The internet's most recognisable teens are raking in $20m this summer but they still have one big complaint

Hayes grier digifestGetty Images/Anna WebberHayes Grier performs at a DigiTour stop in New York City.

Seven teenage Vine and YouTube stars are touring the country and performing to sold-out, screaming crowds of thousands — but the kids still don’t think they’re famous. 

“[When] you can go somewhere and every single person is like, ‘Whoa, that’s him’ —  then
 you’re famous,” Jonah Marais told BuzzFeed’s Ellen Cushing, who followed the teens along the 18-city DigiTour route. 

Tell that to the super-fans who have figured out Marais’ address and showed up at his family’s house uninvited.

 

 

In fact, “Marais” isn’t even Jonah’s real surname, BuzzFeed reports. His parents made him start using a stage name after the unwanted visits became too much. 

Marais’ castmate Tez Mengestu also doesn’t feel he has achieved celebrity status, but an elevated form of the social media popularity sought by many teenagers.

 “Famous is like walking down the red carpet at the Grammys,” Mengestu told BuzzFeed. “I have followers on social media.” 

Yes, he does have followers on social media — so many, in fact, that his fans are known to “skip school for DigiTour, cash in their allowances for DigiTour, beg their parents to drive them hours from the suburbs to be at DigiTour,” BuzzFeed reports.

 

 

 It’s a bit of a skewed perception, given that the average teenager doesn’t have 30,000 followers on Vine and 120,000 followers on Instagram like Mengestu does. 

Collectively, the seven teenagers have been watched by millions of people across social media platforms. Hayes Grier’s Vine following is 3.9 million strong, 95 thousand people keep up with Marais on Instagram, and Alec Bailey’s Vines have been looped over 140 million times.

These views have also translated into a lucrative business. Companies will pay up to $US100,000 to be featured in one of their six-second clips on Vine, BuzzFeed reports. Industry estimates put the revenue from DigiTour at about $US20 million.

Despite all the money and attention, they “prefer the term ‘known,'” BuzzFeed explains. The teenagers seem to crave a level of acknowledgment that goes beyond the millions of young girls and mums who construct the bulk of their fan base. 

The DigiTour kids aren’t the only social media celebrities to publicly deny their fame. “I still honestly don’t consider myself to be famous,” Bethany Mota, a YouTube vlogger with almost 9 million followers, told Cosmopolitan in June

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