- The Spacestation, a creator-focused company that operates a variety of businesses in categories like talent management, esports, and influencer marketing, is launching a new TikTok content house in September.
- The company is looking to spend between $5 and $8 million on a Los Angeles mansion where its new comedy collective, “Camp Sike,” will produce content for platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
- The Spacestation hopes that Camp Sike’s comedy niche will serve as a differentiator when pitching to brands against other TikTok content groups that lean into dance challenges and lip-syncing trends for their videos.
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The creator-focused media company The Spacestation is currently shopping for a $5 to $8 million mansion in Los Angeles.
Its plan — which has been continually delayed due to restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic — is to move six recently signed TikTok stars into a mansion in September in order to launch a new creator group focused on humor.
“This collective is a comedy collective,” said Jaxon Cooper, a talent manager and producer at Spacestation Integrations, a division of The Spacestation focused on managing creators and coordinating brand deals. “It’s sketch comedy. It’s written out, whether it’s dialogue or monologues.”
TikTok is just a launching-off point for Spacestation’s comedian group
It may seem like an inopportune time to invest millions of dollars in a content house for a group of digital stars whose biggest audiences are on an app that politicians are considering banning in the US.
But TikTok has also exploded in popularity in recent months, with its trends spilling over onto Instagram, YouTube, and TV shows like Saturday Night Live. The app set a global downloads record in the first quarter, and based on data from a sample of Android users, the analytics firm SimilarWeb estimates TikTok’s number of daily active users in the US is up 8.3% this month from June.
Still, Spacestation Integrations is hedging its bets by focusing on a variety of social platforms for its new comedy collective, which is going by the name “Camp Sike” and will operate within a yet-to-be-announced company division called Satellite Studios.
The collective is already working on a scripted series for YouTube (Spacestation hired a writer to help script and direct) and plans to diversify across a variety of platforms and mediums, including podcasting. The collective’s managers know TikTok’s moment could be fleeting — as was the case for the short-form video app Vine — and they’ve planned for a possible demise.
“We saw these guys and we were like, ‘These are the next David Dobrik and Vlog Squad,'” said Spencer Lowder, who works alongside Cooper as a talent manager and producer at Spacestation Integrations. “If you look at them and see what happened, Vine was essentially a funnel for them. Vine was basically put to rest and disbanded, but it funneled all that attention [for them] into these other social-media platforms.” Dobrik quickly rose to fame on YouTube and more recently, TikTok, after being a Vine star.
Jack Innanen, one of Camp Sike’s founding members who has around 2 million followers on TikTok, said the team has aspirations to eventually pitch comedy shows to traditional media companies and streaming platforms.
“[We’ll] continue doing our individual videos and the way that we create on TikTok, and then come together and really take over TikTok as a collective, and then transition that to YouTube,” Innanen said. “[We’re] working on higher production content to be produced and then sold or shopped around.”
Camp Sike is focused on comedy — not dancing
Camp Sike is one of several TikTok groups that have chosen to bunk together in Los Angeles this year in order to collaborate on content and score brand deals. Two creator groups, The Hype House and Sway LA, made splashy entrances into the city at the start of this year. And a series of upstart TikTok collectives like Clubhouse, Drip Crib, and Girls in the Valley have recently made moves into the city to try to capitalize on TikTok fame.
The collab house model has a long history among YouTubers and Vine stars like Logan Paul, who moved into an apartment complex in 2014 with other top Vine creators on the aptly named Vine Street. Content houses offer creators the opportunity to cross-promote each other’s accounts and create videos with other influencers passing through (when shelter-in-place policies are lifted).
Camp Sike also isn’t the first content house that The Spacestation has launched. The company’s gaming division, Spacestation Gaming, previously opened collab houses for its esports players in cities like Atlanta and Las Vegas.
But Spacestation’s decision to buy rather than rent a house for its Camp Sike talent — a seemingly much larger investment — is a departure from what other TikTok-focused management groups have done. For instance, TalentX Entertainment, a new talent management company that launched late last year, opted to rent rather than purchase a Bel Air mansion for six of its talent in January (naming it Sway LA).
“This is planned to be a long term investment, so purchasing the home would prove more cost-effective than leasing for Spacestation and partners,” said Lowder, who declined to share the names of other participating investors.
Spacestation hopes that Camp Sike’s comedy niche will serve as a differentiator when pitching to brands against other TikTok content groups that lean into dance challenges and lip-syncing trends for their videos.
“Dancing isn’t always going to be the best way to present a product or service, whatever it is,” Lowder said. “With comedians we’re able to tell a story in a way that people find funny and relatable and they get something from it.”
“Everybody out there is focusing on a house,” Cooper said. “The Hype House. The Clubhouse. Sway LA. It’s all focused on a house, whereas our goal is this comedy collective and moving and driving them to really a place of presence in this new digital Hollywood space.”
How the group formed
Before the Camp Sike project was formalized earlier this year, Spacestation Integrations had worked with the group’s creators to secure brand deals for one-off campaigns as part of its influencer-marketing business.
“We were working on a few campaigns with some of them, and they had actually all rented an Airbnb at Playlist Live in Florida,” Cooper said, referring to the annual creator-fan event held in Orlando. “They had basically tested [living together] out, and were thinking about the idea of getting together. When we caught wind of that, it made absolute sense that we had to go down this road with them.”
Spacestation flew the group out to its headquarters in March to meet everyone in person before agreeing to manage the group full-time.
“Before we start investing in creators we want to know who they are and make sure we all vibe together,” Lowder said. “After that initial introduction all the guys went home and the plan was to move to LA about a month or two after that, but because of the pandemic it really put things on hold.”
Camp Sike is currently ‘collabing’ in Utah until it’s safe to move to Los Angeles
While a move to LA was put on indefinite hold following the coronavirus outbreak, five of the group’s members — Daniel Muthama, Grant Beene, Frankie Lagana, Asaf Rovny, Jericho Mencke — are currently living together in a house in Utah (The Spacestation is headquartered in Layton, Utah, a 25-minute drive from Salt Lake City). Innanen, who is based in Toronto, is waiting for travel restrictions between the US and Canada to lift before joining the group in-person.
“We’re taking the precautions of making sure everyone’s social distancing,” Cooper said. “When we go out to stores, throwing on masks. There’s a mandate here in Salt Lake. It’s required to wear a mask.”
The group is already working on making content together and helping to plan out each other’s daily TikTok posts, Cooper said.
“Every day they’ll wake up, sit down, and they’ll help write ideas for one another’s TikToks,” he said. “They’ll whiteboard everything. They’ll do key points for a video, and some of them are scripted.”
The collective will eventually live rent-free in LA (with some supervision)
When the six members of Camp Sike (all of whom are 18 years of age or older) do move to Los Angeles, they won’t need to pay rent to live in the company’s mansion. But they’ll be joined by Spacestation’s Cooper who plans to also move to the city to help make sure everything goes smoothly for Satellite Studios’ first venture.
“With everyone moving out to LA, first time going out to California, we want there to be on-site management,” Cooper said. “That will be me living out there making sure the house is in order and everything’s being run well. We definitely don’t want it to be any type of party house. It’s a creator house. It’s a production studio set.”
Living together in “collab” houses hasn’t been without controversy for other TikTok stars this year. Members of the popular influencer group The Hype House have tussled over trademark disputes, and several residents of the TikTok house Sway LA recently left their Bel Air mansion shortly after two of the house’s members were arrested on drug charges in Texas.
Lowder said Camp Sike will have a production schedule to make sure the house stays on task.
“There will be a schedule,” he said. “Tuesday we will be [recording] the podcast. Thursday we will be filming the TV series. Even the guys came up to us and said we don’t want to have crazy rager parties.”
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