Aubergine

ASMR, tingling viewers in all languages

December 11, 2014
Many ASMRtists like Dmitri, better known as MassageASMR on YouTube, role play as doctors. So far he has over 155,000 YouTube subscribers. (YouTube screen capture)

Many ASMRtists like Dmitri, better known as MassageASMR on YouTube, role play as doctors. So far he has over 155,000 YouTube subscribers. (YouTube screen capture)

By Brian Han

ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is defined as a pleasurable tingling sensation felt on a person’s head that can be triggered by sounds, images, touch and even smell in some cases.

Rebekah Smith, 22, also known as SoftlyGaloshes on YouTube, is an ASMR artist (ASMRtist) from California. She explains it in her own terms.

“So you know that feeling you get when someone is playing with your hair or the back of your neck softly? That sort of tingly, thick-headed feeling? You can actually trigger that feeling in some people with audio and sometimes visuals,” Smith said. “That’s what I do for a living. I trigger that feeling in people.”

U.K. ASMRtist Nicole, also known as Pigsbum53, is one of many multilingual content producers who use different languages to appeal to wider audiences. In this case, Nicole speaks both English and Korean. (YouTube screen capture)

U.K. ASMRtist Nicole, also known as Pigsbum53, is one of many multilingual content producers who use different languages to appeal to wider audiences. In this case, Nicole speaks both English and Korean and has over 85,000 subscribers. (YouTube screen capture)

Smith has amassed almost 65,000 YouTube subscribers and millions of views from around the world making videos featuring ASMR triggers such as whispering, slow hand movements and even gum chewing.

And there are many others who have achieved similar or even greater results.

It is a phenomenon that crosses language barriers.

Whether it’s the U.S., South Korea, Australia or the U.K., successful ASMRtists are attracting a global following.

“[ASMR] brings such diverse viewers and listeners together,” a popular U.S. ASMRtist SpringbokASMR, or Nichole, 29, said. “I get messages from enlisted marines, sweet little grandmothers, and people all around the world. Korean fans tend to be generously kind and expressive — you can sense an appreciation for thoughtful presentation and authenticity at the same time. That’s pretty rare.”

“ASMR is universal because it’s based on sound and not language or other things,” says a popular Korean ASMRtist called RS J.

“I get some comments in Korean, and when translated they’re usually very simple like, ‘I like your videos, keep doing what you’re doing!’” Smith said. “Actually one of my favorite ASMRtists is Korean. Pigsbum53.”

Pigsbum53, or Nicole, 20, is based out of the U.K. and makes videos in both Korean and English.

“I listen to Russian, Italian, French, etc. ASMR videos,” Nicole said. “It’s really good for wanting to have some background noise when writing an essay or doing something on the computer since you don’t know what they are actually saying.”

“I listen to other ASMR content creators all the time who speak other languages,” says another popular U.S. ASMRtist Heather Feather, 30. “Sometimes it’s nice not to be able to concentrate on what is being said, and you can just kick back and relax without focusing on anything in particular. I am also a big fan of accents, and sometimes I find they will trigger me more on certain days.”

The bottom line is the videos can be therapeutic regardless of the country of origin.

It's not uncommon for ASMRtists to combine their interests. SpringbokASMR goes through a cooking recipe tutorial for one of her videos. Nothing is more universal than food. (YouTube screen capture)

It’s not uncommon for ASMRtists to combine their interests. SpringbokASMR goes through a cooking recipe tutorial for one of her videos that incorporates ASMR triggers. In just six months, she has gained almost 65,000 subscibers. (YouTube screen capture)

The term ASMR hasn’t been around for long and in fact it was reportedly coined in 2008 in an online blog. At the moment there isn’t much meaningful scientific research on the subject, but that doesn’t stop experts from weighing in on the topic.

Dr. Carl W. Bazil, a sleep disorders specialist at Columbia University, believes that ASMR may in fact be an effective way to combat sleep disorders.

“People who have insomnia are in a hyper state of arousal,” he told The New York Times. “Behavioral treatments — guided imagery, progressive relaxation, hypnosis and meditation — are meant to try to trick your unconscious into doing what you want it to do. ASMR videos seem to be a variation on finding ways to shut your brain down.”

Even though ASMR can’t be proven or measured in a lab just yet, it’s existence is confirmed by an unexpected rise in popularity since the term’s creation.

ASMRtist Rebekah Smith, also known as SoftlyGaloshes on YouTube, is successful enough to make a living from producing ASMR videos. Her revenue comes from both YouTube and another site called Patreon. (YouTube)

ASMRtist Rebekah Smith, also known as SoftlyGaloshes on YouTube, is successful enough to make a living from producing ASMR videos. Her revenue comes from both YouTube and another site called Patreon. (YouTube)

Sometimes the popularity comes with added benefits.

“It’s quite overwhelming,” explains Nicole. “I actually started this channel when I was diagnosed with major depression disorder, in order to find a new hobby. I started watching ASMR videos late sophomore and early junior year of high school and wanted to see if I could give back to the community since I loved watching videos myself.”

For others like Smith, the benefits can be monetary and even provide a living as mentioned earlier.

“YouTube advertisements make up about two-thirds of it for me,” she said. “The other part is from Patreon, which is a website that allows people who support your work, whether it’s music, YouTube, video games, or whatever, to pledge a certain amount of money for each piece of work you put up. I just like to keep it simple.”

Additional income can be a meaningful advantage because production value doesn’t come cheap in this particular genre.

“I try to create a wide variety of videos for everyone’s taste in the highest quality possible,” says Australian ASMRtist MassageASMR, or Dmitri, 40, said. “I always try to have the best audio recording quality possible.”

More specifically, the videos function more efficiently when recorded with a special type of audio equipment — a binaural microphone.

“I use a 3Dio Free Space Pro Binaural Microphone,” Heather said. “It allows me to sound like I am really in the room with the viewer, and many times people remark that it also allows for the illusion that I am actually touching the viewer’s head or ear.”

ASMRtist Heather Feather, one of the most popular in the genre at 184,000 YouTube subscribers, is shown here using a specialized binaural microphone, which allows viewers to feel as if she is in the room with them. (YouTube screen capture)

ASMRtist Heather Feather, one of the most popular in the genre at 184,000 YouTube subscribers, is shown here using a specialized binaural microphone, which allows viewers to feel as if she is in the room with them. (YouTube screen capture)

The combination of additional video equipment and software can run an artist up to thousands of dollars.

It doesn’t stop there though.

“Soon I will be delving into creating virtual reality… with our network PixelWhipt, so we will be experimenting with… 360 spherical live-action video capture,” Heather said.

Even with all the dedication to quality and an ever-growing audience base, it’s still a topic that most people aren’t too comfortable talking about.

ASMRtist Tony Bomboni was formerly a successful YouTube comedian with millions of views, but later decided to stick with ASMR. His efforts have been met with similar results. (YouTube screen capture)

ASMRtist Tony Bomboni was formerly a successful YouTube comedian with millions of views, but later decided to stick with ASMR. His efforts have been met with similar results. (YouTube screen capture)

Another popular ASMRtist Tony Bomboni, 20, Illinois, is all too familiar with this.

“The first time I experienced the feeling of ASMR was when I was around 8 years old,” Bomboni said. “I never told anyone I felt this way, due to a fear that I would be called strange by my friends in school… Trying to explain ASMR to someone is very awkward at first. I [told] my friends about it when I was a senior in high school. I told them I made these videos, and I was amazed at their response to it. They were overly-positive about the whole thing, and supported me all the way.”

The public perception is becoming more aware and slowly more accepting about the phenomenon.

“I think ASMR will grow way bigger than it is currently,” Bomboni said. “Just look at the rate some of these artists are growing. It is insane. We never really expected this, however I knew this whole time, deep inside, that the whole world has to know about this. ASMR is felt globally, and it is something that around half the population feels. ASMR is already famous, it’s just nobody knows it yet. Nobody knows how to describe this feeling. There are still billions out there who do not know the name of this feeling. There is no doubt in my mind, that ASMR will be known worldwide, very soon.”

3 Comments

  1. KimJongChilled

    December 21, 2014 at 6:17 PM

    Pigsbum53 has to be my all time favorite. I don’t know what it is about her, but just about every video is absolutely soothing.

    Very well done article.

  2. Pingback: Ear Cleaning Appointment (Thorough ASMR Examination) | ASMR TUBER

  3. Pingback: Youtube Guided Meditation Binaural | Googuide

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