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The Youtube Story: Everybody’s got talent

Millions of people log on to YouTube every day to gain a little knowledge. You find video how-tos for just about anything – from applying makeup to removing scratches from DVDs, to moonwalking like Michael Jackson to solving the Rubik’s cube. Scores of nobodies are gaining instant stardom with YouTube’s free upload button.

india Updated: May 29, 2012 16:22 IST
Sharin Bhatti

How can you learn to tie a turban in a few minutes? A third generation Canadian Sikh attending a wedding in small town Punjab was perplexed. But he logged onto YouTube, found a tutorial, and wrapped seven metres of red cloth around his head. Accepting compliments on his skill later, he named his guide – bhadalwad. That’s the YouTube handle of Sardarian Youth Club, which uploads tutorials on how to tie a turban, amongst other things.

Millions of people log on to YouTube every day to gain a little knowledge. You find video how-tos for just about anything – from applying makeup to removing scratches from DVDs, to moonwalking like Michael Jackson to solving the Rubik’s cube. According to online research, YouTube pumps out over 100 million videos every month and draws 34 million unique visitors a month, ranking it among the 15 most-visited sites in the world.

Almost Famous

Indians too are joining up. Take Madurai-based Canadian expat Wilbur Sargunaraj. The stereotype of a crossover South Indian in North America, a frequent flyer of the Lungi route (through the Middle East to the promised American land and back to Chennai), Sargunaraj hit gold when his ‘how to’ videos and self-parody music videos like ‘Love Marriage’ and ‘Cricket’ appealed to over two million viewers worldwide. “The idli syndrome it is,” says Sargunaraj. “No matter where you’re from – India, Japan, America – everyone knows what idli is. It has mass appeal.”

YoutubeSargunaraj’s YouTube channel has over 10,000 subscribers and carries a picture of a South Indian mustachioed man encircled in a bright yellow globe, with the words ‘First Class’ and ‘Simple Superstar’ around it. The YouTube sensation is responsible for teaching Indians and Westerners alike ‘How to do bhangra’, ‘How to use an eastern latrine’, and even ‘How to order at a drivethrough’. And his Internet fame opened new avenues for Sargunaraj. "A research agency is funding me to write a children’s book on increasing one’s cultural quotient," he says.

Gift of the Gab

Singer-songwriter Natalie Di Luccio have both found success via Youtube

This kind of branding is just a step forward from personal blogging, says musician and funnyman Rohit Pereira. The bassist of bands like Exhumation,

Khiladi

and

Shaa’ir

+ Func, Pereira thought of capturing an online audience with his stand-up act, The P-Man Show, a green room look at the lives of Indian rockers. “I used to run an online discussion forum at gigpad.com back when people read,” he says. “With YouTube, my friends turned the idea into an online show.”

His online success parleyed itself into an offline gig, when the folks behind the music festival NH7 asked him to do a filler item between gigs at the event in Pune this year, called Koffee with P-Man. “People identify me as a rock comic and I know everyone personally,” says Pereira. “So the interviews are always fun.”

Even talent gets recognition on YouTube. Take 21-year-old Canadian Natalie Di Luccio. The singer-songwriter garnered a million hits when she did a rendition of Tu jaaane na… from Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and got noticed by desi director Tushar Parte, who invited her to India. Di Luccio has now recorded a fusion album with Hindustani classical singer Suchita Parte, has recorded background scores for Bollywood films Naam and Jail and also recorded for a Michael Jackson tribute song with Sonu Nigam.

This way to fame But there are talents and talents. Musician Sahil Makhija, band member of Demonic Resurrection, Workshop and Reptilian Death, often known as Demonstealer, has five channels with over 4,00,000 views and 300 subscribers. "Three channels are for my three bands with their music videos, viral blogs and workshops on guitar, drums and vocals. One channel is a personal channel with my blog, my daily activities, my label information and interviews. The last channel is an online TV show," explains Makhija.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/youtube.gif

TV show? Makhija hosts an online cookery show called Headbanger’s Kitchen, produced by rocker and independent filmmaker Srinivas Sunderrajan, shot and edited on professional equipment. “The online medium allows a worldwide viewership and freedom of content makes sure that people who are like-minded watch the show,” says Makhija. “We are now looking for sponsors.”

And freelance professional photographer Aneesh Bhasin is grinning over the phone call he received after he shot and uploaded a video at Delhi airport, showing passengers scuffling with airline staff after their flight was cancelled. Bhasin’s video not only got 57,000 page videos within days but also got the airline to offer compensation.


“I didn’t expect such a reaction. I knew people would watch, but I was also contacted by a news channel,” says Bhasin. Is there a new career in store?

YouTube stars Lauren Luke: The single mother hit the big time when her YouTube channel featuring makeup tutorials made her an instant hit. Justin Beiber: The 15-year-old pop sensation first posted a video on YouTube two years ago. Last year, he was crowned the YouTube star of the year with 1,00,00,000 hits. Queen Elizabeth II: Her Majesty has her own YouTube channel with 36,800 subscribers. The Queen takes you on a tour of her palace. Andy McKee: The 32-year-old guitarist has around 5,00,000 subscribers. He was signed on by Candyrat Records. Smosh: A comedy duo consisting of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. They have over 2.1 million subscribers.

Want to be a YouTube star? start your own channel. YouTube offers themes and formats for musicians, comedians, reporters and others. But add special features to personalise your channel. For instance, a musician can embed a calendar of gigs. to run a successful channel, first introduce yourself to your viewers. Pick a topic you have a strong opinion about. Or respond to other videos. Or create videos that have some relevance to recent news. don’t spam. Ever. choose tags wisely. Popular tags will make it harder for people to find your video. Choose unique but accurate tags. publicise your channel effectively. Use social networking websites.

- From HT Brunch, June 5

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