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The Collective: Agents To The ‘YouTube’ Stars

Well, it had to happen. As a medium of its own, the Internet – specifically YouTube – has generated its own stars. They are like TV and movie celebrities, but they are not borne of the big or small screen. Heck, look no further than this site for examples of such celebs. We spotlight Internet-grown stars like Narduwar all the time.

But you know what stars need when they get ‘big’ enough, right? Agents! And now, the big names on the ‘Net have one. Los Angeles entertainment industry vet Michael Green founded The Collective in 2005 – the same year YouTube was started – ‘to capitalize on the shifting entertainment landscape…by teaming with artists…who he believes are well positioned to capitalize on the decentralization of media consumption.’ Green presumed (rightly) that as consumers in greater and greater numbers watched less TV and attended fewer movies shown in theaters, opting more for Internet-based entertainment, that new stars would emerge… stars who were not being represented by traditional talent agencies. Having already represented and handled administrative duties for the likes of the Backstreet Boys and Snoop Dogg, Green has set up The Collective to manage the careers of Internet icons who have reached (or have the potential to reach) the six-figure income level by themselves. Taking them on as clients then frees them to continue pushing the limits of their creativity (which is what made them stars in the first place). Meanwhile The Collective handles mundane matters like fee negotiations, legal matters and other paperwork. It’s win-win. Here’s how.

Comedic musician team Rhett & Link, once overwhelmed by huge marketing contract proposals from General Motors and McDonald’s, certainly appreciated (and were happy to pay for) The Collective’s help. Another client, Annoying Orange, created by indie filmmaker Dane Boedigheimer, now has its own Cartoon Network show with 2.5 million subscribers. That’s an Internet entertainer… doing “TV numbers”… on YouTube… insane! Bet there is some insane money involved on the back end for The Collective, too.

Best believe that this business model is here to stay, too. The Interactive Advertising Bureau has tracked growth of brand spending in digital video from $324 million in 2007 to $1.8 billion in 2011. That’s right: Digital video brand spending more than quadrupled its 2007 figure in the course of four years! And for a fraction of the money it takes to develop and launch TV ad campaigns, brand companies get their names and messages out to masses of young, loyal viewers they hope to convert to consumers. Moreover, Internet ads are becoming more sophisticated (e.g. companies like Rhett & Link and their competitors are stepping up their game); so the digital video advertising business can be expected to intensify and grow… and The Collective will be right there to get its share of a pie that is getting bigger and bigger.


‘Recently, Rhett & Link shot a music video, titled “Epic Rap Battle of Manliness” (above), that is filled with props like chainsaws, jackhammers, box-cutters, and screwdrivers—all provided by a sponsor,, thanked on-camera.’

Felix Gillette, Bloomberg Businessweek


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