How to become a YouTube Sensation 101

I don't actually believe that I've uncovered the secret to how one becomes a YouTube sensation but, like all performing artists these days, I would do well to figure it out. What do I consider to be a YouTube sensation anyway? For the purposes of this post, I'll define it as a person or band with over 1,000,000 views. My somewhat arbitrary definition has to do with a recent personal obsession: Dirty Loops

Enter the song "Circus." If you aren't familiar with this song already, check out the original Britney Spears version for however long you can stand it - then, check out Dirty Loops' cover...


So, how could three music nerds from Europe with no label support or a manager (at the time) ever hope to attract any attention for their jazz/pop/fusion/Rn'B music? That video you just watched (I certainly hope you did - to the end!) has over 1,000,000 views. Next up, something even more inane from Justin Bieber...


So who are these guys (yes, the bass player IS a dude)? From the band's website:

Formed in 2009, Dirty Loops is a Swedish power trio that twists pop music in a way never done before. After attending the Royal the Music Academy in Stockholm they formed a band and began recording. Their first video, "Just Dance," released in November 2010, became a huge success and without any promotion, was viewed over 100,000 times and shared on Facebook by over 10,000 people within two months.

As I write, I see that their YouTube channel now has 6,108,722 views and counting. You probably just added two more.

Our final example: the ubiquitous pop anthem "Rolling In The Deep."

I've been subjecting everyone around me to the question at hand. My colleague Martin Urbach suggested that I check out this Ted Talk on "Why Videos Go Viral." by Kevin Allocca. Kevin is currently the Trends Manager at YouTube.

My Cliff Notes are as follows:

How does a video go viral?
1. Tastemakers
* authorities in a community of interest who bring your video to a wider audience and who take a point of view
• they accelerate the viral spread by connecting you to their viewers, readers, fans, etc.

2. Communities of participation
* people that spread your video
* people that imitate your video
* people who are inspired to respond to your video through creativity and participation - remixes, arrangements, etc.

3. Unexpectedness
* the video is surprising
* the video is shocking
* the video is funny

I look forward to continuing this discussion with you on FB or wherever, but for now let's try to distill something from this experience:

#1 Be really, really, really... REALLY good at what you do. This is a time-consuming endeavor but the hard work and sacrifice can lead to great enjoyment for you and others. If that's not what you're into then I can't tell you nuthin'.

#2 Scour YouTube for the most viral, most watched, most shared music videos and see if any appeal to you. Also take note of the ones that offend or disgust you, musically or otherwise (you should pick those). Now get creative. You will probably find that in the compositional areas of melody, harmony, and rhythm that there is very little to work with. That's where you must refer back to point #1 and get to work.

#3 Pick your song, write the arrangement, keep it short, and learn how to play the piss out of it.

#4 Create a YouTube channel where you can begin to build your portfolio of awesomeness.

#5 Record yourself performing. Make sure to also record a video of the performance. That way, when your bass player blows his hair on the final note of an insanely sick run, everybody can talk about that too and share it with their friends. Seriously.

I hope you enjoyed reading and watching today's post as much as I enjoyed writing and researching it.

Until next time,