Harlem Shake: Everything to know about YouTube's viral successor to "Gangnam Style"
It's a viral video. Big whoop. Hold on, not so fast...
As you know, this not the first time that imitation vids have caught on. Last summer "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen achieved ubiquitous status with the help of viral vids by football cheerleaders and ROTC teams. The difference here, though, is the short length of video and the desire to follow an established format. It is easy to cast and shoot a video. The hardest thing seems to be coming up with something clever for your friends, co-workers or teammates to be doing once the beat drops. One of the great rules of the internet is: "Be Exceptional." This is a watershed moment because the template leads everyone that wants to to the edge of exceptional, and all they have to do is come up with something, (anything,) surprising, funny, or mildly clever; and boom -- you are exceptional, too.
Okay, so why is this viral phenomenon so noteworthy?
The other big difference here is the money. Right now we can clearly establish two revenue streams for the Harlem Shake: YouTube's content ID system and an old fashioned idea called record sales. According to Billboard.com, earlier this year Baauer's record label (the Diplo owned Mad Decent imprint) inked a deal with a company called INDMUSIC.
Now when you upload a personal video to YouTube and use a copyrighted piece of music, instead of banning your video, YouTube, in concert with companies like INDMUSIC, identify the music and as your awesome video accrues views, pre-roll commercials that generate revenue for the owner of the song. It's taken almost a decade, but it seems like YouTube and business are starting to understand how the internet works, and the enormity of it.
In the case of "Harlem Shake" just shy of 15,000 people have made an awesome video featuring that copyrighted work, and each of those videos is getting hundreds of thousands of views every day. The idea of generating revenue as YouTube partner is a business model for many creative artists, and Mad Decent is quoted in the Billboard piece as stating that their business depends on YouTube revenue, which considering all the plays, would have been enough, but then a funny thing happened on the way to the pre-roll -- the record started selling.
So, wait, the song's actually making money?
Yep. Lots of it, it appears. Last Sunday night, as the coolest people on Twitter were predicting a nod to the Harlem Shake on the Grammys (didn't happen) and making jokes about Baauer breaking the internet (they had no idea), and this week, "Harlem Shake" checked in on iTunes Top 100 at #51. By Tuesday, it had moved up to #31. By Wednesday it was at #19. Thursday, it entered the Top 10, and right now, it's sitting at #1 on iTunes.