Content creators on YouTube are a dime a dozen these days, with the internet being completely oversaturated with aspiring Let’s Players, and it is very rare to find someone who can break through the mould. I recently got the chance to speak to (and when I say speak to, I mean exchange emails with) one of my favourite content creators on YouTube. His name is Kevin O’Reilly, and he is from Cork, though he is known in the YouTube space as ‘Call Me Kevin’. Some of you may be familiar with Kevin because you’re fans of his channel, and some of you may remember him from his How to Annoy People series that featured on Machinima, one of the largest gaming YouTube channels at the time. The success of the original series was unparalleled at the time, as Kevin points out himself: “The second episode got a million views within a week, at the time that was huge!” That video now sits at over six million views, with the full playlist of How to Annoy People videos having amassed over 70 million views by the time of writing. Kevin emulated this success on his own personal channel, which currently has over 450,000 subscribers with 116 million views on his videos, though some subscribers may have left due to Kevin deciding to start afresh on a new channel, Call Me Kevin.
The final video he posted to his old channel was on the 18th of October, entitled “Time to Start Again – New Channel.” The main reason, as he outlines in the video, is he wants to establish a new identity: “I’ve been on YouTube a very very long time, seven years since 2009, that’s pretty crazy, almost to the month. Yeah, in a few weeks it’ll be seven years so that’s a very long time, and obviously my channel has grown a lot during that time but it’s also changed a lot during that time. So, people who subscribed to me many years ago aren’t particularly happy with new content I’ve been making and I want to focus on that new content and not worry about old subscribers not liking that content. I want, kind of a new bit of identity, and to start anew basically.” Having been a fan of Kevin’s since his early days with Machinima, I decided to reach out and ask him some questions about his experience as a content creator.
Express: What made you want to start making videos?
Kevin: I always loved the idea of creating videos and combined with my love of gaming, it was a great opportunity at the time. My first videos were little montages of gaming clips with audio clips from TV shows and maybe voice actors to try and be funny (They usually weren’t). It was really fun to try and teach myself how to make those videos and figure things out as I made them. I had no idea you could make money from it at the time, it was all just good fun!
Express: Living in Ireland / Cork, who were your influences to start YouTube?
Kevin: At the time, I actually wasn’t aware of any Irish gaming YouTubers, I really liked the crew at Machinima. Seannaners & Hutch were some of the first to do gaming videos and I think they inspired a lot of people as well as myself.
Express: What was it like making the How to Annoy People videos? Did people start to recognise you, and do they recognise you now?
Kevin: It was great fun, it got harder as people started to know who I was. The second episode got a million views within a week, at the time that was huge! Once a few more followed the same trend, a lot of players on Xbox knew me by my voice even if I had different gamertags. Surprisingly people still recognise me from that series!
Express: Has anybody ever recognised you on the street in Cork?
Kevin: It happens maybe once a month where someone will come up and talk to me, it’s always cool! It still always catches me by surprise and there is always that issue of “Do I know this person from somewhere or do they know me from YouTube?”
Express: Do you watch a lot of YouTube in your spare time, and what are some of your own personal favourite YouTubers?
Kevin: I don’t watch a lot anymore sadly, H3H3 and VSauce are probably my favourites right now but there are so many great channels and content creators out there.
Express: What made you want to start a new channel and leave the old channel behind?
Kevin: I think it was time to start again, I really appreciate any support I get but it was hard to get any idea of what is going well and what isn’t when any subscribers you gain are cancelled out by closed inactive accounts.
Express: What’s your favourite game at the moment, or your favourite nostalgic game?
Kevin: Stardew Valley is my new drug, not normally my type of game but I just need one more hit and I’m off it for good, I swear. Hype: The Time Quest was a game I played as a kid, not very popular but will always have a place in my nerdy gaming heart.
Express: So about your time with Machinima; what was it like working for them? Did they give you a contract, and if so can you tell me what kind of contract it was?
Kevin: I had and still have contracts with Machinima, they have always been great to me and the contracts can differ. Some are per 1000 views you get ‘x amount’ of money, some are entirely depending on the ad revenue brought in by Google.
Express: Were Machinima heavily involved in the production of your videos or did they allow you some creative freedom?
Kevin: Machinima have been involved with some content I have posted to their channel but mostly I’m in the driver seat and they have no input on videos that go on my channel. I think Machinima know it’s best to leave people make their own content!
Express: If you could give one piece of advice to someone wanting to start YouTube, what would it be?
Kevin: Do what you enjoy, it will crush your soul to try and force yourself to make content you don’t enjoy and people can see that in the final product.