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Wanted: online superstar |

Young Star

Wanted: online superstar

Micah Levin Isla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  “Dream, believe, survive,” said the now-defunct celebrity search on local TV that made waves in the early 2000s. In the show, a group of young hopefuls had to submit themselves to challenges and “judgment” on national television (and not to mention, endure the inevitable teenage drama) for a shot at stardom — a process so laborious and a method suddenly archaic now that overnight fame can possibly be just a YouTube video away. Written, produced, and directed by you — minimum investment, maximum return.

Recently, Smart teamed up with YouTube and Samsung to keep this new path open and very accessible to young Filipino potentials, complete with a new slogan that resonates more with the zeitgeist of today’s multi-screen generation: “Discover, channel, and broadcast.”

“We believe that our country is packed with different and unique talents, so we want to encourage our subscribers to express themselves freely and show these talents through videos,” said Katrina Luna-Abelarde, Head of Wireless Consumer Operations for Smart, during the launch of the first Upload Station at SM Megamall last weekend.

Break barriers, conquer the world

The team is on a mission to grow the ecosystem of Pinoy YouTubers by removing barriers, one of which is slow internet connection.

Every Smart Launchpad Upload Station is a fully equipped, multi-studio installation — a playground to aspiring online sensations. There’s a chamber for every kind of YouTuber conceivable, like a makeup room for the next Michelle Phan or a music booth where people can record their covers ala Karmin. After discovering your passion and channeling your creativity via the Samsung gadgets provided, broadcast your masterpiece right there and then with the help of Smart’s new super speed connection.

One hundred subscribers who have uploaded their videos to YouTube will be chosen to attend workshops helmed by industry experts, and the three best content creators will fly to Los Angeles to meet up with global YouTube personalities and learn the tricks of the trade from the best.

YouTube, with its 1.3 billion users, has an outstanding track record in propelling everyday people into megastars, case in point (and lest we forget): Justin Bieber. The star-making website has also paved the way for Filipino discoveries Charice Pempengco and Arnel Pineda. YouTube is also home to the likes of Ryan Higa (whose channel has almost 18 million subscribers) and comedic vlogger PewDiePie, who has been enjoying international prominence with 50 million followers and a book deal to boot, which by the way, got a Goodreads rating of 4/5. We also have our own YouTube prides like Bogart the Explorer and Michael Josh Villanueva who were both present at the event.





Authenticity is key

Michael, 35, started YouTube-ing more than a decade ago, back when “YouTubers” weren’t really ubiquitous. He shared how faster and stronger internet connection in the country has helped the whole community — his own channel included — grow and reshape the landscape.

“My videos on GadgetMatch right now are anywhere between 500 megabytes to a gigabyte, it would take me forever to upload if not for the enhanced quality of connection available to us these days,” he said jovially.

When asked what makes for good content, the tech-savvy netizen said that authenticity is always a great start.

“Good content is something that you’re passionate about, and then tell your story in a language that can be understood by anyone who will chance upon your video. I talk about technology a lot, but I always consider my non-techie viewers,” he explained.

Michael also confessed to being inspired by Canadian YouTuber Amber MacArthur — who then was just using the built-in camera of her laptop — and then one day he just felt the urge to put up his own channel. Michael ran to Quiapo to get a professional camera with a burning resolve: dive into the world of videos (without even knowing how to properly create one).

“That’s the first stop — just get started. Do it repeatedly and you will learn and improve your craft. I learned to edit my own videos and even make graphics over time,” he exclaimed.

Bear in mind, on YouTube, you’re not just a news anchor speaking in front of a TV camera. “It’s all about connecting with your audience, pulling them into the conversation and have them leave a comment or maybe influence your following move. What do they want me to feature next?” he added.

With 5 billion videos being watched every single day, does he think there will be a saturation point?

“There’s room for everybody in it, and we’ve only just begun. There’s so much content and people will go look for it, whatever it is,” Michael concluded.

It’s out. The new-age search for the next superstar doesn’t require you to stand in line, audition, and be scrutinized through a voyeuristic lens ala Big Brother. All you need is a gadget, Smart’s strong internet connection, and a mental note: Get started.

For more details on the Launchpad Upload Stations, full schedule and mechanics, visit:

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