YouTube has exploded since it first launched in 2005, becoming the de-facto launchpad for the next generation of celebrities.
We did the maths and found YouTube’s 20 biggest independent stars based on total all-time views.
While some of the names may be expected for YouTube aficionados (big comedy stars like Jenna Marbles and Ray William Johnson come to mind), there were just as many unknowns, who are building absolutely huge fan bases around niche formats like video game commentating and unwrapping toys.
There’s no doubt that amongst teens and tweens, these are the new celebrities.
1.38 billion total views.
2.77 million total subscribers.
24-year-old James Wilson, Jr., better known as UberHaxorNova, is an extremely popular video-game commentator, who mainly uploads videos of himself playing Grand Theft Auto V, Minecraft, and the Sims 4. He's known -- and loved by his fans -- for his inappropriate gags and his wild emotions. He also produces funny, irreverent animated videos.
In the following video, his most viewed, he flips out for nearly a minute after a fellow player 'broke the rules' in Minecraft. It's a taste of Wilson's wild persona.
1.52 billion total views.
19.93 million total subscribers.
German Garmendia is a 23-year-old Chilean YouTuber who makes comedy videos aimed at a Spanish-speaking audience. He first became famous with Las Cosas Obvias De La Vida (The Obvious Things of Life). He was second only to top YouTuber PewDiePie in adding subscribers in 2013.
1.56 billion total views.
9.52 million total subscribers.
VanossGaming is one of the fastest growing YouTube channels around these days. While not much is known about Vanoss, he posts comedy videos of him playing different video games. What sets his videos apart is the quality of his editing. He frequently posts montages like this one that compress his hours of gaming into one compact video of funny moments.
1.62 billion total views.
7.46 million total subscribers.
Samuel de Luque is a wildly popular Spanish YouTuber who has become known for his voice-overs of gameplay videos for Minecraft, Saint's Row and Battlefield.
His signature style is to create elaborate narratives and histories for the characters in his video-game videos to make them 'like a movie.' His fanbase is primarily based in Spain and Latin America. He often collaborates with TheWillyRex and other popular Spanish-language YouTubers.
1.70 billion total views.
15.5 million total subscribers.
Jenna Marbles (real name: Mourey) has long been one of the most recognisable stars on YouTube. Though she initially started her career with BarStool Sports, Mourey quickly moved into video after posting 'How To Trick People Into Thinking You're Good Looking,' which quickly blew up.
She has been pegged as the model YouTube star, reportedly making as much or more than $US350,000 a year off her channel, which features comedic videos about being a young Millenial woman (some examples: 'Things Girls Lie About,' 'How To Avoid Talking To People You Don't Want To Talk To').
1.70 billion total views.
8.14 million total subscribers.
Last September, Jordan Maron became the fifth video-game commentator to hit 1 billion views. While he is well-known for his popular 'Let's Play' videos, he also makes parody music videos using Minecraft animations. He is currently signed to Maker Studios, one of the most popular multi-channel YouTube content distributors.
1.85 billion total views.
10 million total subscribers.
Madrid-native Guillermo Diaz is a Spanish video-game commentator known for his gameplay videos of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto V. He first became popular for being one of the best Call Of Duty players in Spain and has since become a full-time Internet personality after quitting school to produce videos for YouTube.
2.13 billion total views.
15.89 million total subscribers.
24-year-old Ryan Higa, who goes by the username NigaHiga, was one of the first major YouTube stars. Higa produces a variety of comedy videos, including sketches, music videos, and short commentaries on pop culture. At this point, his videos have high production values and a professional touch, but he's still just as quick, funny, and incisive as he ever was.
2.14 billion total views.
11.58 million total subscribers.
PrankvsPrank began after Jesse Wellens tricked his girlfriend into letting him film her eating a spoonful of cinnamon. The resulting video went viral, which didn't sit well with his girlfriend, Jeanna. She retaliated by filming her smacking Jesse in the head with a pan. It quickly escalated into a prank war that has catapulted the two into Internet stardom.
2.15 billion total views.
4.16 million total subscribers.
Joseph Garett is a British YouTuber that posts videos of himself playing MineCraft. In just the last year, StampyLongHead's account has jumped from 2 million subscribers to over 4 million. He's a national sensation among British teens.
2.24 billion total views.
1.25 million total subscribers.
BluCollection is a YouTube channel dedicated to opening, assembling and playing with a variety of toys. The unnamed YouTuber gives reviews of car toys, Disney toys and Play-Doh. The videos are insanely popular. This one has more than 53 million views.
2.36 billion total views.
10.57 million total subscribers.
Adam Dahlberg is a massively popular Minecraft YouTuber who originally got popular as part of a Minecraft team called Team Crafted. Like many Minecraft YouTubers, Dahlberg frequently posts gameplay videos and commentary.
2.36 billion total views.
11.18 million total subscribers.
Brooklyn natives Benny and Rafi Fine are two online producer/writer/directors who created the extremely successful React video series. In React's various iterations (Kids React, Teens React, Elders React and YouTubers React), TheFineBros show viral videos to subjects and film their reactions. The duo has been sponsored by both Ford and Comedy Central. Many consider TheFineBros to be two of the first YouTube stars.
2.76 billion total views.
10.8 million total subscribers.
Ray William Johnson is a 33-year-old YouTuber best known for his show Equals Three, during which he provides comedic commentary for viral videos. He's long been one of the most popular YouTubers, thanks to the show, which has featured huge celebrity guests like Robin Williams and Sarah Silverman. He recently stepped away from Equals Three to focus on new projects in TV and live shows. Equals Three will live on with a new host and Johnson has also continued to post life blogs from the channel.
2.86 billion total views.
7.2 million total subscribers.
BlueXephos is the main channel for the Yogscast, a group of British video-game commentators and players who produce videos primarily of Minecraft and World of Warcraft. While there are a number of other YouTubers associated with the Yogscast, BlueXephos is run by Yogscast founders Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane. BlueXephos is notable for hosting a variety of charity initiatives, including a recent drive last December that raised $US1.16 million for Oxfam, Little People UK, GamesAid, SpecialEffect, and War Child.
2.91 billion total views.
14.99 million total subscribers
Toby Turner is one of the most popular Internet comedians, having amassed a whopping 14.99 million subscribers across his three YouTube channels. He first joined in 2006, when he produced a popular parody of the Adam Sandler movie 'Click.' He has since created the popular series CuteWinFail, the YouTube equivalent of America's Funniest Home Videos, and Literal Trailers. He has begun to make the transition into traditional media, scoring roles in independent films and major advertising campaigns. Last July, Turner was signed away from gaming video giant Machinima to Maker Studios. We talked to Turner about his life and career this past summer.
3.69 billion total views.
2.81 million total subscribers.
DisneyCollectorBR is the YouTube channel of an unnamed Brazilian woman who posts videos of her opening, assembling, and playing with Disney toys, all while providing commentary in a soothing voice. It's a favourite of many children, whose parents find that they can put the videos on to calm and entertain their kids.
6.18 billion total views.
32.81 million total subscribers.
Smosh is a comedy duo consisting of YouTube veterans Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla. Smosh was one of the first YouTube sensations, becoming well-known for their slapstick comedy videos that parody video games and pop culture. The duo has shown no signs of slowing down, opening up multiple channels and an app for their content. Currently, they have eight YouTube channels producing content, all with significant views and subscribers, including Smosh, IanH, WatchUsLiveAndStuff, ElSmosh, SmoshGames and Anthony Padilla. They have also been in talks to begin airing their comedy content on television.
6.65 billion total views.
32 million total subscribers.
Felix Arvid Ulf Kjelberg is a foul-mouthed Swedish video-game commentator who has absolutely dominated YouTube over the last year. His videos feature Kjelberg playing various video games, while a box in the top corner of the screen shows his reactions to what is happening. Kjelberg has broken numerous YouTube growth records, jumping from 12M subscribers in August 2013 to over 20M in January 2014. Many attribute his success to the attention he pays to his fans. Kjelberg spends lots of time talking about his fans, answering their questions in the YouTube comments section, and forming a community of 'bros.'