The rise of ASMR videos and the YouTube stars behind them

Global Business

Here’s an acronym that may be new to many people: ASMR. It stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and it describes the relaxing, tingling feeling some people experience when they hear certain sounds or see certain images.

ASMR has spawned a whole genre of YouTube videos along with new stars who create them. CGTN’s Hendrik Sybrandy introduces us to one popular young artist in the U.S. state of Colorado.

Makenna Kelly has a most unusual hobby.

Not too many 13-year-olds, soon to be 9th graders, turn their bedrooms into T.V. studios.

But that’s what we discovered when we dropped by Makenna’s Fort Collins, Colorado home.

Here’s where she records her ASMR videos.

“It’s the sensation of when your mom or your friend will play with your hair and it kind of gives you the chills or the goosebumps,” Kelly said.

In her case, it’s sounds created with her voice and her fingernails on a variety of different surfaces, almost therapeutic tones meant to relax her viewers.

Her “Life with MaK” channel has made her a YouTube sensation.

“I just get a lot of comments,” Kelly said, “like it helps with anxiety and depression and whatnot. It’s so crazy to me that whispering into a microphone can help so many people with something so big.”

She got the idea a couple of years ago while watching other ASMR videos. She thought she’d try it herself.

“I noticed my sub counts going up and up and up and the video views were going up and up and up,” Kelly said.

“Every time I’d wake up, I’d have like 50,000 more subscribers. I’m like this is crazy.”

She’s up to nearly 1.6 million subscribers now. Her 275 videos have been viewed more than a hundred million times.

“I think the last time I checked it was like 111 million, which is a lot,” she said.

“I think what sets my videos apart is just my personality. I’m really bubbly and I’m really honest and just truthful and I’m not afraid to show anything I do. I don’t have anything to hide.”

But almost two years after she began with all this, Makenna has encountered social media’s dark side.

According to her mother, YouTube has begun taking down some videos made by minors out of concern that pedophiles might be watching them.

Her most popular post of her eating a honeycomb was among those deleted.

“I get hate comments but I can’t really tell you any of them cause I don’t look at them. I just ignore them. It just doesn’t bother me. There’s always going to be people that hate me for anything I do.”

She has sponsors, sells merchandise and gets fan mail from her target audience, teenagers.

“It’s incredible. I run into my fans a lot, pretty much everywhere I go now.”

Her YouTube wave hasn’t crested just yet.

“I think it’s just going to get bigger and bigger I’m hoping, and new things will be experienced with it each day.”

It’s all a prelude, Makenna says, to her eventual career. You can probably guess. Acting.