Even after racking up 1 million followers on YouTube, Chris and Crawford Collins claim they’re still stunned when people see them while they’re out at the mall or a gas station or grabbing a bite to eat.
The Collins brothers are a part of the newest breed of YouTube superstars. They rack up millions and millions of views every month from mostly teen girls.They are even represented by a YouTube talent management company called Fullscreen.
The Collins brothers headlined an event we attended earlier this year. There were thousands of screaming teenagers.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have brunch with a bunch of YouTubers, including the Collins brothers. I asked all of them a lot of the same questions. I wanted to know what makes them successful (“being real” was the overwhelming and seemingly scripted answer), and I wanted to know about experiences with fans.
Here’s why! It’s pretty amazing that we have a new kind of celebrity culture for a very niche but important audience: young and impressionable girls.
While a bonafide celebrity like Taylor Swift or Beyonce could never go anywhere in the world and remain unnoticed, many of these YouTube stars can walk the streets of New York City or Los Angeles or Anywhere, USA, and blend right in. Security detail would feel ridiculously unnecessary.
But then there are some places where their fame is unavoidable.
Like at a One Direction concert.
Here’s the story Chris and Crawford Collins told me yesterday at brunch:
The brothers had gotten tickets to see One Direction (1D), whose fan base is bigger but identical to theirs: teen girls. A band called 5SOS (5 Seconds Of Summer) opened for 1D.
“Between 5SOS and 1D,” Crawford explained to me, “there was like an hour. No one was doing anything or had anything to pay attention to.”
That was when a young girl noticed the brothers and recognised them immediately. She screamed and alerted her friends and anyone within earshot. Within seconds, Chris remembers tons of girls swarming them with their iPhones, screaming and pulling on the brothers’ tee-shirts.
“It was literally insane,” Chris said. “It was the craziest thing.”
Crawford remembers the entire stadium of concert-goers had their eyes on the mob that was happening around them on the ground. Police or security guards (“like, 4 of them” but the boys can’t remember which) eventually had to rescue the brothers and escort them to a separate part of the stadium where they wouldn’t be bothered. And of course, “like anyone else over 25,” Crawford explains, the security guards had no idea who the brothers were or why the mob was happening.
When the brothers did an event for Kohl’s, the only warning fans had prior to the event was a tweet from the brothers a day before. Chris and Crawford assumed some fans would show up — “maybe a few hundred” — but when they got to the store the next day, there were 5,000 girls lining up around the building, hoping for a chance to meet the teenage superstars.
“It’s always really cool,” Crawford says, and his brother agrees. “We are always surprised by it, but we always appreciate it.”