REBECCA BLACK: WINNERS AND LOSERS

A week ago, I certainly didn’t intend to write (or obsess) so much about Rebecca Black and her viral internet meme “Friday”. However, there is so so much to learn from this track. In one week, this song basically upended the music business conversation. What are the results of this?

WINNER: REBECCA BLACK
As she’s shown on her Good Morning America interview, she is making lemons out of lemonades. Make no bones about it, this song is selling (reached Top 20 on iTunes) and is going to be a valuable copyright for years to come.

LOSER: EVERY SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST BAND
At my SxSW panel on Saturday, I did the math. If you combined every view of “Friday” and its parody videos, approximately 62 Million minutes were spent on this song. That’s presuming that, on average, the viewers only watched half the video. In the meantime, if the approximately 15,000 SxSW attendees watched 12 hours of music a day for all 5 days, that would only add up to 54 Million minutes spent watching music. All hopes of fame from Austin got upstaged by a 13 year old.

WINNER: KIM KARDASHIAN
Her song “Jam (Turn Me Up)” was looking to get “worst song” honors for the month of March. Now, nobody’s talking about it. People will forget Kim ever even released anything, which is probably for the best. In my opinion, Kim’s song is actually far worse than Rebecca Black’s.

LOSER: ANY POP ACT RELEASED IN THE NEXT MONTH
In one moment in 1991, Nirvana made every pop hair metal band seem irrelevant. For different reasons, all the paint-by-numbers pop songs will seem like just that in the month ahead.

WINNER: ARK MUSIC FACTORY
If you truly have talent, you shouldn’t have to pay upfront for someone to “make you a star”. If Ark were a true record label, Rebecca’s parents wouldn’t have fronted the $2k for her video. Now that it’s a huge success, I guarantee they are flooded with requests from parents to make their children stars. They’ll make revenue from this for several years.

LOSER: PARENTS
“Mommy, I want to be a star just like Rebecca Black! I heard you just have to send me to their classes.” First the parents will be nagged to death. Then, even if they don’t sign up for Ark Music Factory, they’ll succumb to a different scam school that will claim they’re “just like Ark”. Parents beware.

WINNER: OTHER ARK MUSIC FACTORY ARTISTS
Look beneath the surface and you’ll find a few other singers who got in before “Friday” blew up are now finding some internet success too. Check out Alana Lee, who supposedly introduced Rebecca to Ark with her 2 million views. Or the 5 other artists who each have over 350k views in one week as of this writing.

LOSER: MAJOR LABEL A&R
These guys have trouble launching one act a month. Now this upstart has effectively launched 7 artists in one week? And all of them would have been rejected by the same A&R folks. I’m not saying that’s bad (I would’ve rejected them too) but boy someone’s gotta be held accountable here.

WINNER: THE ARK FACTORY RAPPER
I don’t know who he is, but he’s in every one of their videos. His solo video has gotta be coming and watch that blow up too.

LOSER: THE NAME VALUE OF THE “GUEST RAPPER”
The asking price for those guest raps in those major label tracks probably went down a bit this week.

WINNER: YOUTUBE
Their ability for anyone to upload anything produces overnight successes like this. This attracts even more people to their platform. Also, this firmly makes them a broadcaster, probably more than any previous video. 21 million views in a week? That’s more than nearly EVERY show on TV (cable or broadcast) receives in a week INCLUDING the DVR play. The fact that they have also successfully conquered with mobile apps and IPTV just increases their reach.

LOSER: VEVO
The music industry’s supposed white knight got upstaged in a big way. Turns out quality (of the song or HD transmission) doesn’t matter. The viewer goes to what they want to see. Also, Rebecca Black got more views in 9 days of “Friday” than Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” did in 3x the days. Lady Gaga’s a huge star. Her new video got massive blog pickup like “Friday”. It was also hugely promoted as an “exclusive” on the VEVO site. If “Friday” can beat all that, something is wrong with Vevo and there’s some explainin’ to do.

WINNER: NEW CHART METHODOLOGY
In Austin, I discussed with Eric Charland of Ultimate Chart about how high Rebecca Black will debut next week. With the numbers she’s had, it’s painfully obvious that this dominated the entire conversation. Quality of the song was irrelevant. Since it wasn’t in heavy rotation on pop radio, it likely won’t be at #1 on their chart, but it’ll properly debut high. This will give Ultimate Chart even more credibility on truly leading in identifying a song’s true popularity.

LOSER: THE ALBUM CHART
When the Soundscan Top 200 album chart is released on Wednesday, Adele will be battling a new album by Rise Against. Nothing against either artist, but this week the battle was Rebecca Black vs. everything else. If you use Google search as a gauge, there’s just no competition. The album chart has been irrelevant for quite some time. It no longer reflects our time. This should end the discussion and let’s focus on singles where the business IS rather than albums where the business WAS.

WINNER: LUCK
In that same conversation, Eric Garland said it best: “Denying the luck factor makes you too smart for your own good.”

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11 Responses to “REBECCA BLACK: WINNERS AND LOSERS”

  1. Matt Blick March 21, 2011 at 3:34 pm # Reply

    You just hit the ball out of the park Jay – excellent post

  2. Jenn Bostic March 21, 2011 at 11:25 pm # Reply

    This blows my mind! Great post.

  3. Gary Reynolds March 22, 2011 at 9:29 am # Reply

    Big kudos!

  4. Steve Jones March 22, 2011 at 9:38 am # Reply

    Great post Jay. Fantastic analysis of a song that has most of us speechless. Your most salient point, I think, is the impact this has on the bland pop-hits to come in the next few months. This could definitely expose the fraud.
    It isn’t of the magnitude of the Nirvana impact, but it could very well be a turning point that brings back more personal and passionate songs by real singers.

  5. C. Lee March 22, 2011 at 10:31 am # Reply

    Ha ha ha! Great post, hilarious! Glad I missed SXSW. However, this should be categorized as a novelty, not pop, song, and pop history is lousy with such hits. Will her next song be dumb enough to capture this kind of attention again? Probably not…

  6. gary earl March 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm # Reply

    hey jay, great post, enjoyed it. don’t know if you remember me, met you the night david interviewed you at the grammy house. love the way your brain works – fast and you don’t miss the irony of our business. :) hope your having a good spring. best, g

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