How King Bach Dominated Vine
King Bach is the biggest star on Vine. But why is it easy to dominate the internet as a black star and not Hollywood?
It's hardly the weather to glide around North Hollywood on a hoverboard (the rude name given to two-wheel balancing segways without the handlebar that don't actually hover off the ground), but King Bach hops out of an Uber and immediately mounts his as rain drizzles from the sky. Andrew Bachelor, who goes by King Bach on the internet, arrives with a squad of fellow Vine content creators for some old-school guerrilla filmmaking.
In the group is Keraun Harris, who talks excitedly about recently appearing in a BuzzFeed Community post. Bach ranks at the top of the list, of course, but Harris is happy to be included. He's more than a Vine star, as everyone has to be these days. "You make a long version for Facebook," Bach says. "Then a shorter version for Instagram. And a six-second video for Vine. But everyone's on Facebook, it's getting big."
Facebook has come back in a big way. It used to be a place that young adults fled once their parents signed up, but now the social networking site has become so ubiquitous that people use it without realizing they are. It's become a news and content aggregator and that's where, despite 13.8 million Vine viewers, Bach finds his largest audience.
The key to Bach's work is collaboration. He doesn't plan his Vines ahead. He shows up at a location and lets himself be inspired. If there's a car parked in the alley, they'll use it. If it's raining, they'll use it. We're waiting on Vine user Arantza to arrive, and Bach brainstorms videos they can make with her.
"We're always waiting on a girl," Harris observes nonchalantly as Bach comes up with ideas.
"It's raining — we could do a thing where she doesn't wanna go outside and get her hair wet," Bach says.
"She black?" Harris asks.
Harris cracks up. "Oh, that's funny."
"Bach is great to collaborate with because he gets such a big audience," Arantza says, which is a sentiment echoed by everyone else there. Harris says that his audience is more urban — "Rick Ross follows me, people like him wanna see that hood shit" — so it's great joining forces with Bach, who reaches a white and a black audience. Most people do what they know, but Bach, who's been classically trained as an actor, takes the approach of a performer being in different projects to build a diverse fanbase.
If there's a reason why it's easier to be at the top of the food chain in terms of Vine as opposed to Hollywood, it's because there's no intermediary. Bach creates his own content, and when he collaborates with white and black Vine users, he's able to build on both audiences. And once he has them hooked, both audiences will be privy to the diverse group of people he brings into his videos.
Having a clear plan for broadening his scope beyond the normal Vine user is how Bach has been able to cross over into film and television. "Most people, doing Vine is all they know," Arantza says. "They don't think about the big picture. Bach does."
If it sounds like Bach has tunnel vision when it comes to his aspirations, it's because he does. Even in the moment, his eye is always swirling around, seeing what's being created in his surroundings. The Viners who worked with him in the morning are now using each other create their own content. It's very quid pro quo. In the middle of talking to Bach, he pauses for a moment to give someone directions on how to aim their camera to make it funnier. He never stops working.
That drive has garnered him a hosting gig on BET's reboot of Punk'd with fellow internet sensation DeStorm Power. Punk'd, formerly on MTV (both networks are owned by Viacom), was hosted by Ashton Kutcher as he played elaborate pranks on fellow celebrities. Bach explains that he wasn't originally hosting the show, only DeStorm was. "They tried to punk me twice and failed though — I could tell it was a setup," Bach says, which is why BET relented and just asked Bach to join the show with Power.
"I'm always working," Bach says. "I don't even remember where I was when I became the biggest on Vine. I didn't celebrate. I moved on to the next project."
We finish talking, and Bach hurries across the street to help the Viner he was giving camera directions to minutes ago. I call an Uber to pick me up and the driver recognizes DeStorm. He hops out and quickly asks for a photo. When he gets back in the car and I explain that Bach was there too, he almost wants to go back for a second photo. But I tell the Uber driver it's not worth it — I can almost guarantee Bach is busy.