So some of you may already know this, but I’m an avid member of the Quora community. It’s like “Yahoo Answers” but way better because you can follow people and subjects (like Audio Engineering for example), and you can vote up/down answers which means people reading the answers can see the reliability of an answer by the number of votes it’s got.
Anyway, I recently answered a question there, that was “What should I do to become the next Psy and make the next Gangnam Style?”… I thought this was an interesting question, since it reveals a major flaw in what I see as the publics understanding of fame, and more importantly; the “overnight sensation”. So here was my answer…
You can’t *choose* to be the next big thing. Even if you were the most talented musician/producer in the world, you would still need to rely on several other elements being in place in the right combination, and even then an extra bit of luck wouldn’t go amiss.
First of all, these “overnight sensations” don’t actually happen overnight… It just so happens that perhaps you and your friends have all heard of it overnight, but in the case of Psy for example, he’d been a hard working musician for many years beforehand, and had a fair amount of success in his home country already. Gangnam Style also had backing from private investors and major record labels across the world.
Add to this, that YouTube videos don’t become an internet sensation or meme, without a large amount of product development, private investment, and pin-point accuracy in PR planning. Yes we may very well share videos like this across our social networks and boost the exposure, but a video on YouTube needs to reach a “tipping point” before it gets to that stage, and this is usually from it being on the front page of the the website.
Let’s do some maths… Let’s say I uploaded a video to my YouTube channel now, well I’m just one of millions of users that do this every day. Nothing new, right? OK, so I personally have about 2000 Twitter followers, around 16,000 Facebook fans, and about 6000 MySpace fans. If I uploaded the funniest most shareable video ever right now, then about 10% of those people would see it, totalling around 2400 people. Of those, I’d be lucky if even half of them liked it enough to share it, but let’s say that was the case, so now the figures become harder to work out, but we can assume it has at least a half-life from here, so I would expect something in the region of 3000-4000 views… Now for the IMPORTANT bit… In reality when I upload a video, I normally get a few hundred views.
I mentioned that YouTube has a “tipping point”, and there’s a good reason for that. The video I would have uploaded, would have been one of millions uploaded that day. However, YouTube has a “featured” video of the day and “Most Viewed” of the day/week/etc section too, of which the top 20 are featured on the front page. This means that if your video made it to the front page, your video would be seen by 1 in 20 people logging in, rather than 1 in tens-of-millions. That is where the tipping point comes from, and in order to get there, you need an absolute minimum of 50,000 views in 24hrs.
50,000 views in 24hrs comes from a stack of cash, careful planning, and of course a product worth the investment. Unless of course you already have 50+million fans on social networks that you can take advantage of.
And all of this doesn’t include the fact that Gangnam Style was a well written song, and perfectly produced for Pop, with a perfectly executed video containing all the right elements of catchy hooks, memorable moments, funny moments, and a whole lot of talent in all the right places.