Asian American Talent Takes Over YouTube

asianave January 17, 2012 Comments Off

Imagine a stage where any artist can find fame. Whether one is a comedian, musician, filmmaker or even a philanthropist, there is a forum for success. Since 2005, YouTube has enable its users to upload, share and view videos. But the site has become more than a video-sharing phenomenon. It has become a place for Asian American talents to thrive.

Although Asian American names might be sparsely mentioned in the mainstream media, they are certainly well-known in the Internet world. For example, Justin Bieber, who found fame on YouTube in 2008, has approximately 1,200,000 subscribers. The feathered hair Bieber has become a household name while NigaHiga, the most subscribed to YouTube channel of all times is still unknown to many.

Since writer/actor Ryan Higa started posting his comedy skits on the site in 2006, he has acquired nearly four million subscribers and is rumored to make six figures.

“It is hard to find Asian celebrities to follow these days,” said Amanda Nuneko, a Japanese-American graduate student studying marketing at the University of Colorado in Boulder. “If we cannot make it on television or in movies, then why on not the Internet?”

According to Online Marketing Trends, YouTube exceeds two billion views per day. That is almost double the primetime audience of three major U.S. networks combined. It is also localized in 23 countries across 24 different languages. And 70 percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.

“YouTube is a place where Asian Americans can receive exposure they are often denied in our society,” Nuneko said. “They can be their own agent, publicist and showcase their talent from their own homes.”

And viewers can watch their favorite YouTubers anytime, anywhere.

Christine Gambito hoped her Happy Slip Productions would cause viewers to “slip into happiness.” With nearly 7.4 million subscribers on YouTube, the Filipina American actress runs a one woman show. She writes, directs, performs and edits all of her own videos. An actress in New York City, Gambito was able to gain worldwide exposure when she began posting videos on YouTube in 2006.

David Choi, one of the first Asian American musicians to gain popularity on YouTube never felt like he was playing to a global audience via his YouTube videos. He never thought a shy guy like himself would be posting videos for the world to see.

“The whole thing felt surreal like it was some sort of a game. I even got people commenting on my appearances and personality, which I rarely experienced in real life. I found that to be strange and interesting, how a place like this could exist,” said Choi in his Web page biography.

Now Choi has over 830,000 subscribers and is on tour in Southeast Asia and Australia this summer.

But YouTube is not just for comedians, musicians and ranters to find an audience.

Jason Y. Lee collaborated with his two good friends to found The Jubilee Project. Together they have created 25 videos in the last year that have raised over $23,000 for 11 non-profit organizations. The videos posted on YouTube highlight issues like human rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, refugees in North Korea and deaf children in America among the few. The project was inspired by Lee’s effort to raise money for the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti singing in New York City subway station.

Lee made $70 in the subway station, just $30 shy of his goal. He posted a video of his efforts on YouTube, “My Hundred for Haiti,” in hopes of inspiring more to donate to the cause.

“When we posted the video on YouTube, something amazing happened,” Lee said. “We had over 1,000 views and raised over $700 for Haiti.”

The project is powered by “Active Viewership,” the integration of online videos with philanthropy. For videos that fundraise for organizations, individuals can become sponsors who pledge to donate one penny per video viewed. Thus, if a page gets 100 views, the sponsor will donate $1. The videos keep people engaged and support a good cause.

In addition to raising money for non-profits, The Jubilee Project creates entertaining videos designed to “spread the love” and “enable, empower and inspire others to do good as well,” Lee said.

With over 14,000 subscribers and growing support, The Jubilee Project proves YouTube videos can do more than entertain- they can change the world.

Whether it is spreading love, music, opinions or laughs, Asian Americans are making their way into larger conversations one video at a time. Here are more talents to follow:

Wong Fu Productions
Old dorm mates at University of California, San Diego, Wesley Chan, Ted Fu and Philip Wang, began making videos in 2003. Now Wong Fu Productions is an independent production company that makes short films, music videos and “vlogs.” Their mission is to tell good stories and have fun.
Subscribers: 787,622

Twenty-year-old Kevin Wu is the mastermind behind KevJumba. He began posting comedy acts on YouTube during his junior year in high school when he was inspired by his idol, Dave Chapelle. His second YouTube channel, Jumbafund, donates the proceeds he earns from advertising to charities.
Subscribers: 1,652,774

The Wine kone
A parody-style channel produced by Tony from Ontario, Canada. The Wine Kone’s motto is “Changing the world one weird video at a time since 2005.”
Subscribers: 149,962

Jason Yang Violin
Yang is a graduate from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Music Industry. He is a classically trained violinist, but has branched off into other genres such as hip-hop, rock, jazz, electronic and funk. Yang writes and produces his own music and tours with major performing artists.
Subscribers: 53,723

This channel is run by a designer and freelance make-up artist with videos on everything related to beauty and make-up. Viewers can learn how to make the perfect brows or creating the perfect taupe eyes.
Subscribers: 117,851

Timothy De La Ghetto
Tim Chantarangsu is a Thai rapper/comedian. His list his style as improve and does everything from rap to rant.
Subscribers: 913,730

Kina Grannis
Grannis is the singer-songwriter who won Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which earned her a recording contract and her video played during the commercials of Super Bowl XLII. She has posted videos of her songs on YouTube since 2007, has gained worldwide exposure and is on her first world tour this year.
Subscribers: 363,865


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