To make it in the media industry, there is an expressed understanding and expectation to always be adapting and shedding old skins. For Dylan Sesco and his careening media empire, this is an absolute. The journey for anyone on the new media platforms is an uphill battle, one without a manual or guideline that will guarantee any scale of success. While the learning curve is steep, for people like Dylan Sesco, it is well worth the struggle.
From humble beginnings of a singular YouTube channel, he has managed to craft a fully-fledged company that is setting its sights on expansion and adaptation. He took the time to answer a few questions about how he got started, the challenges of COVID19 and a production company, and what lies on the horizon.
Hey Dylan, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us, let’s start with an easy one, what inspired the creation of Vertlife & SOOT.tv?
I’ve always wanted to create, and I’m a stubborn control freak, so I started my own company, Vertlife Entertainment with some friends. We originally mostly did music but I eventually pivoted to my YouTube channel The Somethin’ Or Other Tour, shortened to SOOT.tv. I’m big on ownership and equity, so I wanted to control my creative vision. The original idea for the channel was a “hip-hop travel show”, and while it’s morphed a lot since then, it’s still along the same lines. We explore anything under the sun like sports stadiums, abandoned places, history museums, literally anything. It’s a passion project.
With 15 years of experience in all facets of media, you’ve seen your fair share of challenges I can assume. What has been the most memorable to you?
There are always personal challenges. The ideas, the vision, the execution, but I love those challenges. It’s fun and rewarding to work your way through and find ways to complete an idea. The difficult challenges are outside of the creation, such as promotion and marketing. Getting eyes to your art is difficult nowadays when we are flooded with content and choices. There is so much low effort content out there that people have to sift through and being a small YouTube channel, you can be lumped into that. More subscribers, and views, and co-signs give you validity to viewers. Before you have that though, it’s an uphill battle.
Is there an element to content creation (editing, shooting, producing etc) that appeals to you the most?
I love them all, which is one of the reasons I do everything myself. I love the research, I love the brainstorming, I love the filming, I love the editing. Each one is different and challenging. The only aspect I don’t like is the after, when the project is finished, and I have to somehow get people to see it. I would say the filming itself is probably the most exciting, to actually be experiencing some of the things we’ve done like an NFL playoff game or walking across an abandoned sky bridge connecting two giant grain silos.
From record labels to productions, you’ve got an impressive resume and skillset. What is the endgame for you and your production house?
The Somethin’ Or Other Tour is the priority, but I would love one day to be an umbrella to more productions, podcasts, channels, whatever. I want people to see Dylan Sesco or Vertlife as a stamp of approval of quality content. Helping people create their own content would be amazing. I know so many talented people that would be great if they had just a little bit of help.
I know it’s hard to choose but, you have a production or video that you’re particularly proud of?
I’ve done over 200 videos at this point, so it’s difficult to choose. I’m particularly proud of an exploration of Col. Allensworth State Park, the first California settlement founded and financed by African Americans. I also love my video at Bodie Ghost Town in California, it’s one of my favorite places and is used as reference in a high school textbook about the American West. Bodie was on my bucket list of places to visit, so to finally get there was so much fun.
With social media becoming more and more integral for successful content, has your working approach changed to adapt to them all?
Sometimes this can be a challenge, figuring out how to cross promote my projects to various outlets. I recently started doing highlight videos for TikTok and Instagram Reels, but some things just don’t translate. The world is trending towards short form, quick hit content, which is not really what I’m into. Unfortunately, if I want to survive I have to adapt a bit.
How has the pandemic impacted you?
Filming has been very difficult. Not just because so many things were closed, but also because the accessible places were packed with people. Any outdoors or public space was overrun with people. I had so many plans pre-pandemic for the year 2020 when it comes to my channel and places to film, but they were almost all put on hold. Here’s hoping we can get back to normal eventually and I can still proceed with my plans.
Finally, what is next for the team at Vertlife and SOOT.tv?
Recently we’ve started working with local history associations and local governments for do official videos for some historic locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m excited to get started on those, as well as my own adventures. We’re doing a lot of giveaways of 49ers tickets and other cool goodies and really starting to gain some traction after years of hard work. I’m excited for the future of the channel and everything else we do with The Somethin’ Or Other Tour, and any future projects under Vertlife Entertainment.
Thank you Dylan for your time!