What have PSY of ‘Gangnam style’, Justin Bieber and ‘Baby’, Carly Rae Jepsen of ‘Call Me Maybe’ and Bury St Edmunds’ Steve Roberts got in common?
No, not an annoyingly memorable song, but as a result of the popular social media site YouTube, all have become Internet sensations in the last few years , with millions worldwide viewing their videos.
It is a surreal comparison for the 31-year-old but after racking up 180,646 subscribers and 47,140,634 views on his personal channel (at time of print) his place among those named is more than justified.
A football coach to local youngsters for 11 years, Roberts decided to turn to YouTube as a way of keeping in contact with his players and allow them to learn away from his STR Skill School sessions, with a mixture of freestyle skill videos and training tips.
“In August 2009 there was interest in one of my videos and I got my first 1,000 views and that’s when I knew there was something in it,” he said.
“Originally I set out the channel as just a bit of fun once a week to enable my players to check the videos and teach the children out of sessions.
“Then I started getting messages from around the world and things just started taking off.”
His growing reputation and popularity soon saw Roberts invited to take part in ventures and advertisements with various national organisations.
From producing content for TalkSport and receiving a personal invitation to the newly-established home of English football, St George’s Park, from David Sheepshanks, Roberts also filmed throughout last year’s London Olympic Games and was even part of a panel alongside Manchester City and media firm IMG to pass on his expertise, all allowing him to turn his ‘bit of fun’ into a full-time occupation last month.
“It has been an absolutely amazing experience,” he added.
“Filming at the Olympics was amazing, we had free tickets to events and filmed all around the park itself.
“I’m filming with some Scottish Premier League players soon and then travelling to Atletico Madrid, which is massive for me because I am granted access to the stadium and facilities.
“Being able to go full-time is amazing and is a really exciting opportunity for myself.
“It has all been a bit overwhelming if I’m honest, I’ve waited and worked hard for a long time and so to reach a world audience is truly amazing.
“My next ambition is to have professionals included in my videos and reach the one-million-subscribers-mark, in the next few years I believe that is achievable.”
The world of YouTube has grown dramatically since it’s launch in 2005, displaying and showcasing a wide variety of user-generated video content, including movie clips, TV clips, and music videos, as well as amateur content such as video blogging, short original videos, and educational videos.
Since then, various personal channels have emerged with people taking advantage of the platform to reach a wide audiences.
One such person is 22-year-old Jamal Edwards, founder of SBTV, the country’s leading online youth broadcaster, which provides original music-based content and gives young people an opportunity to voice their concerns.
With close connections to Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, Edwards has given Roberts a clear inspiration to follow and evolve his own site with the former Bury Town academy player adamant that the future of such sites will play a major role for young people.
“Rather than just skill videos I want evolve the site to include fitness tips, tutorials, even fashion, sort of what makes a complete player,” he added.
“I’ve have worked with SBTV, who contacted me which was amazing because they are a huge channel on YouTube.
“Jemal Edwards has done amazingly well out of his channel and has been a major force in the YouTube and youth movement and so for him to notice me is great.
“Kids and teenagers know YouTube and will relate to things on there more than other places, I believe it will play an even bigger role in the future in the media.
“If it was made like an on-demand service, there could original programming because I believe for most they want convenience.
“I don’t think it will replace television but I certainly feel it could equal it and play a major role in the future, which is fantastic for me.”
n You can check out Steve Robert’s STR Skill School channel by visiting http://www.youtube.com/strskillschool.