Left to right: Iman Crosson, aka Alphacat; Kate Albrecht of Mr. Kate; vlogger Bart Baker, and president René Rechtman of Maker Studios.
Hosted by CEO Amber J. Lawson of Comedy Gives Back, MIP’s digital screenings provide a chance to sample and check out the best of different content networks.
International president René Rechtman of Maker Studios quickly gave the floor to three of Maker’s darlings after a few quick stats about Maker Studios itself, and Millennials in general:
– Maker Studios enjoys 11B video views, 650 million subscribers, and an international audience of 70%. 60% of them are between 13-34.
– It’s driven by Millennials, who watch three times more online video than non-Millennials. Europe is host of 125 million of them—or 1/4 of the population. They spend 1,8 hours a day using media.
– Millennials watch snackable content: short-form online video is consumed by 62%, whereas traditional long-form is only consumed by 38% of them. They feel they’re two times more likely to relate to digital content.
What’s more, the definition of a Maker Studios influencer has also changed. “Two years ago it was very focused on YouTube,” said Rechtman. “We see now you’re migrating to other platforms. It’s clear for us now: Talent travels between platforms and works where the audience is.”
Crosson, or Alphacat, explained the provenance of his name: “I have an affinity for lions. The lion is my favourite animal and it’s the alpha of all cats. Also, ‘cats’ mean guy. If I was an animal, I’d be a lion,” he said.
He got his start “waiting tables like every actor. My content is family-friendly, observational humour,” he added. But you’d probably know him best for his Barack Obama impressions, which swept YouTube and Vine like wildfire:
Albrecht described the origins of the Mr. Kate name thus: “I don’t like labels. I think labels should define your own life, so I gave myself my own name: Mr. Kate.”
Albrecht started acting early on and was working as an actress through college. “It’s a lot of auditions, sitting in your car,” she said. “Then when you do work, it’s great, but you’re working for other people’s creative projects.”
She calls Mr. Kate an omnimedia company. It enjoys 20 million YouTube video views and 1 million unique users each month.
“We have a product line as well,” said Albrecht. “The inspirational stuff we do innately just taps into a consumer side of people.”
As for Bart Baker? “I needed to come up with a name, so I just used my name,” he said simply. “Thanks, mom and dad! They wanted me to be a newscaster.”
Baker’s known for producing parodies of well-known videos and music.
“It’s insane if you start looking at the influence our talent has,” said Rechtman, who pointed to the old days of the ‘net, when search engine marketing and pay-per-click were developed. “It was all about efficiencies. What’s happening now, with creative people, is they’re creating passion points. That creates such a power that is beyond belief,” he said.
“Nobody has attention spans anymore,” said Baker. “Stuff that does well needs to be short … people get bored in like, 2.5 minutes unless something crazy happens. So we always include a twist so things don’t fall off.”
To illustrate, Rechtman said 87% of Netflix mobile viewing sessions are under 10 minutes.
So, he said, “the tipping point is here. Where are we going?”
“I think everything is constantly on-the-go,” said Baker, for whom 70% of views are all mobile. “Kids are viewing content on their phone, they’re running into people on the street because they’re on Vine and Snapchat constantly. Snapchat is the most engaged platform, people are just obsessed with it. And everything’s short-form. I can’t even tell you the last person I talked to between 14-24 who sat down and watched a 30 minute programme.”
Crosson sees the future this way: “You’ve always been in the driver’s seat, but now you have way more control.” The trick is to understand that control and decide your content’s destiny. “If you take your craft and push it, you can get way more results out of it than the traditional route. The power is in the creator’s hands,” he said.
“The content we’ve consumed over the decades has been about relationships, stuff you can relate to,” Albrecht said. “This is a new kind of relationship: we’re one-on-one with them. That’s what we’re constantly doing: We’re snapping, we’re saying transparent, people’s cellulite is on the cover of magazines.
“I’m only as valuable as the trust that I have for my audience,” she went on. “As soon as I do something inauthentic to me, my brand or them, I could lose them. That’s how you navigate this world where brands are throwing money at you to integrate into your content.”
Baker also pointed to how production quality expectations are rising: YouTube production quality used to be very poor, and now expectations are extremely high. Even Vines have to be tightly-produced.
“As we’ve grown and you see our images get better, people expect more out of you, so we can’t do Google Images on a green screen anymore,” Crosson agreed. “But the weird thing is, for Vine, if quality gets a little too high and stops looking like something that could’ve been shot on your iPhone, it stops working.”
Baker added that Vines always have to be progressively funnier and funnier.
“That’s why Vine’s become so ridiculous!” Crosson exclaimed. “You have to go way over the bar in six seconds. It’s funny, it’s hilarious, it’s absurd. Vine is basically the internet’s one-night stand.”
As for where they’re headed, Albrecht hopes to expand the reach of Mr. Kate to the point where the brand relies more on its own aesthetic and products, and less on her as a talent.
“My goal is to get onto film and TV,” said Crosson. “And it’s all happening now, and it’s all because of what I slaved over for years on the internet. But I’ll still be updating my social media presence.”
Baker, for his part, is going to start doing original music with producer Dr. Luke. “We can have viral hits that go with the songs, but they’ll actually be good songs, like top-40 stuff. Besides that … getting into acting and TV shows, films, hosting shows. I’m good at that. There’s so many doors that open from having a large following. It’s crazy.”