If you are a fan of online video, chances are you’ve heard of VidCon.
VidCon is an annual convention surrounding the world of online video. First started in 2010 by the innovative minds behind the VlogBrothers, Hank and John Green, VidCon has continued to grow from an in-person meet up to full on convention with panels, expo halls, celebrity guests and more.
Whether you wish you could have attended VidCon 2017 or you’re considering making the trip out to Anaheim for VidCon 2018, here is a rundown of VidCon’s past, present and potential future.
A Brief History of VidCon
From its inception, VidCon has always been about bringing the community of online video — creators and fans alike — to life. From his announcement video back in 2009, Hank states, “…I decided that we were really interested in the possibility of getting a real-life online video conference happening in order to get all of the best online video creators together in the same place and the communities that support those groups in order to get like an entire epic gigantic weekend of fun and growing the community and doing awesome things.”
Making its debut in the summer of 2010, VidCon was a modest event with 1400 people in attendance held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
Much like the model of Comic Con and other media conventions, VidCon has always had a lineup of Featured Creators to add to the value of being at the convention in person. Featured Creators are often prominent figures in the online video community who have made plans to contribute to the programming of VidCon, such as speak on panels, participate in meet & greets or provide performances throughout the event.
In 2014, the badges system of passes was introduced allowing attendees to choose which programming track they wanted to attend. Community Track featured largely online community oriented events including access to main stage performances and panels, whereas the Industry Track focused more on content geared towards industry professionals looking to bridge the gap between traditional and online digital media. In 2015, the Creator Track was introduced to give creators access to panels and meetups specific to bettering their craft as online video creators. After all, these are the people who contribute to the one billion hours of video watched daily.
“When we started VidCon in 2010, the line between fan and creator was a lot blurrier. In fact, the conference was mostly designed for people who were in that blur. Indeed, all creators are also fans of someone,” states VidCon.com.Much like the world of online video since 2010, VidCon has changed a lot over the years.
Back in 2010 YouTube was the only big game in town when it came to building an online video audience, but now with the presence of Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram video, Twitch and more, more emerging creators from non-YouTube platforms are making a stronger presence in the programming of the event.
After eight years, VidCon has continued to grow with the industry of online video. The evolution of the track system has provided more opportunities for attendees to engage, get equipped with information and be entertained in new ways.
VidCon 2017 was also the largest programming the convention has seen to date. With the different tracks Community, Creator, and Industry, the VidCon experience is unique to each attendee.
In the earlier years, the programming was more cohesive, seeking to give attendees a more unified experience. Main stage performances allowed for everyone to gather together to see acts from prominent online musicians and entertainers and then go into breakout sessions, meet & greets or the floor of the expo hall.
This year, with the presence of multiple stages with competing performances and programming going on, it was easy to miss out.
The Community Track, which is open to Creator and Industry badge holders as well, saw several celebrity performances including Jason Derulo and other Top YouTube Performers, as well as Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and the rest of the cast from the Pitch Perfect movies to premiere the trailer of Pitch Perfect 3.
The Creator Track featured a multitude of opportunities to meet and connect with fellow creators. Not only were there several genre specific networking sessions scheduled for creators, they also introduced the Creator Chat Lottery, where creators could win a an in-person chat with a Featured Creator of their choice — an awesome opportunity to learn from someone you admire.
With the world of online video being more established than it was in 2010, the Industry Track featured multiple panels and hands-on workshops about growing online video and how to tell compelling stories through different platforms — such as Snapchat and Instagram — as well as how to reach more people through live streaming. As the world of online video continues to grow, the Industry Track continues to educate industry professionals with a more analytical look at online video.
Managing non-scheduled Creator stunts has emerged as one of the challenges for VidCon organizers. Because YouTube is such an open platform with so many famous creators across the world, it’s hard to regulate all of the programming for the event. Often times, creators will have impromptu meet & greets where fans can meet up with their favorite creator somewhere on the grounds of the Anaheim convention center. These have previously been small to large crowds, but VidCon 2017 saw something unlike any previous VidCon.
Logan Paul, a well-known Vine-turned-YouTube Star, held a scavenger hunt where he hid $3,000 on the premises of VidCon. Upon finding the winner, he showed up in person to offer his congratulations. Once spotted, massive droves of fans started crowding around and chasing after Logan to the point where he had to be escorted by security inside the convention to try to calm the crowds.
A big selling point to VidCon is that is allows fans a chance to see their favorite online creators in person. This is why VidCon has a series of Featured Creators in attendance to draw crowds who want to make that in-person connection.
Even though over 300 Featured Creators were in attendance at VidCon, that doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of all the talented and well-known creators in online video.
“It’s always been really hard for us to draw the line between an attendee and a guest. But we have to draw it somewhere, so it’s entirely possible that your favorite creator is coming to VidCon but isn’t officially participating in our programming. That’s the beauty of the online video community!”
Not every well-known creator online receives the Feature Creator status. For instance, in another incident this at this year’s convention, one self-proclaimed “famous” Instagram model demanded access into the convention hall even though he did not register for the events. His subsequent outrage on being denied was based largely on the idea that he is famous online and therefore should have been allowed to enter the convention center as a Featured Creator. As video of the incident shows, this caused some conflict between the VidCon security staff and the creator in question.
Though VidCon makes it very clear on their website that not every famous online creator will receive Feature Creator status, it’s something that is going to become more of a problem with different video platforms continuing to emerge.
VidCon is the mecca of online video conventions. As it continues to grow with attendee’s VidCon will continue to evolve to better connect and meet its initial goal of bringing together fans and creators of online video. With the expansion of international VidCons in Australia and Europe, there seems to be no signs of stopping for the reach of this convention. If you’re thinking of attending VidCon in the future to connect with an online community or a chance to meet with one of your favorite online video creators, there are multiple tracks to choose from and more ways than ever to get connected.
Sidebar: VidCon Abroad
The 8th Annual VidCon also marked the 1st Annual VidCons to be held outside of the United States. 2017 marked the premiere of VidCon Europe, which was held in Amsterdam, and Vidcon Australia in Melbourne. Going international is a huge step for VidCon. The reach that online video has is much larger than the United States and many popular VidCon Featured Creators are from overseas. According to YouTube, “On average, two-thirds of a channel’s views come from outside the creator’s home country.”
A representative of the Amsterdam Convention Centre states, “We strongly believe that events like VidCon are an important part of the future of events: innovative face to face gatherings with a strong focus on content as well as technology. With strong cooperation between Amsterdam’s local government and its business and service sectors, we are highly committed to making VidCon Europe a resounding success.”
The international VidCons feature creators from both the US and from abroad, although at an admittedly smaller scale of 62 Featured Creators at VidCon Europe. VidCon does it’s best to represent a diversity of creators and creations at its conventions, and going international is massive step in that direction. As Hank Green states, “The growth of online video, and the ability for creators like myself to have such enjoyable careers, is due to a passionate and engaged community that is truly global.”