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May 10, 2024
min read
Aviva Matan

How an Award-Winning Breakdancer Broke into YouTube Kids

DJ Raphi was a national breakdancing star and world-renowned DJ before starting his own local DJ and events company. In 2020 he started making dance tutorial videos for kids and found massive success online. With over 280 million views, DJ Raphi combines high-energy dancing with unique animations and graphics, inspiring viewers of all ages to get moving.

We recently sat down with the award-winning breakdancer-turned-DJ-creator about his YouTube journey.

DJ Raphi

Channel Subscribers: 626K 

Lifetime Channel Views: Over 290 Million

Started YouTube: 2015

Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me a bit about your background before your YouTube career. 

I was born in South Africa and moved with my family to Israel when I was eight. I started studying music when I was ten.  I began with drumming and then moved to playing piano and guitar. And then at sixteen, I got into dancing, beatboxing, and DJing, all while in high school. I started winning breakdancing and beatboxing competitions around the world. I was also being flown around the world as a DJ. And then in 2013, I got married and started a DJ business.

How did you start on YouTube?

My first video was in 2015, but it was to promote my DJ business for private events and didn’t get many views.

Everything changed When COVID hit in 2020. I had to shut down my DJ business and figure out my next step. My family encouraged me to start a YouTube channel teaching dance. I began with vlogs about staying active during COVID-19 and then tried dance videos, which initially struggled. The first dance video, “The Chacha Slide”, didn't take off initially, only getting about 300 views after three weeks. But we persisted, investing our savings into creating more dance videos, hoping they'd catch on. By the fourth video, things started picking up. Today, “Chacha Slide” is my most viewed video with around 47 million views. The channel gained momentum rapidly, with hundreds of thousands of views on videos by June or July, about 23 months after starting in March 2020.

How did you initially grow your YouTube channel's audience?

Initially, I used an online tool that provided behind-the-scenes stats on YouTube channels, competitors, search terms, titles, and tags. It helped me identify the most searched songs. Then I would take songs like "Uptown Funk" or "YMCA," and create original dances for them, incorporating classic moves. I'd upload these videos with catchy titles, effects, and animations, ensuring they contained relevant search keywords. This drew viewers who stumbled upon my videos while searching for these songs. Another effective strategy was to encourage active engagement by standing up while watching my videos. This immersion in movement made viewers want more. I also used end-screen videos to guide viewers to related content on my channel.  

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while building your YouTube presence?

Looking back, I can say there were four main challenges:


Initially, we were investing heavily in video production without realizing that using copyrighted music meant we weren't earning anything from ads. So we had massive exposure because we were using very popular songs, but we weren't making any money off of them. And then when the time was right, which was in 2022 we started creating original music for the original dances. Then all the rights belonged to me and I was able to monetize those videos and we finally started to make money. 

Assembling the right team

When COVID hit, I had to let go of my employees, leaving me to handle everything alone. I tackled this by learning video editing through online tutorials and practice.


Investing money into uncertain ventures always carries the risk of failure. Despite this, I continued to invest, believing it would pay off eventually.


So like I said, I was spending a lot of money on these videos at first, but I wasn't getting any exposure because nobody knew who I was. And now I have the exposure, but I'm still spending a lot of money on these videos. So it's kind of like a balance of, you know, how much money I'm spending and how much exposure I'm getting. But I think I'm striking the right balance. 

What are your different income streams at the moment?

So my income comes from DJing, YouTube ad revenue, brand deals, merchandise, memberships, cameo videos, and putting my original music on streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

Future revenue streams may include customized content and courses.

How do you balance creating content for YouTube with managing your other ventures?

Initially, YouTube was secondary to my DJ business. However, events like the 2023 war in Israel canceled my DJ events locally and worldwide. Like after COVID now YouTube is a primary focus, and I have expanded my team.

Are you on other platforms, and if so, what has been your experience?

Aside from YouTube, I am on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Now, TikTok, to be honest, isn't my favorite. I find a lot of the content there lacks substance and is more about quick, entertaining dopamine hits rather than educational content. YouTube, on the other hand, is where I see real educational value. You can easily find informative content on any topic you're interested in.

On TikTok, I do share short videos occasionally, but I haven't gained much traction there. I have around 5,000 followers. Instagram is more active for me with about 12,500 followers. I share behind-the-scenes content, my journey, events, and my DJ business travels there. While I've had some videos on Instagram go viral, it's inconsistent.

As for Facebook, I mainly use it to share links to my YouTube videos and connect with groups that might be interested in my content, such as teachers' groups. I have around 5,000 followers there as well. Overall, YouTube remains my primary focus for content creation and engagement.

What advice would you offer to aspiring YouTubers?

Firstly, passion is key. I've been at this for four years, and my passion keeps me going strong. Choose a topic you're genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about, something you can see yourself doing for the long haul.

Investment is important too. While you don't need a massive budget, don't skimp on quality. Consider hiring a professional videographer or investing in good equipment. I recently spent $10,000 upgrading my gear, and it's been worth it.

Independence is crucial, especially in the beginning. Even with a team, I know I can still create content on my own if needed. Having basic editing skills and knowing how to handle other aspects of production gives you flexibility and resilience.

Lastly, don't go it alone. Find someone to collaborate with, even if it's just for certain tasks like scripting, filming, or promotion. Brainstorming ideas with a partner can lead to better content and lighten the workload.

Could you share any memorable moments from your YouTube journey?

Receiving the silver plaque from YouTube for 100,000 subscribers was a surreal moment, symbolizing the payoff of hard work. Seeing worldwide impact through videos of kids dancing to my content, especially in countries with strained relations with Israel, has been heartwarming. Also, experiencing the disbelief of students when I surprised them at a school performance was super funny and touching.

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