Social media content creators (from left) Tamo_TV's Simon Tomlinson; husband-and-wife duo of Wayne Marshall and Tami Chynn; comedic duo of Fancy Cat and Ity Ellis; and Juliet "Julie Mango" Bodley with YouTube's Rachel Jackson at the opening session dubbed 'We Are All Creators' of the inaugural Island Music Conference held at the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew on Wednesday. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

WHILE COVID-19 crippled the entertainment sector for nearly two years, it certainly gave several Jamaican YouTubers a fillip and new followers.

That was one of the revelations at Wednesday's session of the inaugural Island Music Conference (IMC) held at the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew. The session was titled 'We Are All Creators'.

"I had to try convincing Wayne [Marshall] for eight years to do a vlog. He said to me: 'Weh yuh a chat 'bout vlog. What is a vlog? Nuh blog it name?' I was like, 'No, it's a video log.' And then, I'm going to say something that nobody ever says: 'Thank God COVID came' as we were stuck at home. I was like, 'How about that vlog?' It wasn't an option to earn before that. And even in a million years I never thought it would be a job, job, job that we would show up three times a week," shared Tami Chynn, who was one of the panellists on Monday.

"We have transitioned into a whole new career because of YouTube and it's been incredible," she continued.

Tami Chynn and hubby Wayne Marshall were full-time entertainers before their YouTube series Meet the Mitchells. it chronicles the day-to-day life of the celebrity couple as they raise a family. Chynn's sister, singer Tessanne Chin, and the couple's parents also make guest appearances on the series.

In December 2022, the YouTube series transitioned to a wider audience on CVM TV.

Former table tennis player-turned-YouTuber Simon Tomlinson of Tamo_TV shared his foray into the social media arena.

"It started off by accident, so I consider myself lucky when it comes to creating content. The things that I've created are just real life that I've put on camera. The first video that went crazy was a typical thing — you just forget to take the chicken out of the freezer. No chicken out the freezer, I didn't clean my room or anything. So mommy came home, I mean Tania [McDonald-Tomlinson], so I thought to myself: 'Oh, I didn't do anything she told me to do. Wait, this could be a video.' And I woke up the next morning and it had half-a-million views. So I said, 'This is something that can work.' So I just kept on doing it. Shortly after I hit a million views... I don't want to repeat it a million times, but thank God for COVID because it forced you into an environment where creating a content, it was the only way you could," he told the audience.

"Before COVID, I go outside, nobody knows me, it doesn't matter. The day after, everybody: 'I know you from your videos,' " he continued.

COVID-19, however, had a deleterious effect on other areas of Jamaica's entertainment sector, which was shuttered from March 2020 to March 2022. Government estimates indicate the sector lost more than $26 billion for the period, pushing Prime Minister andrew holness' administration to throw a $90-million lifeline to the sector via a stimulus in late 2021.

Other panellists at the IMC included comedic duo Ity and Fancy Cat and the hugely popular Juliet "Julie Mango" Bodley, while the moderator was YouTube's Rachel Jackson.

The point was also emphasised that authentic videos which resonate with viewers are always a plus.

According to Fancy Cat, there is no shortage of content in Jamaica.

"That is why our show was so funny, because a lot of the stuff we did on it was there right in front of you. So we created a lane where people can make fun of themselves and nuh feel nuh way about it," he said.

IMC — the brainchild of Shaggy, Sharon Burke, and Judith Bodley — continues today at the Courtleigh Auditorium in St Andrew.

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto & Entertainment

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