Canadas Talent


July 7, 2016

Hashtag Live 2016

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Written by: CT
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red carpet pic

Article by: Kelsey Cueva

Photos by: Tia Belleisle & Kelsey Canning

What exactly does it take to become “internet famous”? Establish a following? Or create awesome and noteworthy content?

While there isn’t a 100% guaranteed, step-by-step formula out there that will instantly gratify these (digital) age old disputes, there are many ways one can go about developing an online presence and turn a love for social media into a full time job.

On June 25th, the Ryerson Theater hosted Hashtag Live 2016, Canada’s first ever social media empowerment conference for teens and youth. The event featured panels, motivational speakers, and musical performers who openly shared their own personal experiences, as well as tips and tricks for cultivating a successful online career. Hosted by YTV’s very own Carlos Bustamante, the conference aspired to engage, inform, and inspire young creators; meanwhile, all proceeds collected from ticket sales went towards Kids Help Phone.

(The Revel Boys and the girls from The Next Step take the Red Carpet.)


Hashtag Live was truly a star-studded affair, featuring personalities of all ages who come from all walks of life. From YTV and Family Channel personalities, to The Next Star singers, to highly renowned business leaders, to social media moguls, each panelist and performer had great advice to offer up to those attending the conference.

To start things off, a handful of online personalities and creators from Much Digital Studios took to the stage to share what it’s like to create their own content in partnership with Much. As Much Digital Creators (with the exception of SneakerTalk), they each have access to a professional studio, while still having free reign over the videos and content they create. It was interesting to note how each of these influencers specialized in different things – from music, to sci-fi, to hobbies and lifestyle – but its these very differences that make them all unique. When creating videos, they emphasized how important it is to stay true to yourself and your interests, explaining how it’s the best and easiest way to find your niche and connect with your audience.

(Carlos Bustamante (Host) discussing social media with some of the Much Creators and other internet personalities. From left to right: Carlos, Sparx, Ajay Fry, SneakerTalk, The Baker Twins)

The next panelist to speak was American Idol social media mentor and former manager to Taylor Swift, Rick Barker. As a man who’s worked alongside many musicians for many years, he has accumulated loads of experience on how to develop your online audience. During his talk, he noted that the most important skill a musician or performer can have is connectivity – the ability to be open and engaging with your audience. He shared how during the earlier days of Taylor Swift’s career, her audience was “more forgiving” of her younger, still developing vocals because she was so loving and open towards her fans. He shared that establishing a great connection with your audience is something that is always under looked, yet it’s also what can either make or break your career.

(Rick Barker shares his knowledge @ Hashtag Live)


Following Barker, Ben Ball ­­– comedian and member of Ryerson’s RTA sketch comedy troupe RIOT! – made an appearance to do some stand-up before interviewing Vine comedians, Ray Ligaya, Esa Fungtastic, Kurtis Conner, and Matt O’Brien. They shared some laughs, and provided their insights on how to make the most of Vine’s 6 seconds – being drastic, dramatic, silly! As comedians, they love having the freedom to poke fun at everyday things, and not take themselves so seriously.


(From left to right: Ray Ligaya, Esa Fungtastic, Kurtis Conner, Matt O’Brien, Ben Ball)


Next to share their thoughts were actors from YTV’s Max and Shred, followed by actors from Family Channel’s The Next Step, Lost & Found Music Studios, and Backstage. Carlos and Deepa Prashad (the host of Family Channel) each had a crack at speaking to the young actors and actresses, asking them about their experience in the industry, as well as other fun topics like their favourite social media platforms, and their favourite emojis.

(Young actor and actresses from Family Channel’s Backstage, Lost & Found Music Studios, and The Next Step)

            And finally, last to speak were The Next Step’s Alexandra Beaton; YouTube vlogger/relationship guru Andrew Quo; and beauty/lifestyle YouTuber Amanda Lee. While they all love social media, they also acknowledge that there are darker aspects of the internet. Yes, while the world wide web can be a fun place to share content and interact with the global community, there are unfortunately a lot of mean people online. But that shouldn’t be a reason to stop you from putting yourself out there! These panelists shared their experiences with internet trolls and negativity online. They each shared the sentiment that you should never let a bully with keyboard courage get you down, and when the negativity gets too overwhelming, “You have the power to walk away”.

(From left to right: Andrew Quo, Alexandra Beaton, and Amanda Lee)


Not to mention, the event featured amazing musical performances. From The Next Step, Ryland Clark opened with an intimate acoustic set, sharing what his experience has been like after the show, and his story about getting noticed by fellow Canadian artist, Shawn Mendes. Meanwhile, Jake Donaldson of The Next Step came out with a stellar performance, singing and dancing with heart and passion.

Other performances included twelve-year-old Mini Pop Kid, Vivian Hicks. After her set, she shared how she got her start in the music world through Instagram. Young rapper, JaXe (known for having a severe stutter which disappears when he raps) flowed effortlessly on stage, performing with enthusiasm and high energy. Later, Dan Talevski – known for his summer smash hit, “Knock Me Off My Feet” – sang smooth as butter as he performed an acoustic set of his own. And accompanied by Talent Nation’s Mike Goldfarb, vocalist Carlyn Theresa sang a powerhouse rendition of Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best”.

Finally, to end off the night, The Revel Boys performed a show-stopping finale, singing, dancing, and back-flipping to an original mashup of songs which included tracks like One Direction’s “Drag Me Down” to *NSYNC’s “Pop”.

(Carlyn Theresa)


Did you miss out on Hashtag Live this year? That’s okay, because we here at Canada’s Talent have got you covered! Here are the 10 most noteworthy tips we picked up on how YOU can share your cool content and expand your online presence:

  1. Post tons of content, and post consistently.
  2. Use the right #hashtags, and use a lot of them!
  3. Engage with your audience – they want to connect with you as much as you want to connect with them!
  4. Be passionate about the content you create, because it will show in your work.
  5. Learn how to edit, and edit well.
  6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Sometimes trial and error is the best way to learn.
  7. Block out the haters – y’all don’t need that negativity in your life!
  8.  “Start off your career as a television host, and work your way up from there!”
    (Haha, thanks for that one Ajay!)
  9. Remember, you are in control of how much (or how little) you share online, so be sure to do so wisely!
  10. And finally, “Be the first you, not the next anybody else.” – Rick Barker

We learned a lot at this year’s Hashtag Live 2016 conference, and after reading this article, we hope you did too!

You can check out our Red Carpet coverage here:

Video filmed by Kelsey Canning and Tia Belleisle. Video edited by Tia Belleisle, titles by Kelsey Canning.


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