How Fans Created NYC’s Premiere YouTube Gathering: Q&A With Stream Con Creator Greg Topalian
Fellow fangirls, if you’ve ever doubted your ability to make things happen, doubt no more.
Stream Con NYC is living proof of the power of fan demand. This Halloween weekend, over 100 YouTubers will convene in Manhattan, including Connor Franta, Joey Graceffa, Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart. They’ll be meeting viewers and taking selfies- obvs- but they’ll also be performing, speaking on panels, participating in workshops with other convention goers, and bringing the YouTube community to life on the east coast.
The best part? All of this is happening because you asked for it.
We chatted with Greg Topalian, President of LeftField Media, the company behind Stream Con NYC, and he confirmed that passion is at the heart of all things awesome, and when fans speak up about what they want, they get it.
Q: How is Stream Con unique from other gatherings like VidCon, Playlist, etc.?
A: I would say first and foremost is just location. We’re right in the heart of NYC. There’s really nobody running an event like this, at this scale, in NYC. We have huge respect for those other events, I’ve been to several of those events, and they’re really great things for us to build and aspire towards. New York definitely adds a really nice element in that it does actually allow us to have an industry component. It’s obviously not just 12 million people strong, it’s the home of advertising, it’s the home of licensing and book publishing.
That’s important because so many of these YouTube creators are growing in all of these mainstream fields. They’re really managing a brand and a business. To be able to say, “Hey! Come to New York and see the fans, but also get a lot of business done,” is, in our opinion, a huge benefit. We’re a first year show and we have some pretty phenomenal talent. I don’t think we would have been able to pull off that level of talent if we were in a much smaller city.
Q: This is Stream Con’s first year, and creating a YouTube gathering is a huge undertaking. How did this go from being just an idea to something that is really happening?
A: I’ve been in the trade show and event business for about 18 years, so I have a lot of experience creating new events. I started New York Comic Con ten years ago. I’ll say it’s similar in that it always starts with an idea, a kernel of, “Hey, there are these other events around the country, this talent is so amazing and so popular,”
An older generation may have gravitated towards more of a Comic Con, but there’s this younger generation saying, “These are our stars! This is our community!” So it starts by talking to fans and people in the industry and see if this makes sense. When people say, “It does make sense, and I would love if you would do that,” it gives you the confidence to keep it going. At some point you have to make a commitment and say you’re going to try and you’re going to build something of quality.
It’s so driven by the fans. It’s driven by the fact that we listened, we asked questions, and this is what they want. They want phenomenal talent, they want to hang with their friends, they want panels, they want to meet their favorite stars. That, whether it’s a comic show or a gaming show, it’s kind of always the central theme. You want to give the fans what they’re looking for.
Q: So as someone who’s high up on the ladder, you can confirm that fans really do have the power to drive demand?
A: Totally. It’s a huge part of our process. Honestly, it frustrates me more that I can’t get more direct feedback. We’re constantly looking at the Twitter feed. We’re looking at our Facebook page. We’re constantly looking to see who they’re excited about. I’ve made a career out of creating fan-based events, so to me, that’s who you’re building this for. If they’re happy and they’re teling their friends, then you have a great, successful thing. So yeah, I would confirm that for sure.
Q: On a personal level, what are you most excited about for this event?
A: I would say Friday night, I think Grace and Mamrie’s show is really cool. It’s not just a meet and greet, it’s a live performance. I think so many people love both of them, so that is incredibly exciting. Personally, I would say my favorites are Prank vs. Prank and iJustine. So hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to get a photo backstage if I happen to meet them They’re the people I watch all the time, so for me personally that’s kind of fun.
Q: Having worked in multiple realms of entertainment events, what drew you to the world of YouTube and online media?
A: It’s a couple things. It’s always passion. Any event I’ve ever created that I think is awesome, there’s always this underlying intense passion. The fans are craving it, and you create it for them because they want it. The first thing was seeing that happen and seeing that it was exactly what we see in the gaming industry, exactly what we see in Star Wars fans. Everyone’s got their own thing, and they key is that we have to respect that. I’m not a huge comic book fan, but I started one of the biggest comic shows in the country because I had huge respect for the passion the comic fans had.
The idea of it being new media was interesting on another level. Technology has affected so much about the way the world operates, and I consistently see events not necessarily embracing that. I think it’s really compelling to be dealing with an audience that is so immediate in the way they want to learn about things and understand things.
The world is changing. Eyeballs are leaving traditional TV, and this is where they’re going. We’re excited about being on the cutting edge of something, as opposed to joining an idea or trend as it’s matured.
Q: What else should our readers know about Stream Con?
A: I think people are going to be surprised. I see a lot of comments that are very singular, like, “Oh my god, I can’t wait to meet Joey Graceffa!” Which is great! Everyone loves Joey, and if that’s the person they’re most excited to see, I totally get that. But looking at the whole program, there’s so much more to do. There are so many panels, concerts, performances, and over 100 stars who are going to be appearing. I think it’s realizing that this is really a convention. You can go with your friends, meet new friends. It’s bigger than going and just having this ten second snapped- which is awesome, don’t get me wrong- but I think it’s realizing there’s so much more to do.
Stream Con NYC takes place in Manhattan’s Javits Center from Oct 30- Nov 1. Pick up your tickets here, and use our coupon code to get $10 off!
Will you be hitting up Stream Con this year? Let us know! @FakeTeamFangirl
Katie Wingfield is a Co-Founder of TeamFangirl.com. Not being able to go to Stream Con is one of the only things that has ever made her sad about living in California. @Katie_Wingfield