With close to 30,000 attendees, a slew of brand sponsors, thousands of digital media, advertising, marketing, and entertainment industry executives, and over 300 featured creators—not to mention all the prominent creators who aren’t featured—the massive online video industry event that is VidCon is a fantastic, if not hectic, time and place to make some deals. But navigating the four-day event and making the most of the opportunities within isn’t something one can do with a lackadaisical attitude. It takes careful planning, plenty of caffeine, a keen business sense, and some social charm.
And perhaps few people do VidCon better than Andrew Graham.
VidCon 2017 marks six years of attending for Graham, who is truly an industry vet. Having worked as a senior talent manager at both Fullscreen and Big Frame, Graham has been at CAA since last April, managing talent like Connor Franta (with whom he and Jeremy Wineberg co-founded the record label Heard Well), Ariel Martin, Cole&Sav, Jack & Jack, and more.
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Here’s what a few days in the life look like for Graham at VidCon in 2017:
Wednesday, June 21
4:00 PM – Turn on OOO email responder, depart CAA, and roll calls for 2+ hour drive to Anaheim.
6:30 PM – Check-in to the Hilton Anaheim. Survey the hotel room floor for fans hoping to catch a glimpse of talent.
6:31 PM – Triple check I have earplugs.
6:32 PM – Catch-up on emails/deal with any fires I missed while driving down from LA.
7:00 PM – Check in with Adrienne Bertin, Talent Relations Manager at VidCon. Adrienne is the gatekeeper to all that intersects talent at VidCon. She is a representative’s lifeline at the conference and has a few very long days ahead. I pay my respects and thank her for accommodating me and my seven CAA colleagues.
8:00 PM – Dinner with Tom DeNapoli of Viacom Velocity at Morton Stake House, which is pretty much The Grill of VidCon.
10:00 PM – Check-out Hilton lobby bar for managers, buyers, press, and industry insiders.
11:30PM – Shower and bed. (This is my sixth VidCon. Only rookies go hard on night one.)
Thursday, June 22
6:15 AM – 6:30 AM – Hit snooze button repeatedly
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM – Workout
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Breakfast solo. Peruse schedule for the next three days and prioritize meetings with clients, buyers, and talent. Start a group text thread with talent agent colleagues and pray no one has an Android phone because you can’t add Android users to iMessage groups. (That green text bubble gives me anxiety.)
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Walk the expo floor with colleague Nick Lafferty. It’s Nick’s first VidCon and coming from the TV space you can see his gears turning. We ask fans who they are most excited for this year (there’s no better weathervane of what’s hot in digital than a 15-year-old fan).
Visit various green rooms; catch-up with clients, managers, and prospective clients. Set follow-up meetings in LA for talent and managers that the digital team at CAA is actively pursuing. One in particular is interested in touring, might make sense for to link them with our client Jared Leto’s live events company, Adventures In Wonderland.
12:30 PM – 1:00 PM – Spot Jhanteigh Kupihea and other editors from Simon & Schuster, one of the most active publishers in our space and publisher of two-time New York Times Bestseller, client Connor Franta’s books. Schmooze a bit, discuss a few offers they have out to other CAA clients and tee them up for a forthcoming faith-based book from a new client. I know my colleague Cait Hoyt, our book whisperer out of NYC, who has done 10 publishing deals for digital talent in the last 12 months, will be calling about this soon, so I want to plant some seeds. Discuss their POV on the talent this year and who, and what trends, they’re tracking. It’s always interesting to get a buyer’s POV on who is hot, who is not…and who has been a good author to work with. Sales are important but sometimes life is too short and buyers can help you avoid land minds with certain signings.
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Meet-up with some of the CAA’s Digital Talent Brand Partnerships team, who is out in full force this year, to accompany a few clients to a meeting with Mike Curtis from Reach Agency and DiGiorno Pizza.
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM – My colleague Scott Iason, who lives 50% in the branded world and 50% in the content world, and I jump out of the DiGiorno meeting to connect with Eric Day, principal of production company client INE. INE is one of the most prolific producers in the digital content space and the production company behind the hugely successful series Top Grier on Rated Red/Go90. We are on the one yard line for a series with YouTube Red and need to track down Ben Relles to try to get it over the goal line.
2:30PM – 3:00 PM – Connect with clients Kian Lawley and JC Caylen for their interview with People Magazine’s Instant platform.
3:00 PM – 3:30 PM – Intersect client Ariel Martin (aka Baby Ariel), her management, and parents at her meet-and-greet. Introduce my new colleague Kyle Udelson, who just joined us from Kin Community, to Ariel’s team. Kyle is a secret weapon when it comes to branded content and media. Given Ariel’s stature as the reigning queen of Musical.ly and her PG nature, she’s going to see a lot of value having Kyle in her business.
3:30 PM – 4:00 PM – Catch the first 30 minutes of Gabbie Hanna’s panel on “The Death of Vine” (wasn’t it just three years ago I was kicking myself for not taking Vine seriously enough…now it’s gone. Didn’t make that mistake a second time with Musical.ly!).
4:00 PM -4:45 PM – Catch-up with Instagram exec Justin Antony at Instagram Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom’s fireside chat. Instagram is throwing a beach party back in LA next week and we run through a CAA client guest list. I throw a few talent who I’m pursuing into the mix, can’t hurt 😀
4:45 PM – 5:30 PM – Slip into Marni Walden, EVP and President of Media at Verizon, Industry Keynote talk. We do an incredible amount of business across Rated Red, Complex, and Go90. It’s always important to show our support in these rooms.
5:30 PM – 6:00 PM – Catch-up on calls and emails back at hotel. Change clothes and head to the Calvin Klein lounge to say hello to Jessica Jenkins. CAA has brokered several very significant deals this year for Kian Lawley and Liza Koshy for on-site activations.
— Liza Koshy (@lizakoshy) June 23, 2017
I stop in to say hello and make sure everything is running smoothly. I take a selfie with Jessica to send to Connor Franta, a client who has done a lot of business with Jessica and CK. Connor isn’t at VidCon this year and this is sure to make him jealous!
6:00PM – 7:00 PM – Hang out in various talent lounges and hobnob. This is one of the advantages of having an All Access Badge. If you have access to the talent lounges at VidCon, then you’re at the epicenter of power and horse trading…and once the various open bars in the lounges start pouring, there are a lot of racehorses to be discussed. The CAA team is out in force brokering introductions between buyers and talent and managers and agents. It’s like watching a well-heeled basketball team run play after play, passing the ball up and down the court.
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Dinner with the Calvin Klein group. CAA rolls deep and I bring along colleagues Carla Santiago, Tori Wechler, and Kyle Udelson, who intersect brands at CAA. It’s been a dream of Kian Lawley’s to do some work in the fashion space so this is a big win for us. CK’s been a good partner and we discuss how to go deeper for their forthcoming Fall Campaign. This could be a good opportunity for our new client, Tanner Braungardt, who is extremely active in the direct-to-consumer apparel space.
9:00 PM – 10:30 PM – Jet to YouTube Hyatt party to meet new client Coyote Peterson, the largest outdoorsman on YouTube (think Indiana Jones meets Steve Irwin), who has driven down from meetings in LA to attend YouTube’s party. This is one of the hardest parties to get in to and tonight, I am Coyote’s Sherpa, introducing him to buyers, Google execs from Asia (his audience is global and he’s like to talk through APAC strategy) and talent he should collaborate with. We grab whatever hors d’oeuvres we can between on-the-fly handshakes and greetings.
I bump into my colleague C.C. Hirsch, who has flown in to cover Mamrie Hart, a client she has represented for more than half a decade (basically a century in digital years). She connects Coyote with Nadine Zylstra from YouTube Kids. C.C. is a wizard in the lit space; maybe there’s a show somewhere in there. I stay glued to the guys for most of the party. It was a very competitive signing and I can see my competitors vying for an opportunity to try to get an audience.
10:30 PM – 12:30 AM – Catch the tail end of the Fullscreen party and scramble to get colleagues and clients in with me. I hunt down Scott Reich, SVP of Programming at Fullscreen, to discuss a season two pickup of Kian Lawley and JC Caylen’s series H8TERS, which our clients Astronauts Wanted produced.
12:30AM – 1:00AM – Stumble back to my room. Crack open my laptop, but instead decide to just call it a night.