After a full weekend of premieres and inspirational presentations, the third annual Buffer Festival in Toronto was a great success.

Celebrating creativity, Buffer Festival highlights some of YouTube’s biggest video bloggers and content creators in a series of premieres that takes place on a stretch of Front Street in downtown, Toronto. This year’s event focused on a variety of styles and categories of video, including travel, fashion, music, education and comedy. We had the opportunity to check out some amazing exhibits and also caught up with the stars to learn about how they got involved in YouTube and what inspires them to constantly innovate in content creation.

It’s no secret that with the right amount of viewers, some of these personalities have pursued full time careers through YouTube content creation. Toby Turner is among some of the YouTubers that fall under this category.

“In theory, I knew that if I could get enough views, eventually a company would pay me to do sponsored content. I started by making sketch comedy videos that were about products anyway. I don’t need a lot of money; sometimes I would do a sponsored video for about a thousand dollars and that would cover my rent for the month – so I knew I could do this. I like making comedic content, but also talk about the products in a serious matter,” he told us.

YouTube has been around for roughly a decade and in that period of time it’s gone through many changes, both cultural and technological. Davey Wavey has been around since 2006 and has seen the platform change over the years.

“A lot has changed since I started; when I began making videos, I would just turn the webcam on then shoot the video, but now there is production value! There are things like lighting, contracts and Buffer Festival, which make me feel almost legitimate as a filmmaker, then I go home to make videos about butt plugs and anal douching, [laughs]” he said. “People’s perception of YouTube personalities is also changing, they’re realizing that YouTubers are influencers and have also started to see the value in it.”

One of the pillars of success for a lot of YouTube personalities is connecting with their audience on a personal level. It’s a place where content creators have really opened up to their subscribers to talk about personal issues and their experiences. Adande Thorne, also known as sWooZie likes to talk about his life, relationships, girls and past experiences, and this has worked very well for him.

“I like to give people the juicy stuff, give them a reason to share the content,” he told us. “Initially I was talking about a show that I was casted on, and then I realized I can quit my day job and just do this. My delivery changed a little bit as I pursued it full time – I didn’t just do it for the money, but for the opportunity to stop waking up every day to work for someone else,” he added.

As the culture has changed, so has the technology as it evolves into something that can deliver a much more immersive experience for viewers. Tom Small from Google shared knowledge on video cameras, editing software and industry insights to inspire attendees to get out there and create. Ryerson University and CBC organized a talk with Tom Small followed by breakout sessions where attendees learned more about video creation which was held at the Glenn Gould Studio“I think the most exciting thing about 360 video is that it can take you to a place you haven’t been to before,” he said. Google Cardboard is a very cost effective way to experience virtual reality as you can purchase one for under $20 on Amazon, and it’ll work with any smart phone. “The goal is to engage people to use this new technology and this is why I’m here. We have a 360 channel #360Video, where a lot of the content there isn’t owned by YouTube, but content various YouTubers create and we gather all that in one place” he added.

A lot of the content is created through the use of GoPro rigs, but the Ricoh Theta has been gaining traction as well. The double sided camera has the capability to shoot 360 video and is a cheaper way to get into creating VR content.

Throughout the festival, we looked out for everything related to music, as the platform has helped in shaping musical careers for artists. Although Los Angeles is one of the largest hubs for musicians, Toronto has been prominent in exporting talent as well, a talented Torontonian, Andrew Huang has established his talent on YouTube and is releasing an EP on Halloween. Making the move to LA did cross his mind to help his career, but he decided to stay in Toronto to continue with his endeavors. “I’ve felt the pull to LA over the years and I considered moving there, but it’s not on my mind anymore because you can create content from anywhere, all you need is WiFi and you’re good to go,” he said.

Shawna Howson also known as Nanalew is another great example of Canadian talent that has cultivated an audience in North America, and is currently in a position where a lot of her sponsors are American and she doesn’t necessarily need to relocate. Her repertoire of content touches on many areas including music, lifestyle, sketch comedy and video blogging showing that you don’t always have to stick to one thing to be successful on YouTube. Although many stars have been able to pursue a career in content creation for YouTube, Hawson still feels that even with a steady inflow of income things can still be inconsistent. “The freelance life is definitely touch and go, I feel secure, but I don’t think it’s going to be the same every month. A few years ago is when I was able to take this on a full-time basis, and a big reason for that was the help of my audience in winning a contest. I’m not making the ad sense money to be able to live, but more so through contests, integration, sponsors and doing well on my channel – all of that keeps the ball rolling,” she explained.

Some YouTube musicians step outside the box and create music in less conventional ways, such as Peter Hallens who makes music using voice and mouth. Hallens is a signed artist under Sony Music and is able to support his family through with his creativity. He feels the music industry is becoming more about the ability to create content and cultivating a community of followers and less about where you’re situated.

“When I decided to do this full-time, it was a great moment. I had just finished collaborating with Lindsey Stirling, who’s a violinist combining electronic music and dubstep which is far out there and now she has thousands of people attending her shows,” he told us. “I started to record and produce music for myself, because at the time I was doing it for other people, I also stopped looking at other musicians as competitors and fostered collaborations with them, that’s when I saw the value in pursuing this platform full time.”

A video premiere that took us by surprise was Kayla Briët’s (also known as Kaia) music video that won the contest for the Musicians and Music Videos showcase. Briët, from LA produced a music video where she used a Guzheng Zither, a keyboard and her vocals to produce a piece with heavy electronic music influence. Some artists she looks up to include Flume, Disclosure and Madeon. “I love electronic music, but I also like orchestral and video game scores. It all ties in together really well and I enjoy bringing that electronic aspect and giving the audience that experience through a live performance!”

At just 18 years old, Briët’s future is looking bright as she has been uploading high quality videos to pair with her productions on her channel. It wouldn’t surprise us if a year from now she becomes a YouTube star just like the ones we spoke to throughout the weekend. 

In conclusion, Buffer Festival wasn’t only a learning experience, but an inspiring one as well. As technology and society continues to evolve in the digital age the future looks very exciting as people continue to push the boundaries of creativity on the platform.

– Article by Ani Hajderaj

This post is sponsored by Fido.