VidCon is a weird event. Over the last 13 years, the event has transitioned from just a fan convention to an industry-forward gathering where you’ll mingle with venture capitalists and Hatsune Miku cosplayers alike. Now, after pulling off its first ever east coast event, VidCon will return to Anaheim, California on June 26-29, 2024.
VidCon is the premiere event for online creators, founded by two legendary creators themselves, John and Hank Green. The brothers sold VidCon to Paramount in 2018, but the conference’s events were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic. Still, attendance is on the rise. The flagship event in Anaheim drew 55,000 attendees this year, up 10 percent from the previous year.
When VidCon announced its first attempt at an east coast gathering in Baltimore, reception was mixed — it’s hard to imagine such a monstrously large event taking place in a satellite location, let alone one that isn’t known for its entertainment industries. As expected, VidCon Baltimore turned out to be significantly smaller than the Anaheim event. While the expo hall in Anaheim feels like a carnival (you can get strapped into a human-sized claw machine to win a Squishmallow), Baltimore’s expo hall was, you know, a basement in Baltimore.
Regardless, VidCon Baltimore drew 8,500 attendees over four days (the same length as Anaheim’s event). And the smaller stage lets the creator conference try new things, which is useful for an event which, like the rest of the creator industry, has been in flux.
For years, VidCon was almost synonymous with YouTube and YouTubers, but for the first time in 2022, VidCon’s title sponsor was TikTok. The creator economy’s new vanguard — like the D’Amelio sisters, the Kardashians for Gen Z — made their first descent on the event. But in 2023, YouTube took the title billing again. It’s indicative of larger trends in the creator economy, that while TikTok was the shiniest new thing for a while, creators are now disillusioned with the app’s low payouts.
For a decentralized industry of worldwide creators, these conferences offer a rare opportunity to get stakeholders in the same room — so, for the first time, VidCon hosted an industry leadership summit, where creator economy experts and creators could hash out their grievances with the state of the business, and share ideas to make the job of a creator more sustainable.
Even in a smaller environment like VidCon Baltimore, there’s too many cooks in the kitchen, and it’s hard to accomplish more than a surface-level exchange of ideas when you’re meeting a room full of people for the first time in a convention center. There’s no word yet on whether or not VidCon will return to Baltimore, but hey, there’s always Anaheim.