We had a chance to chat with Alex to learn how he got started on YouTube, his production process and what makes his blend of animation and movie commentary so successful.
Video Views: 369,752,047
Channel Type: Entertainment
User Created: Jul 9th, 2015
How Alex Meyers got started
Before YouTube, Alex worked in IT. His corporate job at a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo didn’t live up to his expectations. “After a few months, I just realized it was really boring and unfulfilling,” Alex tells us. Growing up, Alex always thought of himself as a creative person, so he started looking for ways to be creative in his free time. Alex looked at what other creators were doing at the time and thought to himself, “I can probably figure this out.”
At first, making videos for the Alex Meyers channel was just a hobby — a way to compensate for a lackluster day job. “My full-time job was fine, and it paid the bills I guess,” Alex recalls. But making YouTube videos offered a different experience: “You stumble on something and you’re like, ‘Oh, this is what I actually like to do.’”
Alex has been doing YouTube full-time since 2018. The turning point came, as it does for many creators, when his income from YouTube started to outweigh his full-time paycheck. So, Alex thought, “Well, I guess I should just quit and focus on [YouTube] then.”
At first, Alex struggled to find an audience. His Let’s Plays fell flat, and no one watched his skits. “My videos were getting like 12 views, 20 views — maybe,” Alex says. He switched gears to gaming news and Nintendo rumors, which earned him a slightly bigger audience.
Eventually, he was convinced his channel would never gain traction. “But what I can do,” Alex thought, “is use my YouTube videos as, like, an excuse to learn marketable skills.” He started to focus on improving his editing and learning how to do special effects and motion graphics. He started to see success with motion graphic video essays, but the Alex Meyers YouTube channel still served mainly as a demo reel.
The success of his video essays helped expand his audience, but that growth was starting to plateau. Around the same time, storytime animation was beginning to pick up steam on YouTube. Alex, already interested in buffing his animation skillset, saw an opportunity. He thought to himself, “Okay, maybe I could teach myself how to do this.” He settled on making video essays that incorporated the storytime animation aesthetic.
Finding a niche
Alex started simple. “If you ever go back and watch my very first ‘Riverdale is a Mess’ video, I mean it’s literal stick figures — but that was the one that made me get famous, so there you go.” That’s not what Alex was expecting at all prior to posting. In fact, he originally thought his viewers would hate the new format. “I just wanted to get it out because I’d worked so hard on it,” Alex tells us. “And then I put it out — I don’t want to use the term overnight success, but I mean it kind of was.”
Suddenly, Alex went from getting maybe 20,000 views on a video to getting hundreds of thousands. After a bit more experimentation, Alex Meyers found a format that was both popular with viewers and enjoyable to make.
Alex says finding and sticking to a niche — animated video essays on teen dramas — was key to helping his content find a loyal audience. The audience was underserved at the time, and his authentic interest, along with a more mature perspective, made his content especially appealing to viewers hungry for this kind of commentary.
“I think I kind of — just by luck really,” Alex says, “struck gold in that my interest in teen dramas aligned with a lot of other people’s interest in teen dramas.” He emphasizes that it’s important to understand not only which TV shows and movies will attract interest but why. The only way to do this is to listen to your audience.
The production process
Once Alex has a show or movie in mind, he’ll sit down to watch it straight through with his girlfriend. After this initial viewing, he writes a script, highlighting any scenes or jokes he wants to include. The animation process is quite time-consuming, so he keeps his scripts short — around 1500 words for TV shows and 2500 words for movies.
With script in hand, Alex spends the next day recording audio. After that, he starts adding the different visual components. He pulls relevant clips and drops in the different versions of his animated avatar. Videos usually include at least one animated skit, and Alex animates these more demanding scenes last.
Once the major components are in place, Alex adds details like hair and backgrounds. Towards the end of the process, he finishes up any extra effects. He then works on the soundtrack to take care of any potential copyright issues. Finally, the video is ready for upload.
All said, it usually takes around four days for Alex to finish a TV-focused video. Videos about movies tend to be longer, so these take up to a full week to complete.
Animation takes a while. Just adding hair to Alex’s animated characters can take hours. “Almost all the hair that you see is a completely separate thing,” Alex reveals. “Every frame, I have to, like, do hair — that matches the angle and matches what direction [the character is] facing … so that can take a long time sometimes.”
Adding hair frame by frame at the end may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s all part of a larger strategy. Alex keeps his animated characters bald so that they are easier to recycle into new characters as needed. Having a library of premade animations lets him tackle more complex scenes when he needs to. To keep recycled animations looking fresh, Alex makes sure to use old animations in new situations.
Even with the library of assets he has built up over the years, Alex still draws around 30-50 new drawings per video. “Sometimes it’s obvious when it’s new and sometimes it’s not,” Alex explains. Though he keeps to a tight production schedule, Alex is always looking for opportunities to practice his skills. He aims to grow as an animator with every video.
Keeping his scripts short and recycling existing assets allows Alex to post around three to four videos per month — a tight turnaround for any animation channel. “Most other animators on YouTube … you know, they have a team of five to ten people who they work with, and they put out videos every month or two,” Alex notes, “because animation takes a long time.” Since Alex works alone and often talks about newly-released media in his videos, he can’t wait a month or more between uploads: “I gotta get it out within a week or two, at least.”
A quick copyright tip
Early on, copyright claims plagued the Alex Meyers channel. Since Alex makes most of his income through AdSense, his livelihood was at risk with every new post. “Even if I appealed, they would still uphold it,” Alex says, “even though it’s obviously fair use.” After a few years, the copyright claims shifted focus. “I stopped getting claimed for the movies and TV shows themselves, but I would get claimed for the music,” says Alex.
Despite his content being protected under fair use, Alex continued to struggle with copyright claims on his channel. “If I decided to take the company claiming it … all the way to court, I would probably win,” Alex says uncertainly, “but I just don’t have the time, or like, mental capacity to do that.” He had to find another solution or continue losing revenue.
He found that solution in an AI technology originally built to pull out stems from music tracks. These services let you put in a normal song and, for example, separate the vocals from the music bed to create a version for karaoke night. Alex uses the same tool to strip music from movie clips while leaving behind the dialogue. He even goes so far as to remove sound effects and ambiance, which can also sometimes get claimed. This can make the scene feel a bit empty, so to compensate, Alex replaces the original soundtrack with similar royalty-free music and sound effects. So far, this has been an effective way to prevent copyright strikes.
“Since I started doing this music extraction process,” Alex says, “I’ve done Harry Potter and I’ve done some very iconic shows and movies, and I’ve never been claimed for anything, ever.” That security is more than worth the extra effort involved.
Maintaining the Alex Meyers channel
Alex is happy with his success so far, though he hints that the Alex Meyers channel may have reached another plateau. After all, his content targets a narrow audience — “a niche within a niche,” as Alex says. On top of that, he doesn’t experience the parasocial attachment audiences sometimes develop towards other creators; he avoids showing his face on camera, and he rarely shares personal details. He believes this further limits his audience and also explains why his merch sales account for such a small portion of his income.
Regardless, Alex plans to continue taking a critical eye to teen dramas long into the future. “People will always be interested in movies and TV shows,” Alex remarks, “and so making content about them in the way that I do I feel like will always kind of be relevant to someone.” Later, he adds, “There’s always gonna be movies and TV shows; there’s always gonna be cheesy teen dramas”
And for the times he wants to talk about something else, his podcast, Doin’ The Devil’s Tango, gives him that space without overwhelming his schedule.
As our conversation came to a close, Alex had some advice for aspiring creators:
“You sort of have to combine seemingly unrelated genres — mine is like, animation but then also movie commentary.” Alex points to the many examples of successful storytime animators and movie critics. He explains, “combining them together, in the beginning, helped me grow — a lot — because it was something that no one had really seen before.”
Alex concludes, “If you’re just going to be just another makeup artist or just another vlogger, then I don’t think you’re going to go very far.” For Alex Meyers, it’s his unique approach to media commentary that keeps bringing in the views.