The talent-hunting reality shows may have started it, but music videos in general, and social media sites, YouTube in particular, have transformed and rebranded music and their artists from entertainment to a lifestyle experience. The interactive component in shows like American Idol, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, and their various versions have given their millions of viewers part of the power to decide who wins and who loses.
In that act of calling in, emailing or texting their votes, the audience becomes part of the experience, which does not die once the champion has been chosen. By the time the top contestants make the final cut, they have already created a fandom who will follow them and their career, regardless of their ultimate ranking on the show. (Now whether or not their post-talent-show efforts will sustain that fandom is another story.)
That experience is then captured and nurtured through social media. Friends comment on the music videos of their favorite stars and invite their fellow fans to jump in. The artists fan the flame even further by posting more videos and tweeting back their replies. At that point, “music” is not just a listening act, to be complemented by the occasional pay-per-view concert or DVD’s; it has become part of fan’s lifestyle.
Just take a look at what has been happening during Valentine’s Day for the past few years. According to Billboard, the sending of links to romantic music videos has become a tradition as much as sending flowers and chocolates. In fact, YouTube has identified 18 romantic music videos with links that jump 50 percent every single year or at least 20,000 page views every day from February 12 to 15. A look at the top five can give you an idea of the annual favorites: Laura Pausini’s La Cose Che Vivi (1996), Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E (1964), Axel’s Ammo (2005), Franco de Vita’s Te Amo (1988), and Joaquin Sabira or Sabina y Cia’s Contigo (1996).
Music channels, promoting networks, brands, and artists, still dominate YouTube’s top 100 channels as of January 2016, says TubeFilter. Justin Bieber’s VEVO rules the charts at top spot with 824 million views. Netd Muzik ranks 8th with 430 million, while EMI Music is at number 7 with 426 million. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift’s VEVO at the 13th place with 372 million, while Adele’s is at the 14th spot with 349 million. The rest of the list includes brands like Spinnin Records, Weekend VEVO, One Direction VEVO, Katy Perry VEVO, and of course, GMM Grammy Official.
Hypebot observes that music buffs were beginning to treat their music experience as similar to following their streaming movies. Like all things Internet, they want to have their music whenever they want it – and in loads through playlists and channels. They plunk down on YouTube and their favorite channel fully armed, with plugs to their huge HDTV, sensurround speakers and network extenders, like the ones from 5BARz International, to make sure their internet connection goes on without interruption. The day of clicking on an individual favorite song is vanishing.
Would the strength of a music channel’s following influence something as formidable as the Grammy Awards? To find out, the award-winning body joined Billboard and YouTube in studying the 2015 YouTube hits of the standout nominees. The results are interesting, to say the least. Australian Meghan Trainor, the favorite for the best new artist, racked up 72 million page views in 2015, but almost all of them came from outside the United States, in countries like the Philippines, Mexico, and Indonesia. D’Angelo, the critics’ darling for Record of the Year, has less than 100,000 music video hits, which is miles below competition like Taylor Swift who got at least 7 million hits. The song of the year contenders like Little Big Town’s Girl Crush and Kendrick Lamar’s Alright got less than a million hits from some American cities, which actually levels the playing field.
Trainor and Swift won in their respective categories. The study and the eventual Grammy wins conclude that while YouTube hits may not directly dictate a Grammy win, its influence on it cannot be simply dismissed.
It is the experience that will keep the millions of YouTube music buffs keep tuning in. Hypebot opines that it is that special factor that has helped make Snapchat hugely popular especially among the movie-loving Millennials. They can download and enjoy their favorite movie videos and share it with selected friends, and not the whole video-loving community. This making the videos Shareable and yet ‘private’ makes them feel like they are part of the privileged few, like fans who have access to their artists’ dressing rooms – while the rest of the adoring crowd is left out in the cold.
From SMS’ing the fans’ favorite artist choice to a TV show to sharing their favorite music videos in their inner circle, social media is elevating music to a whole new experience. With the enticement of seeming real-live interaction with VR on the horizon, this is just the beginning.