If you were online this year you were probably watching something on YouTube. According to ComScore the video streaming site is used by over 96 per cent of online adults each month, with the average person viewing 46 minutes worth of videos. And can you blame us? In 2020, we’ve relied more than ever on the entertainment, creativity, information and support of its creators. That’s why YouTube have announced The Rise – a celebration of the best British creative talent on the platform.
The idea behind The Rise is simple: 10 of YouTube’s pioneering big-name creatives have picked 10 of their favourite, up-and-coming creators. The list of top stars includes the nation’s personal trainer Joe Wicks MBE, YouTube megastar KSI, comedic star Daniel Howell and inventor Colin Furze, as well as Arsenal Fan TV’s Robbie Lyle, GRM Daily founder Posty, “pub quiz” host Jay Flynn MBE, mum and gamer Yasmin Uddin (AKA Yammy), superstar choreographer Sherrie Silver and lifestyle blogger Dina Tokio.
They’ve picked a roster of exciting new names: Superdad and fitness coach Gabriel Sey, entertainer Yung Filly, LGBTQ+ advocate Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, Ruth Amos and Shawn Brown (the creators behind Kids Invent Stuff); alongside Spurs superfan Expressions Oozing, rapper Meekz Manny, Jack Edwards (founder of educational collective The StudyTube Project), family vlogger SJ Strum, Afro Dance legend A‑Star, and educator Dr Amina Yonis.
So how did some of the biggest stars on YouTube decide who to name as the future of the platform?
COMEDY & MUSIC
In the UK, one name is synonymous with YouTube above most others: KSI. The creator, rapper, actor, and boxer, has become a pop-culture heavyweight through the platform – something his astounding 22 million subscribers would be sure to back up.
His pick for The Rise is Yung Filly – a similarly versatile creator, whose videos join the dots between entertainment, comedy and music. “Yung Filly is an absolute legend,” KSI says, “he’s funny, talented and has got big things ahead of him.”
Yung Filly, for his part, has nothing but praise for KSI. “He is THE YouTube pioneer and has led the way for many of us to follow,” he explains. “His ambition to not just stick to one lane in life is something that defines YouTube and myself.”
It’s a feeling KSI shares: “YouTube has levelled the playing field so that anyone – whatever their background – can be heard. I think it’s great that we’re shining a spotlight on the new talent to watch.”
In a year of worldwide lockdowns, movement has felt more valuable than ever. Perhaps that’s why it feels so important to recognise the groundbreaking dancers creating on YouTube.
Sherrie Silver’s YouTube journey has seen her grow from uploading her own dance videos, all the way to choreographing the groundbreaking Afrobeats movement in Childish Gambino’s This Is America. She knows what it takes to go from a handful of views to a view from the top, and she thinks Afro Dance King A‑Star, whose song Kupe Dance sparked its own global viral challenge, is the one to watch it.
“I’ve been a big fan of his music and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that he’s becoming a spotlight for the dance world,” Sherrie says. “Embracing our African heritage through dance shows that creativity comes from passion, and I’m proud to inspire others in kind.”
A‑Star wasted no time in recognising his Sherrie’s contribution. “I admire what she has done in bringing Afro Dance to a broad audience around the world. I’m honoured she named me for The Rise, and we’ve already been talking about the exciting collabs that will come off the back of this.”
Music channel GRM Daily is one of YouTube’s great success stories. And safe to say, the contemporary British music landscape would be a very different place without it. As the channel’s founder, Posty, puts it: “From day one YouTube allowed us to make content that we are passionate about and to grow a community of passionate artists on the cutting edge of Black British music.”
His pick for the future is emerging rapper Meekz Manny. “I’m no stranger to breaking new artists, and it’s clear to me that Meekz has got something special,” Posty explains. “His music, his look, everything. This guy is going places, quick.”
For Meekz, getting name-checked by Posty for The Rise is big news. “It means a lot knowing that someone who’s been around for so long, and worked with almost every single upcoming artist to come through the UK scene, at a high level has selected me,” he says. “I want to thank GRM Daily for being so supportive of my releases, and also for creating a worldwide platform that has changed the lives of many people.”
MUSLIM LIFE AND STYLE
Stylist, designer, and proud Muslim woman Dina Tokio has made it her mission to inspire others through her YouTube channel. It’s an aspiration she recognises in her pick for The Rise: academic and rising online-star Dr Amina Yonis.
“I know that being a Muslim woman can be hard, but it’s so important to be heard and push for equality,” Dina explains. “My religion is a core part of who I am, and I chose Dr Amina to partner with on The Rise because I think she is a growing and important voice for Muslim women in the UK.”
Dr Amina hopes her nomination is a sign of things to come: “To be chosen by Dina for The Rise really demonstrates the desire that she and YouTube have to help diverse creative talent from the UK thrive on the platform.”
However you look at it, YouTube is setting up creators to win. From online stars who’ve become household names, to the new talent breaking through, 2020 has been a year where video mattered. The future is looking bright.