).
Update from Liz 5:17 p.m.: Many YouTubers were just invited to come be in the VIP section, not to actually perform. They all have Flip cameras in hand, and are filming everything. Kind of a bizarre scene to see a hundred of the same cameras getting nearly the same shot at the same time.
Update from Liz 6 p.m.: They’re going through bucket categories that don’t fit on stage like sports, dance, and politics. As for the live stuff, it’s pretty awesome: breakdancing, Mythbusters, cup stackers, magic. Queen Rania gets the YouTube visionary award from SF mayor Gavin Newsom and his new wife. She accepts via a sent-in video of of the top ten reasons she started a YouTube channel, Letterman-style. Every time Obama comes up people go crazy. OK, now Will.i.am singing his new Obama single.
Update from Liz 7 p.m.: Akon is the closer? Is he really that big? He’s singing — even crowdsurfing. And now the fake smoke is setting in. Altogether a crazy, raw-around-the-edges variety show — actually perfect for YouTube. It undoubtedly was going to be weird to try to bring a web site to life, but it wasn’t that bad. The one thing is, this was kind of a celebration of YouTube’s entire existence, not this particular year. Which made it oddly like a memorial tribute or something. What will they do next time?
Update from Liz 7:15 p.m.: So Chris comments that for an event built on a web site, this was weirdly like the Emmys. Which I agree was true to a point — it was super strange to see Michael Buckley and LisaNova doing banter off a teleprompter. The headline acts they were able to snag were also pretty incongruous. (Though Katy Perry and Will.i.am worked the best by not just performing but also integrating themselves into other bits of the show.) It’ll be interesting to see what kind of numbers the live stream attracted. Sure, YouTube is a humongously popular web site, but can it promote an event like this and make it a huge deal all on its own?
Update from Liz 7:49 p.m.: For those wondering about the live stream, here’s what I got. It was powered by Google and its servers, though they enlisted other infrastructure to ensure that they didn’t crash (looks like the partner was Akamai). And there was a high of at least 650,000 simultaneous streams, probably more. YouTubers backstage called the event a success, and said they would wait to see what the reaction was before they decide if it will be an annual thing.
Did you watch? Did you care? Let us know.