I was in talent management for just shy of five years, representing funny people. I worked with comedians, writers, actors, hypnotists, magicians and various combinations of all of the above. As a manager, I was basically an agent, like in Entourage. Except I also produced content, I could wear jeans more often and I had a soul.
If I helped make someone more famous, I was doing a good job. On the other hand, if I helped them find a new hotel at three am because the other one had wet sheets and bed bugs, I was also doing a good job. I've seen both sides of fame. The shiny one that "civilians" see, and the other one, where you remember that they're just people.
I've seen the A-listers who buy extravagant toys and lead scandalous lives. The ones who know what it feels like to be at the top, and are constantly chasing that high. I've also seen the young up-and-comers, bright eyed and hopeful, just happy to have a free meal and someone telling them they have potential.
Now, I work for a social media platform. A tech startup that has topped the charts more than once in our first year, and now I'm getting to know these fame seekers. The ones outside the box and inside the screen. The ones who stay up all night, loving, sharing, posting, replying and hash tagging. Trading shares for subscribers, and personalized content for support. However, this time, I'm not in an exclusive group that sees behind the curtain. When a social media star is pissed, tired or sick, chances are you'll hear about it, too. Those peeks behind the curtain can work in their favor, and makes their fans feel even closer.
In 2014, now more than ever, fame is accessible, and it creates a different breed of famous person. You can release a funny photo, or a weird sex video, or you can write an offensive blog post. You can create a social media account for your adorable pet, or post inspiring or funny videos about your life. You can change the world, if only for twenty-two seconds.
There's a way for talented people who don't want to operate inside "the system," to find success. And cash.
Fame seekers now have the tools to be their own engine, and to build their own stage. And the folks that get it, really get it. There are artists in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but an iPhone and some funny ideas that reach millions of people every day. Sometimes, every hour. Today, it's completely realistic for those people to support themselves with social media.
Achieving web fame, in its purest form, is not about the roles you have gotten, and it's not about how beautiful you are (though, that obviously helps). It's about how reliable you are. It's about how regularly you post content, interact with your followers and subscribers, and keep up the quality of your content. Is it captivating? Is it quick? Is it sharable?
Now, when I say fame, I mean power and attention. You have your Scarlett Johanssons, but you also have your Brittany Furlans. In Hollywood, Scarlett rules; she's got real power. But, in the social media world, Brittany rules. And Scarlett? Well, she's a babe, and super talented, but when it comes to social media, she's got nothing on Brittany.
Our world is about feeling close, but being able to be far. It's about constant entertainment. Didn't like that video? It was only a few seconds, move on.
Both worlds have douchebags. Hollywood has desperation, and social media has spammers. Both worlds are filled with lies. Lies, I tell you! But social media has the safety of anonymity and is filled with bullshit sniffers who have quick thumbs, so you'll hear about it pretty quick.
I'm not saying one is better than the other, but one is definitely more accessible than the other. I haven't (purposefully) been on TV or published a book (yet), but thousands upon thousands of people took the time to read a story about this one time I accidentally farted in a yoga class -- which I wrote while sitting in my mediocre apartment in Santa Monica. In my pajamas. In a world of a million views, thousands might not make you blink, but I didn't have to ask anybody; I just put it out there.
In social media, you don't have to get through a ton of gatekeepers, network and studio heads, agencies and advertisers. You can just start doing it, give it away and see what happens. Hollywood is still trying to catch up, because in that world, the steps have always been: Make a little money, get a few fans, make more money, get more fans and so on. But in social media, you have to make your fans first.
So is it risky? Maybe. But worst-case scenario for the average online content creator, is a bitchy article about them on Gawker, and maybe some hashtag shaming. Although fear not, because in five minutes, someone is going to fall over while dancing, or a puppy is going to do something adorable, or a politician is going to post something stupid. So you'll have another shot. Plus, who is there to stop you?
Make good content.
Make regular content.