September 17, 2014
More than 20 talent agencies and management companies are vying to represent some of YouTube’s biggest celebrities with the promise of growing these stars’ online audience and traditional media presence. Agents often negotiate endorsement deals, acting gigs, music deals and book deals. They can also help the young-adult and teenage stars navigate licensing contracts. YouTube stars have started attracting traditional media companies, and now traditional management companies.
Felix Kjellberg, better known as PewDiePie, has more than 30 million subscribers and made $4 million in ad revenue alone last year. Deals to promote brands within his videos bring in even more income, and agents and managers are hoping to get a cut of the profits.
An increasing number of online celebrities such as PewDiePie are being sought by traditional media outlets for endorsements, public appearances, cameos in films and television shows, and more.
However, the frenzy of agents and managers finding YouTube stars to represent has caused some concerns about exploitation.
“The concern is that some intermediaries — upstarts and less-honorable companies — are taking advantage of Internet performers, many of whom are naïve teenagers,” reports The New York Times.
Big entertainment companies could take advantage of young online stars by signing them for much less than their worth. That’s where management’s advocacy role comes in. For example, the sister-duo behind the Eleventhgorgeous YouTube username went from $500 brand deals to $5,000 deals in only five months of working with Lennon Management, a company that focuses on representing YouTube personalities.