Little Mix may be responsible for this year’s “official” Sport Relief telethon single, which airs in the UK on Friday, but they have competition with five fresh-faced YouTube stars.
Marcus Butler, Joe Sugg, Jim Chapman, Caspar Lee and Alfie Deyes have teamed up as “YouTube Boy Band” to record a cover of It’s All About You by McFly, which airs on Sport Relief’s parent charity channel, Comic Relief.
Released on March 20, the video has been shown more than 120,000 times so far, with fans encouraged to donate to Sport Relief online or via text message after watching it.
The video’s views are likely to climb over the course of the day, given the popularity on YouTube of the group’s five members. Butler’s own channel has 2.2 million subscribers, followed by Lee (2 million), Deyes (2 million), Sugg (1.7 million) and Chapman (1.3 million).
Butler, Deyes, Sugg and Chapman are four of the most popular UK YouTube users, while Lee is from South Africa. Collectively, their channels have generated 384 million views on Google’s video service.
The charity song follows a video – “The Boyband YouTube”- created by Butler, Deyes, Sugg and Chapman in December 2013, which has since been viewed nearly 1.3 million times.
Sport Relief’s decision to work with all five stars on an alternate song for this year’s event shows the growing weight of YouTube, especially with young music fans.
According to Nielsen / NetRatings, YouTube attracted 19.1 million unique visitors in July 2013, while a survey this month by digital music service Bloom.fm suggested that 70% of UK music fans have listened to music on YouTube.
Collaborations among YouTube users are common and are an essential way for users to build audiences on the service. In 2013, four other British YouTubers – Dan Howell, Phil Lester, Emma Blackery and Stuart Ashen – teamed up to take part in a remake of the 1980s children’s TV show Knightmare.
Five others – Alex Day, Charlie McDonnell, Liam Dryden, Ed Blann and Michael Aranda – released a Doctor Who themed music video. These two collaborations were part of YouTube’s “Geek Week” on the theme of science fiction, comics and games.