JoJo who? Meet the YouTube stars raking in millions
JoJo Siwa is bringing her giant bows to Dublin next month, and if you've no idea who she is, your kids certainly do. She's not the only internet sensation leaving parents bemused, writes Ed Power a closer look at the internet heroes your kids adore
JoJo Siwa is coming to Ireland and excitement is at fever pitch. At least it is among JoJo's vast fanbase of preteen girls, who have snapped up tickets for her early November shows at 3Arena Dublin.
Yet to everyone else, JoJo ranks as a no-no for name recognition. She could walk into your house and make you wear one of her trademark oversized bows, and you'd still have no idea who she was, much less why she was menacing you with a huge glittering hair accessory.
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The 16-year-old American is a member of the YouTube A-list. As with the majority of her peers she is simultaneously super-famous and completely obscure. She also earns huge sums. Siwa's net-worth is estimated in the region of €9 million. By the time her sell-out world tour has concluded, expect that figure to have climbed considerably.
Siwa lives in Los Angeles. But geography is no barrier to YouTube glory. Ballycumber, county Offaly native Seán McLoughlin - aka Jacksepticeye - has built a media empire from his bedroom. He has 22 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, where he goofily narrates video game sessions. That's serious box office, which is why his annual earnings are estimated in the region of $16 million.
McLoughlin, now based in Brighton, could in other words probably buy his entire home town faster than it takes to shoot someone in the face playing Fortnite. As parents count down to bringing their cherubs to JoJo - don't worry, it will pass quicker than you expect - here's a guide to the biggest YouTubers you've never heard of.
She's just a year younger than Electric Picnic headliner Billie Eilish yet dresses as if she's only recently learned how to tie her shoelaces. That's to appeal to her preteen fans, who turned her JoJo Bows into a schoolyard sensation. She describes these over-sized adornments as "a symbol of power, confidence, believing-ness". Not everyone agrees - in 2017 they were banned in the UK schools because kids kept fighting over them.
Siwa may be fresh-faced, but she is far from an overnight phenomenon. When JoJo was nine her mother put her forward for a part in the Lifetime Channel reality series, Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition. Later, mother and daughter were cast in another reality show, Dance Moms. That lit the fuse and she has gone on to blockbuster popularity on YouTube, where she has 10.2 million subscribers .
There has been controversy along the way - she was accused of duping her fans when she told them her father had been run over by a car (he had not). And mother Jessalyn was criticised after revealing she began bleaching JoJo's hair when her daughter was two. The real imponderable though is for how much longer Siwa can continue to present herself as if she's just about to start her first day at school.
"I think it's important because kids need to stay kids," she has said of her preteen image. "Kids don't need to grow up as they think maybe they should. Or as they think they want to. You know, you only live your childhood once. You only live every age once. You only live your life once."
Irish celebs often dial down their accents when they go international. But keeping it country has worked a charm for Offaly's Jacksepticeye. His Midlands cadences - with just a hint of a twang - have catapulted him to the very top of the YouTube food chain. Yes, he sounds like a regional drivetime DJ bigging up the new Coronas single. But global audiences can't get enough: a recent video in which he played Minecraft while making it clear he had no idea what he was doing drew 5.8 million views. And a video in which he "laughed for 12 minutes straight" garnered 1.8 million. With an estimated net worth of €8.1 million he's literally chuckling all the way to the wherever it is rich YouTubers stash their cash.
Seven-year-old Ryan (his second name is a mystery) earned €20 million with his toy-themed YouTube channel last year. Essentially it's a Gen Z remix of the Late Late Toy Show, with Ryan Tubridy replaced by a chatty seven-year-old (coincidentally replacing Ryan Tubridy with a chatty seven-year-old is also rumoured to be part of RTÉ's new cost-cutting strategy). One of his most watched videos yet saw him playing with a bouncy house. How much did your seven-year-old earn last year? Remind them of this the next time they refuse to finish supper.
"A mash-up of personal vlog and 'unboxing' video, a blend of innocent childhood antics and relentless, often overwhelming consumerism," is how Ryan's channel was described by website The Verge. With 32 billion YouTube views to date, Ryan is unlikely to care what critics think.
With 36 million subscribers and annual earnings of €18.2 million, this five-man "sports crew" could probably construct a life-sized igloo out of cash if they really wanted to. They specialise in elaborate trick shots - often involving ping-pong balls. One of their most popular videos features a man in a backwards pointing baseball cap chucking a bottle at a trampoline and then high-fiving himself when it bounces back and lands perfectly. Truly, we are living through the end of days.
Teen rapper Matthew Morris has earned millions with his cuddly covers of popular rap songs. He removes all the swearing - apparently that hippity-hopitty music is quite fond of naughty words - and adds lashings of early Justin Bieber adorability. Can 12.6 million subscribers be wrong? Well yes - that's why Coldplay have sold so many records. But Matty isn't complaining: not with an estimated net worth of €2.7 million. He has featured guests such as Vanilla Ice on his channel. And in 2016 published his first volume of autobiography.
Ryan, the all-powerful toy reviewer and potential Ryan Tubridy replacement (let's start a petition), has competition in eight-year-old Korean girl Boram. Her toy channel has 13.6 million subscribers while her video blog boasts 17.6 million. One of her most popular clips sees Boram making instant noodles. It attracted over 376 million views . Clearly all those clicks are lucrative - earlier this year, she purchased an €7.2 million property in Seoul's exclusive Gangnam district. In a recent video she travels from her home to Saipan in Japan for a wacky adventure - just like Roy Keane all those years ago.
Jimmy Donaldson has rocketed into the YouTube big-league with his viral vids. These bear titles such as "Counting to 100,000 in One Video" and "Last To Remove Hand, Gets Lamborghini Challenge". He also "pranks" unsuspecting members of the public by handing them huge sums of money. Was he inspired by Mr Beast, the 2007 album by Scottish post-rock collective Mogwai? Let us pretend that he was.
Vlad and Nikita
The kiddie wars are heating up. The veteran Ryan (seven) and Boram (eight) should watch over their shoulder for up-and-coming brothers Vlad (six) and Nikita (four). Their channel features the siblings playing with toys and having "daily adventures". One website estimates their net monthly revenues at €1 million.
Like Nastya Vlog
Nastya's real name is Stacy. She's a Russian-American five-year-old living in Florida who plays with toys and, with her parents, "goes on adventures". With 31 million subscribers, the formula is evidently lucrative. Her channel is the 47th most watched on YouTube. By the time she is old enough to understand the concept of money, Stacy will already be a millionaire.
Thirteen-year-old Evan has built a fanbase of more than four million with his toy reviews, challenge videos and science experiments, in which sister Jillian and father Jared often feature. For his troubles he is rumoured to earn €1.1 million annually. His family has withheld his second name for privacy reasons. What we do know is that he has a net worth in the millions.