In the age of social media, everything is becoming increasingly more digital. And magic tricks are no exception. Just ask Collins Key, the magician best known for his jaw-dropping performances on "America's Got Talent." Key was the first ever magician born out of social media. To date, Key has amassed over 98 million YouTube video views and 1.2 million subscribers on the platform alone. He's even toured across the nation with Demi Lovato and will soon be launching a top-secret series with AT&T's Hello Lab. And with one watch of his signature card trick videos, it's no surprise to see why he's one of the most in-demand performers of our generation.
We recently caught up with the viral magician at this year's VidCon where we talked to him about what goes into making his incredible videos, his craziest fan moments, and more!
What brings you to VidCon this year?
First off, I love meeting fans. But I'm also here with AT&T's Hello Lab, where they're basically giving creators the ability to create their dream shows. I can't say what mine's about yet but I've been working super hard and it's a dream of mine that I've had for a long time. It will be coming out on my YouTube channel.
What goes into making one of your YouTube videos?
I think you have to think what can I bring to this platform that's unique. There's a lot of people on YouTube and you have to find what sets yourself apart from them. So for me, there's always a magic element involved in what I'm doing. It's also it's looking at the trends and putting your own spin on it and figuring out your own ways to set yourself apart. Creative content just wins at the end of the day.
Whats your favorite thing about social media?
My favorite thing is the fact that my ability to connect with my fans is so immediately. I can tweet them, live stream with them, or direct message them. The connection I have with them is so close and you don't see that traditionally with television stars. But with social media I'm able to connect with my audience in the most intimate way aside from meeting them in person -- which is what I'm doing here at VidCon.
Have you ever had a bizarre or crazy fan encounter?
Yes! I wear this key around my neck, it's a family heirloom and has been in my family for hundreds of years. It's very special to me. And once when I was at a meet and greet this girl gave me a huge hug -- which is great because I love hugs. But next thing I know she's trying to eat my key necklace. She's biting at the chord and has a death grip on me. That was a crazy experience right there.
How did you first get your start in magic?
I started doing magic when I was twelve years old. For me, I loved talking with people and connecting with them but I never had the initial icebreaker for a conversation. So magic gave me that ability where I could go up to any group of people at any time and immediately break the ice and create a powerful relationship with them. For someone who is super social and loves to connect, that was like a super power. It's what drew me to it. And then from there it all took off like crazy.
What was your journey like on "America's Got Talent?"
It was insane. Basically for that, I started posting videos when I was 15 on YouTube and "America's Got Talent" saw it and reached out asking me to audition for the show. I turned it down three times because the magic they had done on the show never fit my style. They were either huge illusions or they were just people the audience would make fun of. And my magic is more intimate and is centered around social media so it didn't really fit the show. I finally said yes and it was fun because I got to pioneer a new way to do magic on the show.
What advice do you have to others trying to purse their passions?
Hard work is the most important thing and number one is that you have to love it. If you love it doesn't fell like hard work. One thing that's frustrating to me about social media is that people only see the small piece of magic that I give to other people and then they see the reactions, they don't see the hours, days, months of practice and hard work that goes into it. People think that it's super easy or comes naturally to me. When I learn a new piece of magic now, it's still very difficult. Each time I do it, it's a new learning curve. If you love it stick with it, but know that the work that goes into it is a given.
What is your favorite thing about your fans?
I think one of the biggest things is that they're a super close family, which I thought would be difficult seeing how large they are. The fan base has blown up, but there's still a family feel to it. There's no fan drama and everyone in the fandom gets along. They're all so supportive of each other. That's something that's really important to me, so it's great that the people who gravitate towards me reflects that. I feel like the fan base is a reflection of the artists, so I'm luck they're so incredible. I love them.
Do your fans try and replicate your tricks?
Yes! And what's cool too is that the majority of my fan base is female and now they're interested in magic. In the history of magic, it's been 95% male, but to see so many girls taking part in the art form is amazing.
For more photos at this year's VidCon, scroll through the gallery below:
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