Let’s all be honest with life for a second. TV is slowly dying. Social media and live streaming platforms are taking over the way we view content. One young man who has taken full advantage of this technological shift is Zach Clayton, and he’s done a pretty amazing job at it. With over 2 million followers on Instagram, over 32 million views on YouNow, and hordes of young fans falling in love, he’s winning the game before the age of 18. Not only is he making girls swoon over writing and singing original songs, he creates vlogs, sketches, and even one-of-a-kind merch. In the past, he has worked with other influencers such as Jojo Siwa, Baby Ariel and Loren Beech. Recently, Clayton has released two singles, “Face to Face” and “Insta Bae”, both successfully landing spots on the iTunes Pop Chart. And if you think that’s all, there’s more. He has completed four national tours between 2015 and 2016, including DigiTour and DigiFest. Zach also recently announced that he will be touring starting in May on his Nothin’ But Love Tour where he will be performing music off of his coming EP.

Zach is obviously a force not to reckon with, and that is exactly why corporations have instead been partnering with him.  He has been a vital part in the gaining of consumers for many businesses by teaching them to incorporate viral media stars in their advertising.

Along with all this success comes a very wide audience who is ready to listen. Zach has taken advantage of this in the best way he knows how- speaking out about bullying. He points out the consequences bullying can have and promotes an anti-bullying movement within his fan base.

I mean, wow. This guy does it all. Thankfully, we had the chance to ask him a few questions.

 

How did you first discover YouNow?
I had friends who started streaming and I heard good things about the app so I gave it a try.

Were you nervous about your first livestream? If so, how did you overcome it?
Not really, I only had one person watching the first time and later found out that I was that one person. I just acted  like myself and I’m not afraid of being silly so livestreaming has never made me nervous.

Believing in yourself is your best defense.

What are your thoughts on livestreaming becoming the new way to perform for fans?
I think livestream is a great tool to connect with fans on a more intimate level. No matter what your content is you just get a real time feel for what they are interested in. It’s really exciting to be a part of the platform.

How have you continued to grow your audience views on YouNow? Have you changed anything in how you interact with the fans or just simple aesthetic changes?
As I gain fans and interact with them more, I’ve learned what appeals to them. I’ve learned why viewers are watching and what keeps them engaged. I have also had the opportunity to collaborate with other digital entertainers across all platforms and for different projects which has also opened my fan base.

How do you personally manage keeping up all social media platforms?
I have a schedule I try to stick to, over time I have figured out what works to keep my supports engaged.  Each platform is different and takes a different amount of prep, but it’s something I enjoy so luckily it doesn’t seem like work.

How do you use your platform to bring positive attitudes or changes?
Social media is cool because anyone can use it, it gives everyone a voice. For me bullying is something important to shine a light on and discuss with my fans. It’s something that most people my age or any age has dealt with and it’s especially common on social media, so I want to let people know they’re not alone and that bullying is unacceptable

What has been one of your favorite tours you’ve done and why?
Each of the tours I have been a part of have been really fun and different for my career. I’m most excited for my own tour, to share my original music with my fans and have deeper control of the tour creatively.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Shawn Mendes.

What are some current goals you are working towards?
I’m focused on my music right now. I’m really excited to release my first EP later this year. I have a few music videos that I’m working on to release with my music as well.

What sort of things do you do to discipline yourself in time-management, practice, etc?
I am aware of my priorities and I don’t over extend myself in too many directions. I also have a strong team that helps me stay organized. It’s really important to surround yourself with people that understand your goals.

What is your process for writing sketches?
I create sketches from experiences in my life or experiences my friends have and build from there. I like to put out content that is relatable to my viewers.

How do you cheer yourself up on days when you might feel artistically defeated?
All I have to do when I am having a blah day is hit my Twitter feed and read what my supporters are saying, they really are my best friends. I’m also surrounded by a great team and my family who always keep me grounded.

What are some hobbies or talents you have we may not know about?
My life is an open book so there really isn’t anything my supporters don’t know about.

How would you describe your music style?
I have been creating a lot of pop music, I want to put out feel good music for my generation.

What is something that sets you apart from other musicians around your age and genre?
My music has my own twist. The guys I work with are so good about knowing me and the things that relate to me, I’m also lucky to have a hand in the creative direction and I think that sets me apart from another artist.

How do you approach negative criticism?
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, not everyone is going to appreciate my work. It’s important for me to be confident in the work that I put out but also be open to growth. I take negative criticism in stride.

Is it overwhelming at all gaining so much attention and such a big following in a short amount of time? If so, how do you deal with that?
It’s surreal. I’m so grateful for my fans and I’m so excited to share my journey with them.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, not everyone is going to appreciate my work. It’s important for me to be confident in the work that I put out but also be open to growth. I take negative criticism in stride.

Moving on to a slight heavier topic, I know you use your voice to battle bullying. Have you yourself dealt with bullying?
Yes, I’ve experienced bullying first hand. I was surprised that most people have experienced bullying in their life in one way or another. It’s important that victims of bullying know they’re not alone. That’s why I’m open with my experience.

How do you find healing from bullying?
I think success is the best medicine for bullying. It’s important to focus on what makes you happy and on what you personally consider success. Believing in yourself is your best defense.

What can you say to those currently facing bullying?
Like I said before, it’s important to focus on what makes you happy. Don’t change into what other people want you to be. Be proud of who you are and of your success and no bully can take that away from you.

It’s important to spread awareness about bullying and to let bullies know it’s unacceptable. If you witness bullying, say something. We need to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

What are some ways people can help stop bullying?
It’s important to spread awareness about bullying and to let bullies know it’s unacceptable. If you witness bullying, say something. We need to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

 

Photographed by Anna Zhang
Words by Elizabeth Stafford

 

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