Analyzing the behavior of the younger generations, and how they use the online world, is critical for understanding the long-term trends of any industry. What is happening with the music world is making a lot of executives uneasy.
Very few people that regularly use the Internet do not know the Korean Rapper PSY and his hit song, Oppa Gangnam Style. Or Brazil’s Michel Teló and his hit “If I catch you”. They have achieved a level of online success, so fast, that has no rivals in the music world. Oppa Gangnam has broken the previous record of likes in Youtube, achieving over 2 million Likes; Guiness World Records has formally recognized the feat. He did what no other Korean pop singers or bands ever did: take the world by storm.
Korean pop bands, or K-pop, have tried several times to break-in into the American market. They had strong support from labels, lots of money invested, and no significant results. Out of the dark comes a rapper and rises meteorically. I remember the first time that I watched the video; it was a link from a meme site. Since it was in the early stages of the viral effect, I watched people in Brazil as they started to catch on with the video. He mastered he combination of creating something unique, fun, but more importantly, he understood what people wanted. If he did it by good luck, or if he actually designed it to have that effect, it doesn’t matter. He achieved it.
The online world is an open door to everybody. You don’t need someone to promote you, you just have to be talented on what you want to do, and understand how to communicate with people. Record labels are slowly noticing it, and getting scared. Why do you need the middlemen in a business that you can drive yourself? Will you have a wider audience, have more fans or make more money if you sign with a traditional label? That is getting harder to justify, and some artists are making a living without the traditional approach.
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