Dear Bounty Killer and Aidonia, please join the YouTube vlog community!
At least, University of the West Indies lecturer in culture, Professor Donna Hope, thinks they should join the platform next.
“I am sure their fans would love to see more of the ins and outs of their lives,” Hope told BUZZ. “The field is wide open with so many Jamaican artistes already showing snapshots of their lives on Instagram.”
Up to May 2019, Adonia filmed travel vlogs which were uploaded to Magical Studios’ YouTube channel. Within a year, some of Jamaica’s biggest musical stars have turned on their cameras, welcoming fans into their personal lives by becoming Youtubers.
The local Youtube space has developed with early content creators from Andrew Trabass and Kevin Too Krayzee, to Petite-Sue Divinti, Dutty Berry, Razablade TV and Quite Perry. In recent months, those we usually associate with recording or performing music like Tami Chin and Wayne Marshall, Spice, Ryan Mark and Romain Virgo have joined the community.
Hope identified a link among this growing trend, increased screen times and the pandemic.
“This is no coincidence; COVID-19 has pushed entertainment online, and so these additions are tapping into the captive audiences that now exist in multiples,” she said. “People are tied to their screens for work, school, entertainment… so you are more likely to catch their attention during this time.”
She added: “The newer entrants like Tami Chin and Wayne Marshall are creatives who have bought into the notion of expanding their brand by selling a kind of ‘lifestyle’ showcase to their old and new fans. Since they already had a fanbase on social media, it is easier for them to capitalise on this and transform it into eyes on Youtube.”
First introduced in April as ‘Tami Chin Mitchell’, the channel has grown a subscriber count beyond 100,000. Rebranded as ‘Meet The Mitchells’, there are now more than 100 videos starring the family and their helper, MoMo. Spice, who also started vlogging in April, has more than 200,000 folks who’ve hit that subscribe button and keeps it spicy with Q&As, challenges and Atlanta-based vlogs.
Ryan Mark, also a pastor, started vlogging in July and adds some spirituality to the mix with prayed-up uploads comprising life in quarantine, his exercise regimen, family pars and church sermons. Romain Virgo and his wife, Elizabeth, are the newest addition to the family, garnering more than 200,000 views on their five-minute intro video alone.
Hope said the platform will provide income opportunities for these entertainers, including revenue from advertising, affiliate marketing and merchandising. She also explained that there is a demand for this level of fan engagement.
“It is a part of the ‘reality series’ concept and so old and new fans do follow the episodes,” she said. “This definitely counteracts the inability to engage with fans in a live, face-to-face setting at a stage show, concert or other music events. It is a great way to keep fans engaged with your brand(s) if you are willing and able to deal with the incursions into your private space.”
Dance Xpressionz has also gotten into film production with the hit YouTube series, The Bartender, but YouTube isn’t the only economic and brand expansion option being explored by Jamaican celebrities during quarantine. Acts like D’Angel, Macka Diamond and Ishawna have joined OnlyFans, with the latter recently launching a bejewelled facial mask line.
Hope encouraged entertainers to be innovative and maintain their visibility by employing traditional and non-traditional media.
“Even while earnings from live shows and tours have disappeared, I have confidence in the resilience and creativity of our entertainers and their teams,” she said. “Dancehall dancers have been hosting ZOOM sessions in lieu of tours, and many persons have been showcasing their skills as selectors. Entertainers should continue to expand their brands and tap into products that are related to their brands… Use up the various online options to showcase your craft and continue to live in optimism and keep safe and healthy.”