Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.
This installment of YouTube Millionaires is brought to you by Epoxy.
An anonymous British man with a distinctive accent, a fondness for stick figures, and a penchant for foul language is on the warpath. His name is GradeAUnderA, and in his videos, he speaks his mind about the b.s. he smells on the Internet. Grade’s videos cover a variety of topics, but his most famous ones concern the YouTube community. By sharing well-reasoned arguments against controversial creators like Jinx, Nicole Arbour, and Vegan Gains, Grade has positioned himself as a foremost authority on YouTube drama. Along the way, he’s gone viral on Reddit a number of times, and as a result, his is one of the fastest-growing channels in the business.
We wanted to learn more about YouTube’s foremost muckraker, so as he surpassed one million subscribers, we talked to him about his work:
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have one million subscribers? What do you have to say to your fans?
GradeAUnderA: Absolutely horrible (kidding). It feels awesome! Having exactly one million subscribers in itself isn’t really anything to be honest, but knowing that so many people enjoy my videos is a really nice feeling – whether it’s ten thousand or a million.
I remember right at the start when I got back into making videos, I uploaded a video and after two minutes, I refreshed the video and the view count was already at ten. TEN! I called up my mate to boast. I thought that was the coolest thing I had ever seen.
So the number “1,000,000” is nice for the ego, but the feeling of knowing people enjoy your videos is awesome either way.
TF: Your channel has grown extremely fast over the past two years. What’s the most significant way in which your life and work have changed in that time?
GU: Well I’ve only been actively making videos for the past year and 4 months. I made my first two and I gave up because no one was watching them, because they sucked. But somehow, they gained some popularity.
But the most significant way they’ve changed my life is that they *are* my life now. I had to say goodbye to my free time, all my friends (both of them) and my harem of bikini-clad supermodel girlfriends to take up the solitary, hermit-like life of a YouTuber.
It’s my full-time job now. I’m still working on being funny, as you can probably tell.
TF: So contrary to your YouTube bio, this is your full-time job now?
GU: I wrote that bio when I had like 40,000 subscribers or something; it’s a full-time job now. Forgive me, Tubefilter.
But before YouTube, I was training to be a teacher and the guy overseeing my training was as competent as a teacher as I am as an animator. He didn’t like me and I didn’t like him (it was very much a “this school ain’t big enough for the both of us” type situation). I didn’t agree with his teaching methods and I refused to do them and long story short, he failed me.
I got to a stage where I had to decide between paying out of my butt to re-do that part of my training, but at the same time, my channel was starting to take off. I didn’t like the brown-nosing that went into teaching and decided to take a risk and brown-nose in YouTube instead. I just hit 1 million subscribers, so I guess it was a pretty good decision.
TF: Do you ever take viewer suggestions about topics to discuss, or do you yourself come up with all of your ideas?
GU: They’re all me.
Outside suggestions aren’t particularly helpful or productive, for the most part. Every now and then my mate Ajmal calls me up and says something like “Grade! Make a video about things you hate about wetting the bed” or something like that. But when I ask him for specifics, such as specifically what points I could include, he draws a blank and that’s where I come in, apparently. So I just do it myself.
I have a notepad file I’ve been writing in since 2008 full of random thoughts I get throughout the day. I was at the bank not too long ago and a random video-worthy thought came to mind, so I immediately stopped, leaned against the wall, got my phone out and wrote it down. Every now and then, I sit down and write them up from my phone into my notepad file. It currently has over 230,000 words. So that should keep me going for a while.
TF: You’ve made some pretty strong accusations against some other YouTubers. What steps do you take to ensure your arguments are fair and accurate?
GU: I like to think that I have a pretty firm grasp of when there’s reasonable doubt and when there isn’t. I made the mistake of studying mathematics at university, which is all about logic and especially “proofs”, which are logically irrefutable arguments. If there’s one single possibility that could go against your proof, it’s not considered a valid proof. That’s essentially all I studied for four years.
Not saying you can be *as* strict in real life situations, but come on, I’m not an idiot. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.
Believe me, if there’s one thing I know, it’s the feeling of piss against my skin.
TF: I feel like your videos have influenced public perception about YouTube-related issues. Would you say you set out to “move the needle,” or do you merely see yourself as an entertainer?
GU: Sometimes. The main purpose of my videos is to make you laugh, but sometimes if I feel strongly enough on something, I guess maybe I am trying to subconsciously move the needle. Everyone knows some aspects about YouTube are unacceptable, like how they let reaction channels repeatedly get away with breaking copyright laws, and they seem to reward people who go on the streets and perform ever-increasingly outrageous pranks on members of the public. That’s not entertainment.
YouTube is without a doubt becoming an unbelievably influential platform. They’re sending makeup gurus and really bad slapstick comediennes to the White House to meet the President of the United States! What other platform can make that happen?
Given the immense influence this platform has, I hate to see it go downhill the way it has been going recently and worry about the implications and possible repercussions that could have.
TF: What made you decide to keep your identity anonymous? As you become more popular, do you ever revisit that decision?
GU: Fame isn’t something I want. Simple as that.
TF: How do you hope to see YouTube change over the next year?
GU: I hope it doesn’t. And I go out of my way to ensure it doesn’t.
I use the laptop I already had, I record my audio on my Samsung Galaxy S2, I draw my pictures on Microsoft Paint using the mouse I ordered on eBay that cost less than the postage to deliver it to me, and I do my video editing in Windows Movie Maker. I haven’t spent a penny on anything related to my YouTube channel and I never plan on doing so. My YouTube channel is a zero-budget channel.
I saw all the top channels using expensive Apple computers, shooting their footage on DSLR cameras, hooking up their elaborate lighting rigs whenever they shoot etc, editing on editing software that costs more than the rent I used to pay in South Kensington while I was at uni.
That’s a lot of money. And I had none.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t start a YouTube channel.
And I don’t like change. The best websites keep it simple and haven’t really changed a thing since they started. Just look at Google…or 4chan.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
GU: *Fun* plans?
I won’t go into too much detail, but I would love to be able to make a completely separate math channel where I teach math for ages up to about age 16. I’ve always excelled at math to a very high standard and would love to be able to carry on teaching it, even if it’s not in the classroom. It’s something I VERY much want to do, The only thing that stops me is not having the time.
A math YouTube channel… that’s considered “fun” right?
But at the very least, I’m just going to carry on making my videos. I haven’t particularly changed anything yet, and I don’t see much changing in the future.
If anyone made it to the complete end of this article, I’m impressed. 10 points to Gryffindor.
This installment of YouTube Millionaires is brought to you by Epoxy, the premier company that helps multi-platform creators and digital networks distribute videos, engage with fans, measure success, and grow their communities across the social web. Check out Epoxy’s new Sharing Studio, a place for quickly creating and distributing native social content from your YouTube channels.