In the online video world, there are no shortage of conferences — but they’re aimed specifically at the business of the industry, not the culture of it. Enter VidCon, which will run from July 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
Organized by Hank Green, the younger Vlogbrothers brother and thus a longtime YouTuber, VidCon is meant as a celebration of the online video world. There’s a clear emphasis on YouTubers in the lineup: the impressive roster of speakers includes Shane Dawson, Shay Carl, Ze Frank, Philip DeFranco, The Gregory Brothers (Auto-Tune the News), Tay Zonday, iJustine, Swift Karate Chop, Charlie McDonnell, Brittani Louise Taylor, Dave Days, Natalie Tran, Lisa Nova, The Fine Brothers, Rhett and Link., MeMeMolly, Mystery Guitar Man, Kaleb Nation, Alex Day, Kassem G, Nalts, Dan Brown, Michael Buckley, David Choi, Julia Nunes, Karen (Spricket) Alloy, Mitchell Davis, Michael Aranda, Iman Crosson (Alphacat), Tim De La Ghetto, Tessa (Meekakitty) Violet and Marina (Hot for Words) Orlova.
But while there’s no official organization backing VidCon, industry players have embraced it, and also slated to speak are Jim Louderback from Revision3, Hunter Walk and George Strompolos of YouTube, Barely Political’s Ben Relles and representatives from JibJab and Machinima.com.
In a phone interview, Green compared VidCon to the Penny Arcade-organized PAX conference, which brings together both the video game industry as well as video game enthusiasts for a celebration of the industry. This means the focus of VidCon is on connecting attendees with each other and their favorite YouTube creators, although Green says there will be a few announcements made — including one by YouTube during Walk’s Friday morning keynote. Green couldn’t hint at what that announcement might be, except to say that the YouTube team was “very insistent on needing a large screen TV.”
Awareness of VidCon has spread in a gradual way, with potential speakers and sponsors getting involved organically. “I’ve had several sponsors come out of the woodwork because their kids told them to. In particular, Cisco is now on board sponsoring VidCon entirely because one of their marketing VPs had a daughter who was a fan of mine,” Green said.
Green is pushing VidCon as a conference for both online video professionals and fans of the medium because, according to Green, “A lot of [YouTubers] don’t really realize the kind of reach and impact they have, especially when it comes to 18 or 19 year olds who don’t recognize the scope of their audience, which is sometimes in the 500,000-600,000s,” he said.
While issues like DMCA takedowns and monetization strategies will be discussed, the point Green is hoping to emphasize over the course of the three days is that “it’s very important for people to have a personal relationship with their audience.”
Currently 1400 people are set to be in attendance, with 100 of that being major YouTube players or industry professionals. 200 to 250 of those attending have also signed up for “Insider” track sessions, which will focus on topics like merchandising, destination sites, and the music industry. And as of June 30, VidCon tickets and sponsorship slots are entirely sold out.
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