Published on January 3rd, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Ross Smith On His Successful Viral Videos With His 90-Year Old Granny, Working With Musical.ly, and more
In 2017, musical.ly was both one of the fastest-growing social media platforms and one of the biggest tech stories of 2017. As proof, the app was named the “2017 Tech Innovator” at the prestigious WSJ Magazine Innovators Awards. It has become the “go-to” destination for content creators of all ages who are sharing short comedy, dance, fitness, singing, tutorial and lifestyle videos.
While the musical.ly platform has captured the attention of millions of teens and young adults, it has also launched the career of a number of social media celebrities, including this 90-year old grandmother. She and her grandson Ross Smith create comedy videos that not only rack up millions of views, but also showcase their funniest moments. Smith, the more tech-savvy of the duo, currently has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, which is less than half of his 4.4 million Facebook followers.
To learn more about the duo and their social media platform of choice, musical.ly, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Ross Smith; grandma weighed in for one of the questions, according to Smith. Granny-oriented merch and other info can be found online at www.shoprosssmith.com.
How would you describe musical.ly to someone who hasn’t yet used it?
Ross Smith: It’s a great video platform that’s easy to use and great to express your inner-creativity. It makes creating video for everyone without all the big Hollywood equipment, and gives you the opportunity to reach all sorts of audiences.
How did you first become familiar with musical.ly?
Ross Smith: One of my friends told about me about it, so I checked it out and was blown away by all of the creativity on the app. From comedy to singing to dancing to stunt performers, I was super-excited about what people were doing on musical.ly and knew I wanted to dive in and start creating my own content.
What draws you to create content for musical.ly rather than other platforms?
Ross Smith: The simplicity of the app and the “shareablity” the platform offers. Right now, musical.ly and Facebook are really the only shareable video platforms, but because of the tools available on musical.ly, content creators are able to express their creativity in ways that are completely unique to the app. musical.ly is also the only pure video focused social media, and that’s amazing for video creators like myself.
Where did the idea to collaborate with your grandmother come from?
Ross Smith: Well, my grandma and I have always had a special relationship. But growing up, camera phones didn’t exist, so there wasn’t really a simple way to film our relationship. There also wasn’t a platform to share the content too. Junior year of college in 2013, the iPhone started making video more simple to record and social media platforms like Vine started to come out, which allowed everyday people to make content.
So on spring break 2013, I came home and decided to try filming a small prank with my grandma and then posted it to social media. I filmed a video of me blocking her basketball shot, then posted it on social media. The next morning I woke up and the video had gone viral. And I like to say the rest is history. (laughs) I knew there was something special about our bond that people quickly fell in love.
When did you realize that these videos with your grandmother were not just going to be a one-off, but part of a continued collaboration?
Ross Smith: After that spring break basketball block video. Then we made many more videos that spring, and they all started to draw in large crowds of people.
Do you have a favorite video from your collaborations of what’s already been released?
Ross Smith: I love all the videos we film. But the funniest video we have ever filmed I would have to say is this video where the “beat drops” and then I actually put a leaf blower in my grandma’s face to get the effect of an extreme beat drop — then her dentures fell out. (laughs)
Which was the most challenging video to produce?
Ross Smith: The hardest video I’ve ever had to make was actually a video without my grandma. It was a waterslide trick shot video that took three days and millions of bruises. It was very draining and stressful. But I made the shot the last few minutes on the last day of filming, which made it all worth it.
musical.ly collaborations aside, what is coming up for you career-wise?
Ross Smith: I am working on a linear TV show with my grandma and I. We are in the process of pitching this show to networks. I am very excited to tap into this new audience and platform.
Did you ever have anyone telling you that you needed to leave Ohio to make a living as a content creator?
Ross Smith: Yes, everyday. But I stay in Ohio for my grandma and family. Family is very important to me and our relationship is one of a kind. I know one day grandma will grow old and I will probably move to L.A. But while she’s still young — 91 (laughs) — I want to soak up all the memories that we can.
When not busy with making videos, how do you like to spend your free time?
Ross Smith: Videos take up a large amount of my time, but I always like to try and find time to do things that I love. I actually was a pro football player two years ago, and I still love sports a lot. I am big into fitness and playing and watching sports. I also love nature and being outdoorsy. Oh, and of course I love going out with my friends and hanging out with my sweet granny!
Finally, Ross, any last words for the kids?
Ross Smith: If you have a passion or dream, chase it and don’t give up. People made fun of me for spending so much time making silly videos and for not making any money doing it. But fast forward four years later, I’m the happiest man in the world and have the best job in the world. People said it was impossible to survive in this industry, but I have found a way too! Oh, and one other word from Grandma who’s next to me: “Keep your pimp hand strong, folks.”Tweet