VidCon 2021 has been canceled because of heightened concerns over COVID-19 and the Delta variant and California's health and safety mandates.
The influencer industry's biggest event of the year had been scheduled for Oct. 22-24 at the Anaheim Convention Center. It would have marked TikTok's first year as the top sponsor, taking over the long-held title from YouTube.
"We were so confident that we'd be able to put on the VidCon you know and love this October and could not wait to reconnect with all of IRL," VidCon General Manager Jim Louderback said in a statement. "Unfortunately, due to the recent increases in COVID-19 cases and evolving health and safety mandates, we have come to the difficult but right decision to cancel VidCon this October. We just can't risk the health and safety of our attendees, creators, speakers, sponsors and staff — and we want to ensure we provide EVERYONE with the very best VidCon experience."
California's Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that people attending indoor events with 1,000 or more people must provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from within the prior 72 hours, starting Sept. 20.
The convention, which would have been in its 11th year, has been rescheduled for June 22-25, 2022 in Anaheim.
In 2019, VidCon's events attracted about 75,000 people and 120 brand exhibitors.
Anaheim spokesperson Lauren Gold said that convention brought an estimated $47 million into the city, including on hotel stays, shopping and dining or even visits to Disneyland and California Adventure.
The city expected more than 30,000 convention goers to attend this year.
"We are disappointed VidCon 2021 isn't going forward but understand their decision," Gold said in a statement. "VidCon brings excitement, energy, creativity and fun to our city. But, more than that, events such as these are critical for Anaheim's economic recovery. We look forward to hosting VidCon 2022 in June."
VidCon is an event that brings together online influencers and the viewers who engage with their content. It gives creators the opportunity to mingle with executives in entertainment and technology and to negotiate brand deals.
Since its last in-person conference, influencers have only become a hotter commodity. At least 10 social media platforms including Snap, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube have built funds to lure in creators as they battle it out for talent. TikTok's fund is set to grow to about $1 billion.
Typically taking place in the summer, the event in 2020 had been scheduled for June, but was canceled three months earlier at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
With TikTok taking over from YouTube as a brand sponsor, some said that it represented a symbolic shift in the social media landscape demonstrating TikTok's rise in popularity among content creators.In response to questions from Buzzfeed as to whether TikTok will remain a title sponsor in 2022, VidCon told the news outlet it will "be sure to share sponsorship and programming updates in the near future."
Correction: An earlier version misstated the amount of attendees expected.
Jukin Media, the company that licenses and acquires pet videos and other user-generated content, has been plucked up by Trusted Media Brands, a New York-based media company best known for its publications including "Reader's Digest" and "Taste of Home." Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
"I'm just super proud to continue seeing the trend of exits happening in L.A.," Jukin Media founder and co-CEO Jon Skogmo told dot.LA. "I think it's great for the L.A. tech community, and I'm really proud to be part of it."
Skogmo said that, after a successful 2020, he began setting their sights on an acquisition deal to explode their growth. Jukin connected with Trusted Media Brands, which was looking for the same thing.
After initially networking remotely, Trusted Media Brands flew out to L.A. to meet with Jukin's leaders in person this past January.
"It really just was a perfect match, perfect synergies, perfect complementary businesses," Skogmo said. "They do a lot of things really well, like affiliate, ecommerce, owned and operated websites, first party data, stuff that we're not really good at. But we are so great at social; we're great at video; we're great, obviously, at this licensing arm."
The two companies have historically worked with very different types of content; Trusted Media Brands largely focuses on health, lifestyle and food while Jukin primarily works with comedy. This diversity of content is expected to allow both companies to scale their reach across the internet.
In the face of this massive change, Skogmo said relocation, downsizing and cost-cutting are not currently on the docket for Jukin as they seize this "transformative" opportunity for growth. Ultimately, the goal is for Jukin to grow into a billion-dollar company.
Skogmo will continue to run the Jukin brand as co-CEO along with Lee Essner.
Trusted Media Brands was previously known as The Reader's Digest Association. It rebranded in 2015 under their current CEO, Bonnie Kintzer. This followed the company's second bankruptcy in five years as they struggled to adapt to changing reader demands in the face of new technologies. Since rebranding, Trusted Media Brands has taken a "digital first" approach to their content after a long legacy in print media.
With more than 220 million fans on social media and more than 2.5 billion minutes of video viewed each month, it's no surprise that Trusted Media Brands was attracted to Jukin Media.
"Somebody who has not been focusing on video, or that's not their core strength, I think acquiring an asset like us is gonna leapfrog them into the top of the rankings, particularly when they want to compete with folks like BuzzFeed and Group Nine," said Skogmo.
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Streaming has dramatically changed how consumers view Hollywood and hear music as theatrical release windows shrink and social media replaces radio and television as a source of music discovery.
In our latest Strategy Session, dot.LA spoke with three talent representatives about how new platforms, models and the pandemic are shifting the ways artists reach their audiences, and what might be in store for the future.
Q&A co-founder Troy Carter has worked on providing new tools that allow musicians to gauge the future success of their songs, and to take care of back-office needs once provided by record labels. UTA Independent Film Group partners Rena Ronson and Jim Meenaghan bring new directors and filmmakers to light and help them get financing and distribution deals for their films. Each plays a role in helping artists navigate bringing their work to market.
Carter said where once record companies and radio stations, MTV and BET picked who would be played and who wouldn't, now a whole new world has opened up to artists on social media, streaming apps, as well as entire new industries such as gaming and streaming video.
What hasn't much changed, Carter said, is the way that artists are compensated. Those who own the music copyright are paid well by streaming services such as Spotify, but that money often doesn't trickle down as quickly to artists. "And that's where, you know, things need to be fixed," he said.
"If an artist is releasing music independently, they still run a label, essentially. So they should be organized with the same tools," he said. "Everybody's a label, essentially."
The question for artists has become 'how do you cut through the noise'. His goal is to give them — as well as record labels and agents — the tools to reach listeners.
"The idea is to, you know, can we make the music industry run more efficiently, and be able to allow labels and artists to make smarter and more informed decisions?"
For filmmakers, the marketplace is getting to be more difficult, especially for those who — like many independent directors — would like to see their films on the traditional big screen, Ronson and Meenaghan said. The pandemic has accelerated trends within the industry that favor streaming services, which were already able to offer larger sums for films.
"Everybody in our ecosystem still wants there to be theatrical releases," Meenaghan said. "COVID has just put a pause on theatrical releasing during the pandemic, but I don't think any of us believe that theatrical releasing is going away."
Much of that may depend on whether the pandemic has created new habits for audiences, who are now used to watching movies on demand and at home. Meenaghan said he's also heard questions about whether theater chains will consolidate or become part of large studios such as Netflix or Disney.
"That was the speculation," he said. "The studios would buy out the exhibition chains, take the real estate, presumably, and then use the theaters for captive marketing and releasing venues."
Ronson said viewers can probably expect the 'theatrical window' — the time when films are available only in theaters, before they're released online — to shrink.
"The big question is going to be 'how is the windowing going to look? Will people stay, you know, continue to go to the theaters?'," she said.
Watch the full discussion above and sign up for our newsletter to get updates on upcoming dot.LA events.
Troy Carter, Founder and CEO of Q&A
Troy Carter, Founder and CEO of Q&A
Troy Carter is the founder and CEO of Q&A, a technology and media company focused on powering the business of music through distribution, services, and data analytics. Formerly, Troy was the founder and CEO of Atom Factory, where he rose to prominence, nurturing the careers of global superstars including Lady Gaga and John Legend. He most recently served at Spotify as its global head of creator services, overseeing the company's growth strategy for artists and record labels. In 2017, Carter was also named entertainment advisor to the Prince Estate.
His interest in the intersection of technology and culture resulted in the formation of AF Square Investments. Early investments include Uber, Lyft, Dropbox, Spotify, Warby Parker, theSkimm, Blavity, Gimlet Media, Thrive Market, PlayVs, and FazeClan. Troy currently serves as a trustee for The Aspen Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and CalArts.
Jim Meenaghan, Co-Head of the Independent Film Group and Head of Business Affairs - Motion Pictures
Jim Meenaghan, Co-Head of Independent Film Group and Head of Business Affairs, Motion Pictures
As co-head of UTA Independent Film Group, Meenaghan is actively involved in structuring and negotiating film financing and distribution deals for independent films across all media. Meenaghan also oversees day-to-day business affairs operations for the motion picture departments across the agency and works closely with many of UTA's high-profile clients including Wes Anderson, Joel and Ethan Coen, Drew Goddard and Noah Baumbach.
Prior to joining UTA, Meenaghan served as executive vice president of Anschutz Film Group/Walden Media ("The Chronicles of Narnia," "Charlotte's Web," "Ray") and was in charge of all aspects of the company's business and legal affairs. Prior to that, he was senior vice president, business affairs at Icon Productions ("What Women Want," "We Were Soldiers," "Passion of the Christ").
Rena Ronson, Partner and the Co-Head of the Independent Film Group
Rena Ronson, Partner and Co-Head of the Independent Film Group
Rena Ronson is a partner and the co-head of the Independent Film Group at leading global talent and entertainment company United Talent Agency (UTA). One of the industry's pre-eminent packaging and finance executives, Ronson specializes in global film finance, distribution and marketing strategies for independent and co-financed features, helping the world's most acclaimed independent filmmakers see their work reach global audiences.
Throughout her career, Ronson has helped package, structure financing for, and sell numerous high profile films, including Oscar-winning "I, Tonya," "Room" and "Icarus," and Oscar-nominated films, "Hidden Figures," "The Big Sick," "Lady Bird," and "Call Me By Your Name," among many others. She is also known for working with acclaimed filmmakers on their directorial debuts, including Greta Gerwig's "Lady Bird," Haifaa al-Mansour's "Wadjda," Don Cheadle's "Miles Ahead," Marielle Heller's "Diary of a Teenage Girl," Jill Soloway's "Afternoon Delight," Crystal Moselle's "Skate Kitchen," and Emerald Fennell's "Promising Young Woman." Additional upcoming films include "The Father" starring Anthony Hopkins and "The Mauritanian" starring Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
Kelly O'Grady, Chief Host and Correspondent
Kelly O'Grady, Chief Host and Correspondent
Kelly O'Grady is dot.LA's chief host & correspondent. Kelly serves as dot.LA's on-air talent, and is responsible for designing and executing all video efforts. A former management consultant for McKinsey, and TV reporter for NESN, she also served on Disney's Corporate Strategy team, focusing on M&A and the company's direct-to-consumer streaming efforts. Kelly holds a bachelor's degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. A Boston native, Kelly spent a year as Miss Massachusetts USA, and can be found supporting her beloved Patriots every Sunday come football season.
Sam Blake, dot.LA Entertainment Reporter
Sam Blake, dot.LA Entertainment Reporter
Sam Blake is dot.LA's entertainment reporter. Prior to joining dot.LA, he had a writing fellowship with The Economist, where he wrote primarily for the business and finance sections of the print edition. Sam previously interned at KCRW and hosted a podcast at UCLA's college radio station while completing his dual-degree MBA and Master's in Public Policy. A native of Detroit, Sam previously lived in Madison, Wisconsin and New York City. He studied history at the University of Michigan and speaks four languages.
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