A look at Sri Lanka’s first YouTube Open Mic Night

A testament to Sri Lanka’s growing tech-savvy population, YouTube’s first ever Open Mic Night at the Shangri-La Hotel was nothing short of a roaring success.

At dusk on 8 August 2018, YouTubers, tech specialists, and enthusiasts of all ages were in full attendance at the hotel’s opulent Spice Room. With a waiting list of more than 800 sign-ups, the lucky 200 participants were not just privy to advice and insights from industry leaders but also found a sense of community among other passionate and dedicated users of this platform.

YouTube is the world’s leading video sharing platform, boasting a whopping 1.57 billion active users as of May 2018. It is also the second largest search engine in the world and is a prominent platform for cross-cultural engagement and expression.

Sri Lanka is no stranger to this. In fact, the country has over 2.5 million unique visitors on YouTube every day, with almost 30 million videos being watched every 24 hours. In this regard, the event was particularly noteworthy as it was the first time the country’s YouTube population was brought together under one roof.

Organised by the Google Business Group in partnership with Google Sri Lanka, other collaborators for the event included dynamic creative forces such as IdeaHell, who was recently awarded the covetous MCN – YouTube’s Multi-Channel Network status.

With this, users around the country now have the opportunity to monetise the work they do on this platform. With inspiration like Lilly Singh’s channel, ‘IISuperwomanII’, and other breakout stars, the thrill of monetising work on the video streaming site is likely to provide many enthusiasts a unique and enjoyable way of furthering their career and talents.

Speaking about this trend in the country, Sajini Jayawardena, Manager of the Google Business Group in Sri Lanka, noted that in the past three years, demand for YouTube had skyrocketed. The fact that no official meetup connecting various creative forces and support-driven entities such as Google and IdeaHell had ever taken place, was the propeller of this hyped affair.

Surprised to see close to 200 enthusiastic attendees at the event, she added that the Open Mic Night was a chance for individuals to share their experiences, take up the limelight, and revel in the collective inspiration the event brought to life. She was also quick to note that with the support of IdeaHell, the first ever creator space in Sri Lanka, access to video equipment, video editing tools and services, and other aspects relating to visual performance, are now easily available.

In fact, with IdeaHell reportedly processing around 500 MCN signups gathered over a period of two weeks, it won’t be long before Sri Lanka has its own YouTube breakout star (or stars) reaching global heights.

Following a series of talks presented by industry experts covering insightful technical knowledge, industry know-how, and more, local success stories were shared to thundering applause. The evening ended on a light note, with an open mic session featuring an array of performances – from stitch-inducing stand-up routines to mesmerising displays of magic – just a taste of what Sri Lankans have to offer the world through the likes of YouTube.

By Archana Heenpella