Music & audio

Why Are YouTube ASMR Videos So Successful?

Discover the secret of these sound-based videos that have been trending over the last few years

We associate YouTube with visually-oriented content, but sound-oriented videos have been growing exponentially within the platform. ASMR videos, in particular, have increased viewers’ numbers by an average of 200% per year over the last five years. ASMR videos aim to induce relaxing, and at times sedating sensations on the listeners. They achieve this using a series of unusual and surprising means, that it is no exaggeration to define this as one of the most experimental and creative categories on the web.

Read on as we show you some of the most successful examples of this genre and explain why they create such a fuss.

ASMR videos are on-trend on YouTube.
ASMR videos are on-trend on YouTube.

The brain and ASMR sounds

The acronym ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. According to the definition published by the University of Seville’s scientific magazine ESAMEC, this automatic response is caused by regular stimulation or triggers. These triggers produce tingles in the scalp, followed by a pleasant sense of relaxation that can also bring you to sleep.

At present, the ASMR phenomenon and its huge success are being studied by scientists looking to treat mental disorders and better understand issues linked with cognitive processing connected with concentration and motivation. Nonetheless, ASMR’s positive effect on many people is not universal, making the phenomenon even more peculiar.

ASMR Magic is the author of the following video. With more than 86 million views, it is one of the most-watched on YouTube of its kind.

Where does the pleasure of ASMR come from?

One of the most surprising data about ASMR is that, according to studies carried out on the brain, the sounds stimulate an area related to social experiences. This means that part of the pleasure could be rooted in the fact that they create the illusion of being with someone and even being protected and spoilt by someone who does not represent a risk.

This information was gathered through a scientific study published by the University Dartmouth College in the United States, in which the brains of one hundred ASMR fans were tested through MRI to record what went on when met with pleasure triggers. The experts discovered activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an evolutionarily advanced area of the brain associated with contact and affection. There was also activity in areas of the brain associated with gratification and emotional excitement. The researchers speculate that this pattern reflects how ASMR mimics the pleasure given by social engagement and relations.

In enjoying listening to people eating, the pleasure is caused by the human ability to empathize, which allows us to experience the pleasure or pain that someone else is feeling, whether we have any connection with them or not.

ASMR sounds stimulate an area of the brain associated with social experiences.
ASMR sounds stimulate an area of the brain associated with social experiences.

The first-ever ASMR video uploaded on YouTube is called Whispering Life and was recorded in March 2009. The phenomenon did not exist at the time. It consists of a girl saying that she enjoys listening to people whispering and was sharing the video in case others did too.

ASMR categories

ASMR is not a standardized genre. This universe is open to creativity. ASMR artists can experiment freely, in front of highly sensitive microphones, using various objects, narrations, and settings, finding millions of fans of the genre.

Objects’ noises

The most conventional sound is the noise made by objects: the sound of a hairbrush being used, the tapping of fingernails on a table, opening a can of pop, or lighting a match. In the universe of tapping and scratching, the users look for amplified mundane sounds.

The following video by sound artist ASMR Bakery has had over 14 million views.

Simulations of affection

The narrations that simulate affection are also very popular. In these instances, a whispered speech that expresses tender loving care is mixed with very human sounds that reinforce this illusion of connection: smacking of lips, guttural sounds, breathing, and the slight brushing with the microphone simulate caressing. These sounds are created solely to induce a sense of well-being similar to what we get when we are in contact with another. There are sounds, for example, that give us a tickling sensation.

The following sleep-inducing video by Spaniard Ana Muñoz has had 13 million views. She is one of the most famous Spanish-speaking ASMR artists.

People eating

Videos of people licking or eating food are some of the most pleasure-inducing of the ASMR universe. One of the leaders in this category is SouthKorean-American artist Zach Choi. As his viewing numbers demonstrate, he combines Mukbang videos—videos of people eating—with sound, mixing two highly popular pleasures.

This video shows Zach eating honey, aloe vera, and macarons with over 75 million views.

Unintentional ASMR

Unintentional ASMR, many people claim, is the original ASMR. These videos offer real stories and interesting sounds and are extracts of daily life, with no intention to create ASMR responses. The narrative is not forced, there are many quiet periods, and the sequence of noises is logical, natural, and not pre-planned.

The gentleman interviewed in the video was unaware of creating ASMR content over 8 million people would enjoy.

Do you want to record stories and sounds in your own home? You can start to learn about the technical world of sound in the course Podcast Creation for Beginners.

You may also like:

- Meet Prize-Winning Author and Podcaster Chico Felitti, in this Domestika Diary
- The Best Free Sound and Music Libraries for Editing Your Podcast
- Essential Equipment for Creating Podcasts

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