So, we’ve all seen it… on tv shows, on popular blogs, or hearing from a friend of a friend of a friend, that, “Oh yea, what’s-his-name posted a video, and it went fucking viral! Four million people saw that video, and now he’s got… like… a career, or whatever, making videos, you know? Word!”
I remember how, on so many tv shows, they would have an ‘internet-themed’ episode, where some character does something stupid, and posts it on youtube, and then – BAM! – instant success, instant fame, and now they have to pick up the pieces of dealing with stardom. Ten thousand billion-trillion hits (and counting) on their little video.
It’s typically a bunch of bullshit, and here’s why…
You’re probably not going to have anything you do ‘go viral,’ for a long time. But actually, before I get on to that, let’s back up a second, and allow me to explain something… What is Viral, really?
Here’s a little blurb from Wikipedia…
“The adjective or adverb viral and the noun virality may refer to any viral phenomenon, that is, an object or pattern that is able to induce some agents to replicate it, resulting in many copies being produced and spread around. For example, virality relating to social, cultural, emotional and affective contagions that spread through sociotechnical networks.”
So, if you post an image to Facebook of a sad clown tripping over a cute kitten, and someone shares the image to Tumblr, and someone shares that to Twitter, and Anderson Cooper sees it and posts it on CNN, that’s ‘viral,’ right? Or, at least, that’s the idea, right?
Here’s the thing. You’re probably on this site because you want to make music, don’t you? So how do you make your first album go viral? Chances are, it won’t.
Let me repeat that, it won’t.
There’s this myth out there, that everyone knows about (but few talk about it as being a myth) that basically makes people believe they can achieve instant stardom with very little work. All you have to do is ‘get lucky,’ eh? Yes, it’s happened, I know, but let’s get realistic for a second… Most of the ‘reality-stars’ don’t really go very far, do they? I mean, some of them get their fifteen minutes of fame, but then what? Remember that ‘I Love New York,’ woman? Does anyone? Where is she now? She was trying to make a name for herself, but it sort of fizzled out, didn’t it?
If your goal is to ‘go viral,’ and have everyone see what you’re doing, wouldn’t it be better if you already had a ton of work done, and a lot of content to show for yourself? I mean, think about it, if you did have ‘that one awesome viral video,’ and it leads people back to your site, wouldn’t it be great if you had more than one or two tracks to show people?
If you had a whole album, or a whole string of albums, people would be more likely to buy them up and talk about you then if you just had one song that people could just listen to, over and over again, right?
Do you see what I’m saying, now? The whole ‘going viral’ thing isn’t a ‘bad’ thing, but it isn’t something you should really be hoping for if you don’t have much for people to virally link back to you for… and even if you don’t ‘go viral,’ right away (which you probably won’t) what is the big deal? If you put in hard work, and smart work, and good work, there’s a decent chance people will start to see it, eventually. I know that’s not the glorified myth that people want to hear. It’s not the instant-fame story people want to easily run into. It’s not a big bag of gold someone put on your front doorstep. But come on, which reality is that supposed to take place in, anyway?
Pretty much anyone who ‘goes viral,’ and then manages to stay afloat afterwards (and develop a career out of) probably had a good career prospect to begin with. Those who had nothing to offer tend to see their viral-careers die out pretty quickly.
There are, of course, a small number of exceptions – but those exceptions are broadcast over and over and over, as the media shoves them in your face as it screams at you, “Here, here it is – you can be popular like this stupid lucky person, isn’t it great?”
No, it’s a goddamn carrot on a goddamn string. They want you to think you could get lucky, so you’ll stay tuned through the next few commercials (and then buy deodorant or beer or whatever) and then watch the five-minute clip they have about the newest so-and-so internet start who “got lucky.”
You might say, “Wait a minute, people do get lucky! People win the lottery everyday!”
True, they do. Out of seven billion people, a few do get lucky. A few. Only a few. I never buy lottery tickets, and I think it’s just one more way to trick the poor into giving up their money, a couple dollars at a time… “Look at the fabulous winners!” No, I don’t want to, it’s a bunch of bullshit. That’s not how most people get wealthy or successful (you know else who also ‘gets lucky’…? The people selling the lottery tickets… just saying…)
Unless you have something to say and are willing to work hard and have something to show for it (or, simply put, unless you have something of ACTUAL quality) then you’re not REALLY going to get anywhere.
Though, on a positive note, it is worth pointing out that if you are working hard and willing to keep working hard and push out quality, then guess what? There’s a lot of folks in your field who ARE under the impression they can just do a minimal amount of work and then they’ll ‘go viral’ – and have that cash truck show up at their house, with a bunch of unicorns and mermaids and cupcakes, and they’ll all rejoice about how easy it is to strike it rich with all that internet-gold!
But they’re going to burn out, and burn out QUICK, because, sooner or later, they’ll realize that it just isn’t happening for them fast enough. Then, those with real ambition, like YOU, invariably get to the top a lot quicker. It’s basic math.
Timothy Ferris says there is not much competition at the top. I believe it. So, think big. But also, try to remember that most people will give up before they even get halfway up that damn mountain, once they understand how big the mountain is. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Most people, in my opinion, are extremely lazy. If you can motivate yourself to get past the point of someone else’s laziness, you’re on your way to becoming a lot more successful.