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.
Matt Steffanina knows how to work it, both on the dance floor and on YouTube. Steffanina, who is partnered with izo (formerly DanceOn) has more than four million subscribers on his primary YouTube channel, is best known for his intricate and energetic dance rountines, which are set to some of the most popular songs on the charts. His success as a choreographer has opened up several fun opportunities for him: He competed in and won the YouTuber-focused season of The Amazing Race, and he is the host of the Go90 series Dance-Off Juniors. As his star continues to soar, we asked him a few questions about his career.
Tubefilter: How does it feel to have more than four million subscribers on YouTube? What do you have to say to your fans?
Matt Steffanina: It’s crazy — I started making videos nine years ago for fun to share my progress (don’t go back and watch them, they’re bad.) I didn’t really even understand that the videos were public, I was just sending the links to my friends and grandparents for fun.Then one day someone asked me to come teach at their studio after my video went viral, which at the time meant like 100k views. I couldn’t believe that people were watching my videos and actually liking them!
I’m so grateful for all the dancers (and non-dancers!) who have supported me. You’ve given me an opportunity to do what I love and I try my best to help you do the same. Whether it’s through YouTube tutorials, advice on Twitter, or just sharing my struggles and stories with you guys, I want to use the platform you’ve given me to support the dance community.
TF: What role does YouTube serve in your life and your career?
MS: My main focus the last eight years has been on being a professional dancer, but last year I decided to spend more time on YouTube and it was the best decision I ever made. It’s allowed me to take control of my career and have the freedom to do things my way. I’ve been producing a reality show called DanceCon for my main channel, creating concept videos, working with new artists. Also, my third channel, which is all tutorials, is over 1.5 million subscribers and allows me to teach dancers all over the world. I think any artist would agree that being able to make your own decisions is the key to happiness in this industry and YouTube gives us that.
TF: When choreographing a routine, what steps do you take to ensure it feels big and exciting?
MS: I wish I could say it comes to me in my sleep because I’d like to sleep more, but no, I spend a lot of time in the studio training, brainstorming, always trying to keep things fresh. I want to be the best version of myself and I think the way you get there is by a lot of trial and error. For every move you see in a routine I probably tried 3 other moves that I didn’t like.
TF: Do you have a favorite artist to choreograph routines for?
MS: My top 5 would be Chris Brown, Drake, Jason Derulo, Justin Bieber, and Rihanna. Unfortunately some of those artists have their music blocked for copyright reasons, but luckily there are artists like Jason who support dancers and encourage them to choreograph to their music!
TF: What’s your favorite viral dance craze?
MS: I’m going to take it back a minute and say the HARLEM SHAKE! Just loved seeing people with serious jobs in uniforms and suits acting ridiculous in the name of dance.
TF: What is a common mistake you see with people who are just learning how to dance?
MS: Relax your NECK! It might sound ridiculous, but we hold a lot of tension in our shoulders and neck. When you see people who are ‘good dancers’ at a party, they don’t even have to do an impressive move, something about them just looks natural…it’s that connection to the music, that groove, and it starts with your head.
TF: What was the coolest part of your Amazing Race experience?
MS: Being a long-time fan of the show it was crazy to be on the other side of the lens. Besides winning, which was definitely the coolest part, I would say competing against the All-Star cast. I’m mostly in the dance world and don’t know many ‘YouTubers’, so getting to see how unbelievably smart, talented, and COMPETITIVE these people were gave me so much for respect for what they’ve done. We’ve all stayed really close friends since the show and even done some collaborations together.
TF: What do you hope viewers will take away from “Dance Off Juniors”
MS: A better sense of how talented these kids are and how difficult it is to do what they do. People might see a 13-year-old in my YouTube video and think, “that kid is good”…but they don’t realize that we’ve been training together every day for the past six years for them to be able to pick up choreography that fast and perform it like that.
TF: What’s next for your channel? Any fun plans?
MS: New episodes of DanceCon are coming out soon and by popular demand I’ll be introducing some more vlog type videos into the mix. I’m living the life I dreamed about when I came to LA and I think it’s important for not just dancers, but all artists to know that there are opportunities out there waiting for you. The one thing all YouTubers share is that we all started with ZERO SUBSCRIBERS. You won’t know what’s possible until you try.
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