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Businessinsider - 8 days ago

The queen of brain tingles and YouTube s ASMR subculture explains her career rise and why she still lies about what she does for a living

Gibi ASMR is a 24-year-old YouTuber at the helm of one of the most popular ASMR channels on the platform.  Gibi told Insider that she started her channel, which currently has over 2.3 million subscribers, the summer before her senior year of college.  By treating the Gibi ASMR channel like a job, Gibi was able to turn her relaxing whispers into her full-time career. Here s how she emerged as one of the most recognizable faces of the wildly popular YouTube genre that helps listeners unwind and fall asleep at night. Visit Insider s homepage for more stories. Over the past few years, Gibi ASMR has emerged as one of the most recognizable faces of the YouTube subgenre dedicated to the art of helping people relax through the internet-coined phenomenon ASMR. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response – it s not an official medical or psychological term, although the first ever scientific studies on ASMR are beginning to report findings that show the brain tingles can improve mental and physical health. The relaxing sensation of ASMR, described by most in the community as tingles that are similar to shivers down your spine, can result from naturally occurring scenarios in everyday life. But the ASMR YouTube community seeks to create tingles through videos that use triggers, which commonly include whispers, tapping, and roleplay scenarios that play out onscreen. The term ASMR was created and popularized in online forums in the mid-2000s, and the first YouTube videos that were intentionally created for ASMR surfaced around 2009. Gibi ASMR, who is now one of the top 5 most popular ASMR creators with more than 2.3 million subscribers, started her channel in June 2016.  As a fan of ASMR for almost a decade, Gibi (who doesn t disclose her real name for privacy concerns) knew that she wanted to make a career out of her ASMR YouTube channel. As she prepared to graduate college, Gibi told Insider how she was able to turn that dream into a reality. Gibi first discovered ASMR in high school, when she couldn t fall asleep at night because of her anxiety. Around 2010, when Gibi was a sophomore in high school, she turned to YouTube videos to help her fall asleep. Going to bed caused her anxiety and gave panic attacks, so she watched YouTubers to distract herself, and found that makeup tutorials and the soothing voices that accompanied them could help her doze off. However, she would often wake up in the middle of the night when the videos became too loud. One night, Gibi stumbled across massage videos, which resulted in ASMR whispering videos showing up on her recommended page. She found a Wikipedia page for ASMR and realized that she had this thing that she had never been able to put into words before. It was something so personal to me and I never ever talked about it because I didn t think it was normal to talk about it, Gibi told Insider. So when I found out other people were making content specifically to elicit that feeling, and the fact that it doubled as a perfect sleep aid, I was hooked. One of Gibi s early favorite channels was Heather Feather ASMR an ASMR creator she would later go on to work with. Youtube Embed:
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She has been watching ASMR videos for almost a decade, but spent several years lurking in the community. For the rest of high school and throughout the first three years of college, Gibi kept watching ASMR videos almost every night to help her fall asleep. During the first wave of ASMR content on YouTube, which was typically identified less as ASMR, a relatively unknown phenomenon, and more as whispering and relaxation videos, she watched those. Then, as the first ASMR channels began to gain prominence online, and communities on sites like Reddit began to form so that ASMR enthusiasts could share content and connect, Gibi started watching anything and anyone, developing a knowledge base of just about every creator at the time. But she never commented on videos and remained a lurker in the ASMR community up until she decided to start making them herself. Another channel she watched early on was Gentle Whispering ASMR, who previously held the crown for most subscribers in the community, and is still in the top 10. Youtube Embed:
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Gibi was a film major at Northwestern University when she decided to start her YouTube channel. At Northwestern University, Gibi studied film and became comfortable both behind and in front of a camera. She also learned how to edit videos and had a computer set up in her apartment to do so. That, in addition to her dream of starting a YouTube channel, gave her the idea to jump into ASMR the summer before her senior year. What really appealed to me was ASMR because it s very user-friendly to start. You can do it by yourself, you don t need anyone else, Gibi said. And I knew this community so well, I was very comfortable starting. I knew what I wanted to do, where my strengths lie.

She got her hands on a Blue Yeti microphone and created Gibi ASMR. That summer, Gibi also started to get into cosplay and began going to anime conventions. She bought a second-hand DSLR camera to take pictures of her cosplays. At the same time, she was a film intern at a start-up, and found out her boss had a Blue Yeti microphone the microphone of choice for ASMR YouTubers. She knew that it was the perfect time to start her channel, and that if it took off during her senior year, she could turn her dream career on YouTube into a reality. So in June 2016, she launched Gibi ASMR. Youtube Embed:
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Gibi considers herself a third-wave ASMR creator, and the timing of the genre s viral blow-up online was perfect for her channel s success. At the same time that Gibi launched her channel, ASMR was undergoing a global movement. She describes it as the third wave of the community. The initial ASMR channels had built up enough momentum that the rest of the internet was starting to catch on, and the unfamiliar, strange aspects of people whispering to their cameras and acting out roleplays started going viral. ASMR became a huge meme, and it boosted almost everyone s channels. I always say that I was really lucky because I was familiar with the community before and I had tabs on it, Gibi told Insider. I was like, This community is not saturated, there s a space for new creators, and I want to be that. I want to be a new creator. So I started my channel and it all blew up right at that time. Youtube Embed:
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Her subscriber growth has been steady ever since, but she never had a major viral moment like some other ASMR channels. While some ASMR creators, like 13-year-old Life with MaK, blew up overnight with videos that went viral and became memes in themselves, Gibi has never had a video go instantly viral (at least, not yet). Rather, her channel has experienced long-term, steady growth, pushing her into the top 5 most subscribed-to ASMR channels in just three years.

Gibi treated her ASMR channel like it was her job, and soon enough, it became her full-time career. From the beginning, Gibi took her channel very, very seriously. She stuck to a strict posting schedule and worked her way up the YouTube monetization benchmarks until she could start making money from ads. I was like I don t want to go work at a post-production house. I want to make videos myself, I love this community, and if I could do this for a living that would be incredible, Gibi said. I really thought If I put effort into this and treat it like a job, I can have a chance at making it a job.

She makes a variety of ASMR videos, touching on different subgenres and embracing characters and cosplay. Gibi told Insider she can get bored if she sticks to one type of video, and her audience responds well to her experimentation. From the beginning, she explored roleplaying different fictional characters, and even created recurring characters of her own, like Daisy, a Gibi ASMR regular who wears dark lipstick and a bright blue wig. Her most popular videos are roleplays like the cranial nerve exam (a staple video in the ASMR community that involves testing the viewer s five senses), a sleep clinic roleplay, and more trigger-heavy videos like close-up whispers with dual microphones. The most-watched Gibi ASMR video is a Dark Relaxing Tapping Scratching video that has over 16 million views. Youtube Embed:
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Early into her career as an ASMR creator, Gibi s editor suggested she try Twitch. As a senior in college and a full-time student on top of a time-intensive ASMR creator, Gibi hired a video editor to help her manage her blossoming channel. He suggested she try Twitch, the live streaming platform beloved by video game streamers that also has a Just Chatting community where streamers interact with fans in other ways. It actually got quite lonely being an ASMR creator. The comment section on YouTube is not great to communicate with people, Gibi said. So Twitch was great for anybody who was curious in talking or hanging out, getting to know me outside the ASMR realm, we d hang out there. Gibi is partnered with Twitch and has over 150,000 followers. Her Twitch content includes video game streaming, some ASMR content, and streams in the Just Chatting category on the platform. She also streams games like Kingdom Hearts 2, Life Is Strange Before The Storm, and Five Nights at Freddy s.

Since joining Twitch, Gibi has made some of her best friends on the streaming platform. Through interacting with fans on Twitch, Gibi ended up making close, real-life friendships, too. I made my best friends, she said. We met because they watched my videos, like that was our connection. They ve become true friends. I hang out with them. One of them worked for me this summer, came over all summer and helped me with filming.

Gibi s husband Ben transitioned into running the business side of her channel, and the two have since grown their network of ASMR creators. Gibi s video editor was her first hire, but her then-boyfriend Ben (the two got married this summer) eventually got involved in her channel, too. He got his Master s in business and he was bored at work and I was like Why aren t you doing my sponsorships? Why aren t you my manager, basically? Gibi said. As her channel took off, she started advocating for sponsorships for herself a way most popular YouTubers supplement the oftentimes shaky source of income that is YouTube s AdSense program. But Gibi told Insider it can be hard to get advertisers to take her seriously, and she hates negotiating. Not only does Gibi s husband handle the business-side aspects of her channel for her, but as other ASMR creators got big enough to go full-time and reached out to her for advice, she directed them to Ben. The two now command an ASMR network of more than 15 other ASMR creators who they help handle sponsorships and other income streams for.

They re also working on launching an ASMR subscription app called Zees. In late August, Gibi announced that she and other ASMR creators were producing an ASMR app called Zees. The app is intended to be a subscription-based ASMR video streaming app that s completely separate from YouTube, and also includes features that improve the listening experience for users, such as offline viewing through downloadable content. It also doesn t have ads, in exchange for a $9.99 a month. It includes many of the top ASMR creators on YouTube, including ASMR Darling, who has more than 2.4 million subscribers, and more of the most recognizable ASMR channels. ASMRtists in general have had very specific monetization issues, sometimes YouTube doesn t like us, sometimes they do, Gibi said. I ll have a video demonetized and another video trending the next day. So it s like, What do you want? We wanted to make a place from inside us and that s kind of where it started from. The app has yet to launch for purchase, with mixed responses from the comment section under Gibi s announcement videos. It s unclear whether the audience for free ASMR videos on YouTube is ready to pay for a monthly ASMR subscription although the custom ASMR market is profitable for many creators, too.

Gibi uploads videos three times a week, and likes to stay two weeks ahead of herself at a time to stay organized. In order to stay on top of her posting schedule, which is three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Gibi likes to stay ahead of herself so that she s never rushing to push content out. She has a content calendar for the upcoming month where she schedules what videos she wants to make, and likes to have six videos filmed, edited, and ready to go at any given time so that she is always two weeks ahead. Filming is hard to do because there are a lot of things that can make it not happen, Gibi said. If it s too windy, or if it s raining, if there s a party downstairs, if there s construction. I just have to get lucky.

She scripts her character roleplay videos, but is also comfortable improvising. Gibi has documents on her computer for planning each video, including scripting. For a specific character, like Hermione Granger, Gibi likes to write a complete script for the video, so that she can stay true to the character s voice and personalization. For more generic ASMR videos, like a haircut, she just grabs whatever tools she thinks she ll need and improvises. Youtube Embed:
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Height: 315px Her improvisational skills partly stem from her background in acting. Gibi told Insider she loved being onstage and thought she would be an actress as a kid. She decided to pursue film because it seemed like a more realistic career option than theater, and has taken acting and improv classes throughout her life.

Gibi puts a lot of care into keeping her identity private, which can be difficult on the internet in 2019. Unlike most contemporary internet celebrities, Gibi has successfully withheld key identifying information from her audience, including her real name. Her take on internet celebrity is that it s not her place to involve her family and friends in the spotlight she s created for herself. A lot of things with friends and family, I m like They didn t really sign up for this, so I try not to talk about or show anything like that unless they want to, she said. That s my biggest boundary. It s my channel, you can ask me about my stuff, but it s not really my duty to shine a light on other peoples lives that I know. It wasn t easy to hide her personal information. Gibi told Insider she had to put herself in the shoes of an internet stalker and go through all her social media profiles to make sure there isn t traceable information.

Back when Gibi first started watching ASMR videos, she knew every creator. But now, there are thousands. As the ASMR community has continued to expand over the past decade, Gibi says it s been crazy to watch ASMR channels pop up in massive numbers. I used to know every ASMR creator, I knew who everyone was. Now there are thousands, she said. And if you search something ASMR-style, you ll probably find it now. There isn t a lot that people haven t done. We re even starting to form micro-communities within the ASMR community depending on what type of ASMR you like. She noted that a lot of media attention in the third wave of the ASMR community referred to it as a new trend, implying that it would rise and fall like many of the other subgenres on YouTube that have enjoyed viral popularity before fading away, such as draw your life-themed videos and song skits (although those mostly disappeared due to stricter copyright rules). But Gibi says ASMR isn t a trend so much as a tool that people in the community use on a regular, if not daily, basis, and that has been active online for ten years.

She s also glad that ASMR isn t regarded as sexual as much anymore. When ASMR first started grabbing everyone s attention online, especially with channels led by kids and young teenagers, a lot of concern arose from those who regarded the phenomenon as sexual. Gibi was one of the bigger channels who spoke out against the misconception that genuine ASMR is a sexual fetish. Hundreds of creators have answered that hundreds of times, and even scientists now. There have been a couple of studies that are like, Well, we see that ASMR lowers the heart rate, Gibi told Insider. I m like A-ha! It s actually gotten a lot better, I think that when people are more informed, stereotypes go down.

For now, she sometimes avoids telling people what she does for a living. Gibi says most everyone on the internet knows about ASMR now, but in real life, she still ends up having to explain the genre to people who were totally unaware it existed. Sometimes, she ll just avoid telling people what she does for a living altogether. Sometimes I ll lie because I don t feel like talking about it, in an Uber or something. I ll be like Oh, I m in marketing, she told Insider.

As ASMR has become more well-known, Gibi predicts it will enter into more entertainment mediums. Now that she says people see ASMR less as a trend that will fade away, Gibi thinks the phenomenon will enter more mainstream entertainment. With anything that s successful, people are going to pick it up all over the place, she said. You re going to see ASMR in TV, in movies, in a lot more commercials, probably in anything you can imagine. People want to try it, it s inevitable. She noted that it isn t a bad thing that ASMR is becoming more commercialized, because there will always be a dedicated fanbase for the casual ASMR videos online that people can use most effectively for their actual sleep and relaxation needs.



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