There's a massive internet community that's obsessed with videos of 'brain-tingling' sounds, and the people who make them earn thousands of dollars a month
- Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, refers to the tingles in your brain and spine some people feel when they hear certain pleasurable sounds.
- Unlike most of YouTube, ASMR-triggering videos are about listening, not watching. There are hours-worth of videos on YouTube where people mix slime, conduct fake eye exams, and scratch on books to induce ASMR.
- Since the early 2010s, YouTubers have been making wildly-popular channels producing ASMR videos that are anywhere from one minute to five hours long.
- Some YouTubers have been able to make full-time jobs out of ASMR.
This search recently edged out "cake" in popularity on YouTube: "autonomous sensory meridian response."
ASMR, as it's called, refers to "head tingles" that result from hearing interesting sounds - sort of like someone is tickling you inside your head.
What causes those tingles differs for everyone. It could be as subtle as a hair cut, whispers, and magazine page flips (a video that garnered nearly four million views in a month), or as intense as someone eating juicy pickles (10.8 million views).
Though it might sound odd, businesses are profiting off of it, reported Business Insider's Zoë Bernard in 2017. IKEA USA produced an ASMR video in 2017 featuring a hand patting sheets and scratching shelving units. W Magazine has produced an entire series of celebrities and ASMR triggers.
And it pays the bills for some YouTubers. It's estimated that GentleWhispering, YouTube's top ASMR channel, makes at least $130,000 a year.
Other full-time ASMR YouTubers don't report the same cash influx. Three YouTubers told Business Insider that they make around $2,000 per month through YouTube, Patreon, and other revenue streams outside of their main channels.
And, thanks to pricey audio equipment, the startup costs are higher than the usual YouTube venture. Plus, you'll have to experience the "head tingles" that come from listening to sounds like nails tapping in order to know what sort of videos to make.
To learn what it's really like to make a living off of ASMR, Business Insider asked five full-time ASMR YouTubers to share where they find inspiration for new sounds, the inner workings of their craft, and what the biggest mistakes are for beginners in the ASMR field.