The Future Tastemakers of Tomorrow

Posted on 2nd Feb 2012 by Simon Dolsten in Blog

Movie studios, record labels and radio stations used to be the tastemakers. They had all the cool content and if you wanted to experience it you had to see it through their eyes. If you wanted a number one record, you had to be on the radio. If you wanted a big movie, you had to be in the theaters and if you wanted to break a big story you had to write for the newspapers. Everything’s changed, the biggest artists now explode on YouTube. The biggest stories and revolutions happen on Twitter. The hottest visual content is definitely not in the movie theaters.

Still there needs to be tastemakers, they can be bloggers, tweeters or new media platforms. After the corporations lost their cultural and social “cool”, a whole lot of trash invaded our spaces. We still need people to tell us what’s cool, what we should listen to, what we should read and what we should watch.

These tastemakers are not suit wearing Harvard grads but skinny jeans rocking bloggers. They don’t have BlackBerrys, but they most definitely have iPhones. They don’t work at consulting companies but hangout at small ad agencies. They don’t wake up to alarm clocks, they roll out of bed hung-over, inspired and full of ideas. These are the future tastemakers of tomorrow:

1. Mac Miller

Twitter Followers: 1,711,747
Facebook Likes: 1,874,481
Total YouTube Views: 245,641,395

In One Sentence: Independent rapper and internet phenomenon bypassing the big labels by using social media and loyal fans.

He’s like your lazy best friend who smoked way too much pot in high school—but much cooler. Hip-Hop artist Mac Miller sold 144,000 records in a week by not signing with a major record label, but by partying too much and writing it all down on Twitter. Instead of going on Jay Leno, Mac Miller posted videos on YouTube.

Despite his party habits and dorky appearance, Miller is a social media guru. He interacts with his fans directly on Twitter, offering music videos for every 100,000th followers he gets. He puts out online content and mixtapes at a rapid fire rate. He’s got almost 2 million likes on Facebook and knows how to keep them coming. His social media following grows exponential as he constantly updates his fans with photos and trending topics.

Despite all the talk about his social media success, Miller’s genuine love for music is the true source of his stardom. He’s not a major label orchestrated success but a passionate 20 year old kid. His music videos aren’t littered with product placements but full with quirky pop culture references. Miller knows what’s cool and is even better at conveying it.

No matter how big your social media budget is or how many bloggers you’ve paid to promote your content, unless the effort is truly genuine, you’re never going to gain a Mac Miller like cult following. It’s all about creating a real brand, something worth caring about and then interacting with the fans or consumers. Creating a movement should be far more important than short term profits. Social media is a powerful outlet that will only amplify your true intentions.

Miller could have cashed in on his early internet success by signing with a major label but he wanted to remain a creative, uncensored force of nature. What the labels don’t get is that originality, ingenuity and creativity supersede million dollar music videos and intricate radio campaigns. Until they start thinking like Miller, they’ll be stuck complaining about illegal downloading and pushing iTunes singles on unwilling costumers.

2. Ray William Johnson

Twitter Followers: 798,752
Facebook Likes: 2,893,134
Total YouTube Views: 1,563,550,312

In One Sentence: Internet video blogger with more influence than any Hollywood star.

Ray William Johnson has the most subscribed channel on YouTube. He makes short, satirical videos and commentaries on YouTube about viral clips and pranks. He has an immense influence in the world of YouTube, clips covered in his weekly videos see their views skyrocket.

Besides popularity, Ray William Johnson shares little with the Hollywood elite. He’s not extremely good looking and doesn’t prance around on red carpets. He cares about his fans, not about money. He really does interact with his viewers, responding to their comments and reposting fan answers to his famous “Comment Question of The Day”. All of this pays off!

Let’s take a look at who really brings in the views. Since 2000, the Academy Awards have brought in roughly 475 million viewers. Ray William Johnson has 1.5 billion channel views. Hosted by celebrities like Anne Hathaway and Chris Rock, the Oscars have been a hit, however, compared to Ray William Johnson they’re small potatoes. Taking into consideration that Ray William Johnson’s videos are watched through a long period of time and might be viewed by the same person more than once, his statistics are still mind blowing.

At the end of the day, who has more clout, Brad and Angelina on the red carpet or Ray William Johnson in front of a webcam? Brad and Angelina sure get more traditional media attention but Ray William Johnson is racking in the online views.

3. College Humor

Twitter Followers: 388,240
Facebook Likes: 708,232
Total YouTube Views:1,183,070,361

In One Sentence: Internet media platform taking Hollywood by storm.

College Humor has been dubbed the next Saturday Night Live but it’s so much more. Started as a comedy website in 1999, College Humor has become a creative platform expanding its media power daily. Most production companies are trying to move from the silver screen to the computer monitor, College Humor is going the other way. After a brief, unsuccessful stint on MTV, College Humor regrouped and went back to its viral roots. Now finally, College Humor is producing “Coffee Town”, a low budget feature length film starring established TV actors.

TV and film are always going to be very powerful mediums, however, the content playing on these screens will either start on the web or have a very strong parallel web presence. Simply throwing your content on Hulu or YouTube isn’t enough, you need to make a genuine effort. Viral videos might not bring in the big bucks but over a long period of time will build up a loyal and genuine fan base.

College Humor isn’t alone in moving from the web to a bigger screen. Led by Will Ferrel and Adam McKay, Funny or Die is known for its outrageous, obscure and hilarious web clips. Funny or Die sold a 10% stake of the company to HBO in 2008. Since then, Funny or Die has produced original content for HBO and is putting out a film at Sundance. Although Funny or Die is backed by Hollywood comedian Will Ferrell and writing partner Adam McKay, it still retains strong web roots.

4. Turntable.FM

Twitter Followers: 10,524
Facebook Likes:30,121
YouTube Views: N/A

In One Sentence: Virtual music discovery platform.

Music discovery has been around for ages. It’s finally coming back to its true experimental roots. Music discovery is not about some computerized “Genius” application in iTunes making suggestions based on your past purchases. It’s about staying up until four in the morning listening to music with your friends and arguing over what songs are better.

Turntable.FM is bringing this to the digital frontier. Turntable.FM is a music-based social media platform that lets you and your friends DJ in virtual rooms. If you play good music you get DJ points, if you don’t you’ll get skipped and eventually kicked off. Five people can DJ at the time, if you’ve got good taste you’ll get fans and points. Users can also upload their own music and share their thoughts. You can of course DJ with your neighborhood friends but also with random people across the globe. has quickly gained traction and its own celebrity DJs. Famous live artists like DJ Diplo and Talib Kweli have all played personal shows and interacted with fans. I’m not saying that Turntable.Fm is the future of music but interactive listening is. In a couple years, A&Rs won’t be calling the shots on hits but you will.

5. You

Twitter Followers: To be determined
Facebook Likes: Potentially unlimited
YouTube Views: Sky’s the limit

In One Sentence: Voice of a new generation, creator of incredible content.

Don’t send in demos to record labels, upload songs to YouTube. You can be the next tastemaker. Make videos, write stories, post photos—if it’s good, you’ll get noticed, if it’s not, it’ll disappear in the endless sea of online content. Hone your skills, build a brand, start a revolution! No more excuses. 2012 is the year that traditional media outlets lose power and true curators of quality take the reins.

Follow me @SimonDolsten on Twitter. Send me your favorite #FutureTasteMaker and I’ll retweet it.

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