Musicians talk about it all the time. “My new video is great and I’m sure it’s going viral.” Viral can mean anywhere from a million views to 90+ million. There are websites that “teach” you how to create a video that will go viral and people try to use formulas to make it happen. The truth is, no one knows what will hit. Just like trying to write a “hit” song is a complete crap shoot, so is aiming for a viral video. The public decides what is amazing and what isn’t. Record companies have gotten plenty of surprises over the years when songs that were sure to be “hits”fell flat. On the flip side, tracks that were all but forgotten have sometimes exploded after hitting the airwaves. It cannot be predicted, that’s part of the magic.
It’s also a myth that lots of videos go viral. Actually, it is rare when something truly explodes out of nowhere. Of course legendary artists with millions of fans have videos with millions of views, but to me, that’s nothing unexpected. Unless, it is a live undeniable performance that just knocks your socks off, then famous or not, it’s worth viewing. A perfect example of a performance that deserves viewing is a raw heartfelt moment from Bruno Mars. Singing,”When I Was Your Man,” this is just pure, raw talent. Unlike most of his peers Bruno knows how to build a song and melt your heart, without auto-tune, or lots of bells and whistles. The man is a powerhouse. Watch this incredible performance that captured hearts around the world.
One of the first groundbreaking videos came from REM with “Losing My Religion.” Start with a phenomenal song, add stunning visuals and the bar is set really high for those to follow. You can’t stop watching this video, it draws you in with gorgeous imagery and the song is so addictive that you want to watch the video over and over. Remarkable. BTW, upon its release it was considered an unlikely hit. A hit song based on a mandolin riff? Go figure.
Some artists try to shock or just be bizarre in order to force a video to go viral but that usually ends up just being embarrassing. Nothing is really left to shock us. It’s been done. You are much better off writing great songs, being creative with video ideas and being true to your brand. That’s exactly what Macklemore and Ryan Lewis did with Thrift Shop. At the first annual You Tube awards last night they won for Breakthrough video.
Perhaps the You Tube awards could use some work as well. The show was well, a bit contrived. Perhaps less award shows would be a better plan.
Here is a list of winners at the You Tube Awards last night.
2013 YouTube Music Awards — Full List Of Winners
Video of the Year: “I Got A Boy,” Girls’ Generation
Artist of the Year: Eminem
Response of the Year: Lindsey Stirling & Pentatonix, “Radioactive”
YouTube Phenomenon: “I Knew You Were Trouble”
YouTube Breakthrough: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Innovation of the Year: DeStorm, “See Me Standing”
As far as videos coming out of nowhere and having a hook that catches fire, PSY’s Gangnam Style takes the cake.
That prompted millions of others to do it “Gangnam Style,” including to my amusement, Ballet companies. Ridiculous right?
So how do I make a great video, you ask? Start with a fantastic song. If the song suits you perfectly and you “see” imagery to go along with, making an accompanying video may be a good plan. Don’t force the song or the video based on some odd preconceived idea you have of what will sell. No one knows that until it is released. The fans decide what works and what doesn’t. If you aren’t spending a lot of time perfecting your songwriting, then you need to start. Have you bothered to analyze the songs of your musical heroes to break down the melody, chord progressions, and song structure? What is it about their songs that makes them so great? You have to work on songwriting and approach it every day with a strong work ethic. It takes time to write great songs. Some people get lucky or have a gift, making most of their songs winners. For the rest of us, there are many pieces of crumpled up paper in the trash that started out as our new “hit song.” WORK on your music every day. Be honest with yourself and continue to deconstruct the songs of the masters to try to understand the craft of songwriting. If you need help, I’m sure you have a coach who would be happy to lend a hand 🙂
The first five to seven thousand views on a video are the most difficult to get. After that, the video usually takes on some life of its own, or you can get some help from a partnership with Fullscreen if they accept you. They have strict requirements and you must have a great internet presence and lots of fans. The videos have to be fabulous and have at least 7K views. They do amazing guerrilla marketing so no fake views here. BTW, don’t bother to buy views from a third-party, You Tube will shut you down. They police their site and that’s easy to spot.
It all starts with a great song. Your entire music business, your fan base , your gigs, your videos, all depend on great songs. Work on your music, then when you have a great song, start thinking about creating an innovative video. It’s always best to work with a top-notch product. Dreaming is great but getting those dreams to manifest takes an insane amount of work. So dream on and while you are dreaming check out the top 20 videos of the last year. Will yours be next?