Apr 7, 2011

What Does the Rebecca Black Case Tell us About the Relationship Between the Internet and the Music Industry?

Rebecca Black's YouTube video has had over eight million hits and the download version of the song hit number one on the week of release

Before the internet era, people needed to display talent in order to become famous and successful. Word of mouth spread news of a few talented singers and actors who went on to make it big and become legends. This is no longer the case, the internet can shoot anyone to stardom in a matter of days, but not necessarily because they display talent. Rebecca Black is a name on everyone’s lips at the moment, but not for the right reasons. The thirteen year-old American recently released what is almost universally agreed to be the worst song ever.

Despite this, her cringe-worthily bad ditty – Friday, receiving vitriolic criticism from all over the globe, her YouTube video has had over eight million hits and the download version of the song hit number one on the week of release. We all know that the internet and music have never happily gone hand in hand but does this phenomenon fly in the face of all the criticism that has been launched at the internet for making artists lives tough?

The fact remains that file transfer programmes are damaging to industry but the Rebecca Black case does go some way to proving that a renegotiation is happening between producers, vendors and consumers of music. We all seem to be in agreement that Friday is a god awful song, if this is the case then would it have received so much recognition without the internet? Record label bosses would dismiss it in a second.

You allowed Black to become a hit with little talent. The success of the song however was a result of social networks like Twitter popularising the video. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops however, the song attracted a hive of attention, but hardly any of it was good. Black was in fact receiving death threats by the time her song had gone viral.

This demonstrates the power of social networking, it made Black a star and proved that the music industry and music can indeed co-exist harmoniously. It also highlighted a darker side to the internet however, which allows a convenient conduit for people expressing their views all too freely. The net is often celebrated for giving a voice to millions and reversing the traditional top-down model of broadcast journalism, but is this such a good thing when a thirteen year old girl can be subject to such a hate campaign?

The marriage of the internet and music industry has not always been a happy one, and the Black case surely showcases both extremes of social networking, both positive and negative.

Joe is a keen culture blogger who currently works for a company offering van contract hire.

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