LOS ANGELES — Hype House, the physical location of a new content creator collective, is a Spanish-style mansion perched at the top of a hill on a gated street in Los Angeles. It has a palatial backyard, a pool and enormous kitchen, dining and living quarters.
Four of the group’s 19 members live in the house full time; several others keep rooms to crash in when they are in town. And all day long, a stream of influential young internet stars come by to pay homage to the new guard.
Hype House was formed in December by some of TikTok’s most talked-about stars. They introduced themselves with a Backstreet Boys-esque photo shoot, and within minutes #hypehouse began trending; videos including the hashtag #hypehouse have accrued nearly 100 million views on TikTok.
The group handle that distributes their content surpassed three million followers on TikTok in just over a week and a half. In the days leading up to Christmas it was all anyone under the age of 18 on TikTok seemed to be talking about.
So-called collab houses, also known as content houses, are an established tradition in the influencer world. Over the last five years they have formed a network of hubs across Los Angeles.
In 2014 members of an early collab channel called Our Second Life lived and worked together in what they called the 02L Mansion. The next year, nearly all the top talent on Vine moved into a large apartment complex at 1600 Vine Street.
Soon after, YouTuber mansions were popping up all over the city. The Vlog Squad shacked up in Studio City, while Team 10, Jake Paul’s infamous YouTuber collective, rented a giant house in West Hollywood before eventually decamping to a mansion in Calabasas.
Now, the TikTokers have arrived — and everything about TikTok happens faster than it does anywhere else.
Collab House Block Party
Collab houses are beneficial to influencers in lots of ways. Living together allows for more teamwork, which means faster growth, and creators can provide emotional support for what can be a grueling career.
“It’s a brilliant move for power players on these platforms to lift each other up,” said Sam Sheffer, a YouTuber and technologist. “‘Elevate others to elevate yourself’ is a saying, and it really rings true with this new generation of TikTokers.”
“From a management perspective, it’s great,” he added. “It just means all the kids will focus on content.”
Hype House was the brainchild of Chase Hudson, 17, a TikTok star with more than eight million followers who is known online as Lilhuddy, and Thomas Petrou, 21, a YouTube star.
The pair began plotting a move in November. Within 13 days they had signed a lease on their current residence. Originally, Chase hoped to name the group House of Olympus. He still thinks it sounds cooler, but then Alex Warren, 19, suggested the name Hype House, and Chase was outvoted.
Finding the right location for the house was key. A good collab house has lots of natural light, open space and is far from prying neighbors. A gated community is ideal, to prevent swarms of fans from showing up.
Brent Rivera, a YouTube star with more than 17 million followers on TikTok who also runs a talent incubator, said the perfect collab house “needs to be big, and the more amenities the better, like a pool, nice bathroom, nice lighting, big back and front yard, room for activities and fun stuff you can do inside or outside.”
Residents also must be able to film. Many influencers prefer the short-term rental structure of Airbnb, in part because obtaining a lease can be tough when you’re young and have an unpredictable income.
But unfortunately many Airbnbs in Los Angeles have a no-filming rule. (Homeowners worry about, among other things, tripods scratching the floors and the potential property damage that comes with YouTube stunts.)
The location Chase and Thomas found for Hype House checked all the boxes and had some additional features that make it perfect for TikTok: plenty of giant mirrors and a bathroom the size of a small apartment to film in. Because everyone just moved in, Hype House is also nearly without furniture, which makes shooting easier.
On Dec. 30, members clustered into the bathroom in rotating groups, doing back flips in front of a phone propped up on a roll of toilet paper supported by a Smartwater bottle. Fifteen-second clips of a DaBaby song looped until everyone had memorized the agreed-upon choreography.
After one group finished filming, they headed downstairs to lounge on three beanbag chairs. The house has a large glistening pool, but it’s too cold to swim in it right now. Hype House members prefer to hang out on the stone porches overlooking it. The sweeping staircase is also a popular backdrop.
Alex, Thomas, Daisy Keech, 20, and Kouvr Annon, 19, live at the house full time. As the oldest, Thomas acts as a default den mother. Though Chase helped put money down for the house, Thomas manages schedules, handles the house issues and resolves the inevitable conflicts. Unlike Team 10 and other groups, Hype House doesn’t take a cut of anyone’s revenue.
The house does have strict rules, however. Creators can have friends over, but it is not a party house. If you break something, you have 15 days to replace it. And if you want to be a part of the group, you need to churn out content daily.
“If someone slips up constantly, they’ll not be a part of this team anymore,” Thomas said. “You can’t come and stay with us for a week and not make any videos, it’s not going to work. This whole house is designed for productivity. If you want to party, there’s hundreds of houses that throw parties in L.A. every weekend. We don’t want to be that. It’s not in line with anyone in this house’s brand. This house is about creating something big, and you can’t do that if you’re going out on the weekends.”
In order to make a splash on the internet, you need the right people and so Chase acts as Hype House’s unofficial talent scout and a behind-the-scenes operator. He has a knack for spotting influencers early and knows what qualities it takes to get big online.
You have to be young, you have to “have a lot of energy and personality and honestly a little weird. The weird people get the furthest on the internet,” Chase said. “You either have to be talented at something, or a weird funny mix, or extremely good looking.”
Alex said, “If you have all three, you’re a TikTok god.”
The undisputed star of the group is Charli D’Amelio, a 15-year-old from Connecticut known as the reigning queen of TikTok. She and Chase appear to be dating; the two most often speak of each other as best friends.
Charli has amassed more than 15 million followers since joining the app this summer, and her fan base continues to grow at a wild rate. Her dance routines spur thousands of copycat videos; her rise has been so sharp and fast that she has become a meme.
Charli’s sister, Dixie D’Amelio, is 18 and has five million followers. Because they are still in school, both girls will continue to live with their parents in Connecticut but come out to Los Angeles when their schedules allow.
Charli is polite, thoughtful and soft-spoken in person. She is a trained dancer and has ambitions to dance full time. In December she performed with Bebe Rexha at a Jonas Brothers concert. Hype House has provided a safe space to help her cope with the stress and attention that come with overnight fame.
“The internet can be a little harsh,” she said. “Everyone here is ready to bring positivity and kindness.” Charli also credits the group for expanding her creativity and helping her branch into new content formats like vlogging.
“I’m trying things outside my comfort zone that I might not have done if I was alone in my room,” she said.
But her roots remain in dance. “I grew up in the dance competition world — everyone’s dream is to dance onstage. I’ve been a performer my whole life,” she said. “I say all the time, this is a dream. I’m living out everything I’ve ever wanted to do so early.”
Marc D’Amelio, who is Charli and Dixie’s father, said: “As parents, one thing we say all the time is that this is just about creating options for our kids. We don’t know where this is going, we don’t have any plans for Charli or Dixie to do this or that. We’re just riding it and enjoying it, and hopefully they can do things they love and most importantly be happy.”
Los Angeles, City of the Moment
The competition among young influencers in Los Angeles is fierce. Many YouTubers who have felt secure in their status as internet elites are now being threatened by the new wave of talent from TikTok that is flooding the city.
And even since the arrival of Hype House, many other TikTok collectives have been making plans to take on Los Angeles. Some TikTokers began discussing a Melanin Mansion for black creators, noting that Hype House is predominately white.
“TikTok has brought a younger group of creators. That energy is kind of pushing on a lot of older creators,” said Josh Sadowski, 19, a TikToker with nearly four million followers who lived in another TikTok collab house. “There’s all these kids who want to move to L.A. and make content, and TikTok is pushing their growth so much. Everybody is really, really driven. They’re bringing that energy to L.A., and it’s rubbing off on everyone else. No one wants to miss out.”
Evidence of this is all over the city. TikTok’s primary United States office — the company is based in China — is in Los Angeles. At sunset on a recent Friday, six TikTok shoots were taking place simultaneously on the Venice boardwalk.
Several TikTok creators began hosting twice-a-week collab days at the Burbank Town Center in the fall; Josh was shocked at how many kids began showing up.
Every influencer brings friends and “the group just gets bigger and bigger,” he said. “The energy is very different. I’ve been around YouTubers, but the energy now, people are so motivated and you can feel that motivation in these collabs. It creates a hype.”
TalentX Entertainment, a talent management incubator, has rented a giant collab house in Bel Air called the Sway House, where six TikTokers, all with millions of followers, will move in on Jan. 3. One member of the Council House, a group of British and Irish TikTokers, visited Los Angeles this week and posted about his plans to “infiltrate America.”
Too much hype inevitably attracts drama, and Hype House members are extremely wary of it. They are careful about who they film with, what they wear, how they act and how things can be interpreted online.
If a Hype House member has a girlfriend, for instance, that member may avoid filming with another girl alone, so as not to start rumors.
The house itself could bring drama someday. MaiLinh Nguyen, a former videographer for Jake Paul, said money can play a huge role in trouble.
“I don’t think it’s sustainable to just be a collective forever,” she said. “At some point if they want to do a pop-up shop, or release Hype House merch, they need to figure out how to divvy things up financially and they’re going to have to legitimize it as a business.”
Michael Gruen, the vice president of talent at TalentX Entertainment, said many of these collectives are creating valuable intellectual property. A commission structure should be negotiated from the start, he said, and thought should be given to incorporation and insurance and everything else that comes along with running a business.
“As I’ve told many of these creator houses,” Mr. Gruen said, “before you dig deep into raising the value of the I.P., make sure that you have the splits organized so it doesn’t come into play and ruin friendships.”
Carson King, 20, a YouTuber who lives in a collab house with several YouTuber friends, said that for him and many others, a looser arrangement can work great, and creates less pressure.
“I think it’s a dream for a lot of people to be able to move in with friends and be able to work on whatever you want to work on,” he said. He and his housemates keep things like whiteboards around their collab house so they can write down video ideas anytime.
“The big struggle creators have is that people around them don’t understand at all the culture of what they’re doing,” said Mitch Moffit, 31, a YouTuber who lived in a collab house when he was starting out.
This is the value for young people: If you want to immerse yourself in influencer and internet culture, there’s no better place to be. Chase, Thomas, Charli and other members of Hype House are aware of how lucky they are, how fleeting fame can be, and they don’t want to squander the opportunity.
“It’s 24/7 here. Last night we posted at 2 a.m.,” Thomas said. “There’s probably 100 TikToks made here per day. At minimum.”
Orignially published in NYT.