"I just saw a fake palm tree and a man watching television in a deli, and he looked incredibly bored," explains Nicholas Megalis. "And I felt like I just had to film it."
He breaks into jingle-like song: "Fake palm tree and a bored guy and a TV, too."
"What’s cool about it," he says, "is that anybody can sing about their life."
That may be true. But not everybody can collect 341,000 Vine followers while doing it. Megalis is part of a small group of Vine users who have an agent, famed social media consultant Gary Vaynerchuk.
Vaynerchuk says he started his Vine talent agency, Grape Story, partly because he thinks success on Vine requires a unique skill. "It’s so weird to say you’re looking for that 'it’ factor," he says. "This takes a very specific science. We’re looking for people who aren’t famous for anything else other than they artistically figured out how to story-tell in six seconds."
Those aren’t necessarily the same people who have large followings elsewhere on the Internet, he says.
Rudy Mancuso, another Grape Story talent, for instance, has about 4,000 YouTube subscribers. He has 616,000 Vine followers.
Much of this disparity no doubt comes from an early adopter advantage on Vine. But it’s also true that Vine's short time limit and looping effect call for a different approach. "Even though it’s six seconds, it still has to have a beginning, middle, and end whether it’s explicit or not," Mancuso says. "So I think, okay, how can I deliver some kind of six-second progression with a bang that delivers something.… The fact that it loops actually gives a lot of flexibility for comedy."
The aspiring filmmaker often plays characters in his Vine videos (In one recent video, four of them appear to toss a beer to each other). In others, he rushes his mother with statements like, "Mom! I just got verified on Vine!" and records her reactions. Click through enough of his clips, and you’ll find a few that don’t match—moments when he plays the piano or guitar and isn't trying to be funny.
Now that Instagram hosts 15-second videos, Mancuso says he’ll probably host his music and film work there. "They’re two completely different platforms," he says. "Instagram video, you can kind of edit it a little more precisely, you have more time, it doesn’t really loop. So it’s a different thing."
Megalis, who has toured nationally as a musician, says he gets most of his Vine inspiration from walking around, which didn't necessarily happen when he was only posting on YouTube.
"I’m walking down the street and I see a dead animal, or an amazingly dressed guy who just looks so elegant and awesome, and I feel compelled to sing about them," he says. "I feel like everybody who watches it is part of my little daily, Brooklyn, New York, musical with pugs and old men sitting outside smoking cigars."
Megalis and Mancuso’s first Grape Story client is Virgin Mobile. The brand will pay the Vine creators per each video they make that incorporates a Virgin Mobile message. Other Grape Story clients include Jordan Burt, Curtis Lepore (Twitter bio: "Im pretty good at vine n stuf"), QPark, Marlo Meekins, and Pinot.
Whether brand demand for Vine talent can actually support a talent agency—especially with the new option to post videos on Instagram's much more popular platform—is anybody's guess, but recording six-second videos is not a bad gig if you have what it takes.
"I literally just love making a hot dog mustache," Megalis says. "I literally just filmed myself."
[Spotlight: Yarygin via Shutterstock]