The Realities Of My Dream Of Being a Rock Star
Two weeks ago I participated in a panel at OMMA that discussed this exact topic: the definition of a "hit" in a fragmented world. I actually kept thinking about it because it's a very interesting question to me. My answer was pretty simple: a hit is anything that's profitable for an individual or a company to produce and distribute. However, I want to revise my statement slightly to say that a hit should be anything that achieves reach beyond your immediate surroundings and can be monetized in a manner satisfying to the producers.
On MySpace and YouTube (or "Google Tube" as it's now being called) we continue to see the development of stars and hit-makers on a weekly basis. This phenomenon ranges from Lonelygirl15 and Tila Tequila to anything related to Lazy Sunday. The Asian Backstreet Boys late last year fit the bill, as will dozens of other productions to come over the next year. We see communities spring up around personalities able to find ways to spread their songs, their videos and their other creations in a way that can certainly be considered successful, probably for little to no marketing money. Without any actual budget, these personalities have become household names--albeit only in certain kinds of households representative of the fragmentation of the audience, and the ease of access to new information through digital technology.
MySpace launching a record label is a logical extension of this business because it allows the company to help monetize these people on a daily basis, proving that there truly is a business model within social networking. I'm sure YouTube is in plans to start financing movies and developing productions using the access it has to millions of aspiring filmmakers. If a film can be produced for $10,000 or less and the content is strong enough, it stands to reason that a hit can be created using access to these millions of consumers.
I worked at IUMA, a site that was a home for aspiring musicians, around 1998-1999. Now I realize that IUMA was ahead of its time. If IUMA could partner with MySpace or YouTube now, it would be a hit-making machine because the fragmentation of the audience has finally caught up to the technology for distributing the content. What we are seeing is that the definition of a hit will depend simply on the quality of the content and its ability to find its own audience through the sheer power of its own legs.
So maybe I do have a chance. Maybe, with a little practice, I can fill a stadium, or at least a virtual stadium, with thousands of people singing my song. At the very least, maybe I can find a couple hundred people who would want to hear my stuff. If I can find even 100, I'd consider that a hit. Wouldn't you?