ASMR as a Career

Before we get into ASMR as a career on YouTube, let’s start with the basics. Anyone looking to start a career on YouTube is in for a different experience than they probably believe. While they’re amongst an entire generation of self-employing content creators, that’s one of the biggest issues. How do you compete with millions of other YouTube channels, not just to be able to make money off of your channel, but to get the amount of viewership necessary to be recognized? As you take a look into some of the most popular YouTube channels in the world, certain characteristics tend to pop up. First, the charisma that goes behind having a strong online presence. I can’t think of any better example of this kind of personality on YouTube than Jenna Marbles. This once night club dancer turned YouTube star is not afraid to show her true personality in all kinds of ways in her videos. She’s unafraid of speaking her unpopular opinions, and that’s something millennials starve for. Therefore, her kind of “new-age charisma” and character brand her channel into something only Jenna Marbles is able to get away with. If you’re unfamiliar with Jenna, I’m going to include one of her videos. Nothing could be more fitting than her sarcastic, parody-like take on how to make a YouTube video.[1]

 

“How To Make A YouTube Video”

 

Back to ASMR

After examining the tendencies of YouTube channels in general, we can go back to ASMR. Now, ASMR is different because it doesn’t take as much of a personality as stated in one of my previous blogs. ASMR videos are about relaxation and visual/audio stimuli more than they’re about who makes the best jokes or can do their makeup better than any other similar channel. ASMR takes more practice and skill in the production of its videos. While it takes everyone awhile to grasp the concept of what makes their videos successful on YouTube, it can come a lot slower for that of ASMR. Take editing software for instance. Everyone on YouTube needs a good editing routine to make their videos clean cut and prepared, but this is magnified a 100 times over in ASMR due to the fact that the videos are putting on more of an “illusion”. If that illusion breaks because of awkward lighting, pauses in dialogue, abrupt sounds in the background, the relaxation for the viewer breaks as well. Therefore it takes decent editing software and know-how to avoid these mistakes in order to gain more views, and that, in turn, costs a lot of money.

 

Media Outlets

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I’ve mentioned the popular ASMR channel HeatherFeather before in my blog, and we’re going to take a look at some of her other media outlets that she uses to communicate with her dedicated viewers.[2] Along with her YouTube channel and Reddit presence, she has a blog where she checks in with her viewers, gives sneak peeks of future videos, and shares some of her own favorite ASMR triggers and memories.[3]

You can find her blog here.[4]

This is a great example of the networking that is also necessary to gain the viewership one needs to make ASMR into a career. In a quick Google search, the guidelines of using YouTube as monetary gain are as follows: contrary to popular belief, you don’t gain a set amount of money for every thousand or so views you have.[5] You gain money based on your audience’s engagement with the ads placed before, during, or after your videos. Some channels have private deals where a company will recognize their ability to gain online traffic, and offer them a stipend for mentioning their product in one of their videos. There’s also different kinds of ads that are placed. There could be cost per click, or CPC, ads that charge money per amount of clicks that users engage with. There’s also CPV, or clicks per view, which means the money is given only if the user views the clip for longer than thirty seconds. Regardless the technique in which the money is given, it’s more than clear that it is a far less reliable source than of a regular salary-based career.

 

ASMR and Fair Use

I want to briefly touch on a part of Heather Feather’s blog and also an interview she did with ASMRyouready.com[6][7] that explains a legal matter she faced over one of her videos. The basic story is this: Heather spent months making a video, titled, “After the Battle” where she had used stock footage in the beginning that she got from a free use site.[8] Soon after, she was notified about “matched third party content” and had to fight to keep her video and channel up. She was able to rid her video of the claims, but in the months that the video was up, she had to continually fight for her rights of free use. She then was forced to take the video down and re-upload it without the footage from before. This goes to show two important things. First, there’s complications in any work you create and then release on the internet. Second, there’s a constant drive to create new and different content for your viewers. Heather mentioned she spent months on the video, which could seem excessive for those who are unaware of ASMR. However, when maintaining your channel and social media presence is your only task concerning your livelihood, it makes sense that you could quite possibly spend most hours of most of your days trying to create the best experience possible for your viewers. If there’s anything we know about this generation, it is that if you don’t keep them constantly occupied with new, “trendy” topics, they will leave and find their fix elsewhere.

 

Not a Casual Career

In the interview mentioned above with ASMRyouready, Heather quotes, “Making ASMR videos definitely changes your real life. I have much less time to do other things, because I am always working on my channel. I get an average of 4 hours of sleep a night. I don’t go out as much as I used to. I miss the sun sometimes, haha. You definitely make sacrifices for your channel…” That’s the basic understanding of YouTube content that creators have, and viewers don’t seem to understand. After attempting to create my own ASMR video, I wonder sometimes while watching others if they’re able to find ASMR relaxing at all anymore after their 500th or 1,000th ASMR creation. You have to have the drive to make something like ASMR into a career when for most it’s just more of a hobby. The main question to ask yourself is, “Am I getting more out of it than I’m giving?” The answer becomes easier to understand once you try our hand at becoming a YouTube/ASMR commodity.

 


 

[1] JennaMarbles, How To Make A YouTube Video (YouTube, 2014)

[2] HeatherFeather (YouTube)

[3] Reddit.com, ASMR: Sounds That Feel Good

[4] HeatherFeather (BlogSpot)

[5] VideoPower.org, How Many Views Does it Take to Make Money on YouTube?

[6] ASMRYouReady.com, ASMR Community

[7] Rebekah Smith, ASMR Interviewed: Heather Feather (ASMRYouReady, 2015)

[8] HeatherFeather, ASMR After The Battle: Sci-Fi Suit Repair Role Play For Relaxation (Binaural) (Reupload) (YouTube, 2014)

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ASMR: What makes a video successful/unsuccessful?

In ASMR, it’s very easy to try out a “trigger” or roleplay in your video and end up falling short on what you thought would be most engaging. I’ve tried making a video myself, and it’s a lot more challenging than what people who only watch ASMR would think. Trying to find the right angles, lighting, “triggers”, tone of voice, props, it’s all very complicated. So before you think to yourself, “I could do this every week instead of an actual career, it seems easy”, think again. Take time to appreciate some of the best ASMR creators on Youtube or Reddit, and think about the necessary means and know-how they had to develop to become so prominent in their videos.[1]

 

The Basics

There are a lot of things that are key in creating a successful ASMR channel. I’ve mentioned before that the biggest ones are tone of voice, microphone quality, video quality, and props. As with any YouTube video, the first thing that’s going to grab viewer’s attention is whether or not your thumbnail is of good quality or not. This can give away the quality of your video. So you probably wonder why I put voice ahead of quality in this case. This is because, no matter how broad ASMR genres tend to be, when you’re looking for a very specific ASMR clip that isn’t so mass-produced, you might have to be forced to watch a lower quality video. Most of the time you can get passed this if the producer has a soothing voice for experiencing triggers. That’s the whole reason behind ASMR.

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A Look into “Triggers”

As we talk about what makes a video successful in providing the right content, or “triggers”, it’s interesting to remember that not everyone can feel them. There’s a segment of the population, however large, that completely miss the concept about ASMR because they receive no stimulus from it. As ASMR becomes more popular, this issue becomes more prevalent. On ASMRUniversity, there’s a link to an online survey being done on this particular phenomenon by the founder of ASMRUniversity, Craig Richard, the woman who is famous for the term “autonomous sensory meridian response”, Jennifer Allen, and a graduate psychology student, Karissa Burnett.[2][3] The article mentions they are studying the characteristics of those who experience ASMR, such as their gender, age, medical conditions, etc., and those who don’t experience it at all. There’s also a timeline of updated information at the end. According to the timeline, this idea behind the research started in August 2014, and the survey itself was made and put online in November 2014. By the first month, the survey had 5,000 responses all the way into October 2015 when the number of polls reached 14,000. The survey is still open to the public, but the data analysis is in progress as we speak. The updates on the findings will come at a later date.

In continuation with that article, another study done by Emma Barratt and Nick Davis, follows research done to study the common “triggers” through ASMR and their effects on clinically-diagnosed depression and chronic pain in viewers. What I love most about this article, however, is its ability to put into words what most scholarly articles cannot because of ASMR’s low focus in the scientific community. It mentions the top YouTube channels and their number of subscriber, as it dives deeper into how ASMR is becoming more recognized by the media. Then it begins to explain the associations between the “triggers” and their common effects on viewers with or without some kind of clinical disability. In the end, whether the use be for sleep, as 82% percent stated, 70% for stress, or a niche 5% for sexual arousal, the consensus was clear: ASMR is present, and it is effective, as stated by a 98% consensus from the participants that they experienced some kind of relaxation through ASMR.

 


 

[1] Reddit.com, ASMR: Sounds That Feel Good

[2] ASMRUniversity.com

[3] Emma L. Barratt and Nick J. Davis, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

(ASMR): a flow-like mental state (PeerJ, 2015)

[4] Karissa Burnett, Jennifer Allen, Craig Richard, ASMR Survey (SurveyMonkey, 2014)

ASMR Genres

In continuation with my first blog post, I thought it best to talk about some of the popular genres of ASMR, or popular “triggers”. “Triggers”, a rather self-explanatory term, are what ASMR content creators call the reactions that a person gets when they watch ASMR and are relaxed by that specific action the video creator is doing.

Popular Triggers

The first trigger that always comes to mind when I describe ASMR is someone playing with your hair. Now this is much more prevalent for girls rather than guys, so below I’m going to show you some of the most common triggers found in ASMR and one of my personal favorites. I focus on the YouTube ASMR creator “HeatherFeather” for these examples because she’s somewhat of a ‘household name’ in both YouTube and Reddit ASMR.

 

“ASMR: Binaural Ear to Ear Whispering, Ear Massage, and Inhaling/Exhaling Inspiration for Relaxation”[1]

“ASMR Sound Assortment of Six For Your ASMR Fix (For Relaxation, Tingles, and Sleep)”[2]

 

Roleplay

This is another genre where ASMR starts to get really elaborate. This genre doesn’t tend to be my personal favorite, however, some videos aren’t as elaborate as others. For example, there could be a ‘Sci-Fi Alien Earth Discovery’ ASMR roleplay, or there could be a ‘Haircut and Wash’ roleplay. One is very imaginative, while the other is a simple trigger played out through real life scenarios. The thing about the variety of ASMR Genres is that it caters to every kind of personality. For me, its simple scenarios, ie. “Makeup Counter Roleplays”, “Brushing Hair and Head Massage”, etc. It could be anything you want it to be centered around. The reason for this is because only you know what relaxes you most, and certain videos will be able to do that for you with background setting while others cannot. For ASMR creators, they’re only goal is to relax you in the best possible way.

Again, let’s take a look at some roleplay examples. This time I will be using another one of my favorite ASMR creators: “Olivia’s Kissper ASMR”:

 

“ALIEN ABDUCTION for women: HAIR, SKIN samples & FACE paint *Binaural ASMR doctor roleplay *”[3]

“Binaural ASMR HAIRCUT and hair BRUSHING role play”[4]

The best thing about these examples is one is a little more out-of-the-box, while the other is simple and traditional. There are other genres to be discussed, but “Roleplay” is by far the biggest and the broadest.

 

Rambling

This genre of ASMR is exactly as it sounds. There are countless ASMR videos dedicated to just rambling on screen into the microphone for your relaxation. This is a great genre for those who just like to watch the regular YouTube videos with the funnier personalities that ramble on about their day to the enjoyment of their viewers. This genre of ASMR takes that charisma and puts it into a more relaxed setting, adds a lighter tone of voice, and is done. It’s probably the more basic of the genres, that way many people can feel comfortable getting into ASMR this way. It’s also a great way to build relationships with your viewers, seeing as how this community of YouTube isn’t one that becomes particularly invasive of the video creator’s life. ASMR videos can show as little and as much as the person making the video wants. This is why in the “Rambling” genre, you’ll see a lot more personality than in any other genre of ASMR. A similarity, however, would be that tone of voice is just as key in these videos, if not more, because that’s all the content that these videos offer.

 

Writing/Drawing

A lot of people in the ASMR community say that the artist, Bob Ross, is kind of the grandfather of ASMR.[5] If you took almost any art class in middle school, Bob Ross’ tutorial videos were always the videos shown. If you got any kind of relaxed, sleepy feeling from watching his videos as a kid, now you know why. Ross’ voice is low and soothing, and his particularly slow and steady portrayal of how to draw/paint/etc. leads to a relaxed state of mind while watching his videos. Fellow ASMR’s took to YouTube after this discovery to create another genre: writing, painting, and drawing sounds. These videos could be a simple pen-to-paper display, or a full-on painting project with whispered instructions, and added “triggers” like gum chewing, lip smacking, or nail tapping. This genre is a lot of fun, and will always be my favorite after having discovered ASMR through this genre. For a little break in the blog, let’s add another video in this genre to watch. And because, as stated before, most ASMR videos are done by women because of their lighter tone and touch, I’m going to include a video made by a man. I think the video is well made, casual and light enough to relax to, and you can definitely tell that he put a lot of thought into what would relax his viewers most. Here it is:

 

“ASMR Zelda Hyrule Hystoria pt 3 *Drawing, Gum Chewing, Whispering*”[6]

 

As this entry comes to a close, I find it important to stress that there are so many different kinds of videos in ASMR, some with talking, some without, some with a lot of one genre, and some with a little bit of every genre you could imagine, but I think I’ve done my best to highlight the most important ones. It’s hard to get bored because of the creativity of everyone involved in ASMR. No two videos will ever be the exact same, and going through every video of ASMR would take months, even years, with new videos being made daily. Therefore, for those who heavily rely on ASMR for relaxation and sleep, there will always be a new video to discover.

 


 

[1] HeatherFeather, ASMR: Binaural Ear to Ear Whispering, Ear Massage, and Inhaling/Exhaling Inspiration for Relaxation (YouTube, 2014)

[2] HeatherFeather, ASMR Sound Assortment of Six For Your ASMR Fix (For Relaxation, Tingles, and Sleep) (YouTube, 2013)

[3] Olivia’s Kissper ASMR, ALIEN ABDUCTION for women: HAIR, SKIN samples & FACE paint *Binaural ASMR doctor roleplay * (YouTube, 2014)

[4] Olivia’s Kissper ASMR, Binaural ASMR HAIRCUT and hair BRUSHING role play (YouTube, 2013)

[5] Trey Taylor, Bob Ross: king of the tingles (dazeddigital, 2014)

[6] Roger Rabbit ASMR, ASMR Zelda Hyrule Hystoria pt 3 *Drawing, Gum Chewing, Whispering* (YouTube, 2015)

A look into ASMR

You know the tingles you get in the back of your head when someone traces their fingernails up your arm, or plays with your hair? That’s called autonomous sensory meridian response or, in short, ASMR. I first discovered the phrase when I was on YouTube and began watching a video in which a guy perfectly recreates famous logos with a calligraphy pen. The “related videos” section of YouTube led me to stumble across an ASMR video that was centered on the sounds that sharpies make against paper. I took a closer look and finally discovered there’s a whole community of these ASMR videos on various platforms, such as YouTube and Reddit.

Since some of you reading this may have just learned about ASMR for the first time, let me give you a little preview of some of my favorite ASMR videos.

First, as mentioned before, the sharpie video:

“** Relaxing Sounds** Writing With Sharpies ASMR”[1]

“ASMR EAR to EAR whispers: CLEAR YOUR MIND! Relaxation meditation for sleep *binaural*”[2]

“ASMR Brushing Microphone (Whispering & Soft Spoken + Nail Tapping)”[3]

ASMR: The Main Idea

The purpose of this blog is not only to inform, but to demonstrate how easily they are made, and how easily they can be transformed into an actual career. Thus, my questions are as follows:

  1. What makes ASMR videos successful/unsuccessful?
  2. How easy is the production of ASMR videos?
  3. Is there a catch to using YouTube as a career, specifically concerning ASMR videos?

 

ASMRUniversity

In the research I’ve done, I found a website called “ASMRUniversity” who is devoted to keeping people in the ASMR community up-to-date on the latest community news. It contains blog posts by the authors, podcasts by different ASMR creators, articles featuring ASMR research, and more.[4] It’s a great tool for ASMR as an online community. There was a specific article I found where Dr. Garro, of Keele University, talks about ASMR and its effects on the brain as far as scientists have studied it.[5] Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of scientific research done on ASMR just yet, because it’s just now starting to be recognized as an online community. The link to “ASMRUniversity” is here.

 

In my “New Media, Culture, and Society” course – what these blog posts are being written for – we discussed the idea of Henry Jenkin’s “participatory culture”. The term essentially means that consumers are all a part of a culture where you don’t just consume, but also produce and contribute new ideas to that culture every day.[6] ASMR is a huge part of this idea. Consumers who first discovered the internet as part of participatory culture used it to mix and remix things. This led to all kinds of new ideas. After so many years, websites like YouTube were created where you can literally put yourself on the map, along with your ideas. This “content-creating” generation has taken their personalities, and put them on YouTube in versions of vlogs, song covers, prank videos, “how-to” videos, and more. ASMR is just one of the millions of online communities with niche interests, where people who share those interests can collaborate with each other.


 

[1] The Starlight Whisperer, **Relaxing Sounds** Writing With Sharpies ASMR (YouTube, 2014)

[2] Olivia’s Kissper ASMR, ASMR EAR to EAR whispers: CLEAR YOUR MIND! Relaxation meditation for sleep *binaural* (YouTube, 2014)

[3] Amalzd, ASMR Brushing Microphone (Whispering & Soft Spoken + Nail Tapping) (YouTube, 2014)

[4] ASMRUniversity.com, Image

[5] Dr. Diego Garro, Neuropsychological and neurophysiological characterization of a phenomenon called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) (ASMRUniversity, 2015)

[6] Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture (New York and London, 2006), 2