Uninhibited individuals post thousands of comments on Youtube every day. They express their current state of mind, their mood, their general reaction to a music video.
The Youtube comment section is a complex space that inclines us to create an opinion of an artist and the music that he produces. When scrolling through the comments on any music video I can read either moving, outrageous or entertaining comments that always spike my interest.
The Internet, that intricate space of interaction and public communication on privately owned platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Youtube has become a central part of all of our lives. Nowadays, artists are catering to a new public and a streaming generation is moulding music production. The Music Industry has changed. It has changed for the better and for the worse. This shift has occurred since the extreme growth of the Internet.
Anonymity and fictional identity’s are the new must when it comes to internet interaction. The only thing that I can think as I read some of these comments is that although they pull my attention towards them, we have no way of knowing who this person really is. What their real identity is remains almost a mystery. They are a username and a profile picture on a screen. Anyone can say anything and can have an impact on other individuals opinions and on the artists themselves.
Today musical popularity surges from internet popularity and artists are creating in order to please an internet based audience. What is trending now? What aesthetic is popular? What will people click on? What will not be ignored?
On Youtube anyone can access any song that has ever been made public. This is making it more difficult for artists to gain money from music sales as they have to cope with illegal downloading.
Artists are focusing on their aesthetic as the image has become our new obsession; sex sells, violence sells, luxury sells.
What does your music look like?
Now, the visual aspect of a music video and the physical appearance of an artist has turned paramount. Popularity is gained through the videos that can be seen publicly on the internet, as well as the image an artist embodies on social media. The content of a comment on a video is not the most important part of the comment section. A reaction from the publics part in itself is enough.
This never-ending quest to ensure that people don’t switch to another channel or video means that musicians have often strayed into the bizarre or controversial with their music – whether they did it deliberately or unintentionally.
Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball shocked most people expecting to see their sweet Hannah Montana singing a country song. Instead, a short haired Miley Cyrus swinging her naked body across a room, sitting on a wrecking ball appears on your computer screen. Although you may have hated it, you obviously spoke about it. You may have commented, liked or disliked it on Youtube.
This is how some music qualified as “terrible” by many is able to become one of the most popular videos on Youtube in a couple of hours.
Some videos can’t even be found on Youtube anymore as they were deemed too controversial or shocking. MIA’s video ‘Born Free’ directed by Romain Gavras in which we can see a visual representation of a genocide of redheads was removed from Youtube within a day of being posted. It was deemed too controversial by users. The online reaction to a video can at times have consequences. A mainstream audience is shocked by the violence that is portrayed in the music video. Are they not just ashamed of a reality that they may see in themselves or in their society? Violence is everywhere in contemporary media. I believe that many felt attacked by the truth in this video and chose to reject it.
MIA’s video was posted just a week after Erykah Badu’s ‘Window Seat’. In this music video she “dies”, naked, where JFK was assassinated. This low budget video created an outrage of incomprehension and fascination. Once again sex Sells.
Boiler room changing club culture
New media platforms aiming to use video in order to stream live music have emerged. Boiler room is a perfect example of this. Created in 2010, this website opens up club culture to an Internet based audience. As it was first launched, the possibility to comment on live streams of Dj sets occurred for the first time. You no longer had to attend a rave party in order to listen to live electronic music. This visual representation of DJ sets changed club culture. The DJ’s identity became central to the experience. Instead of being invisible, Dj’s became the main focus of clubbers. The audience now chooses to turn themselves facing a DJ. Boiler room was a part of this change. Instead of merely listening to music; we are commenting on what we see.
What would you comment on these videos?
“Memories of dancing with a hot Mexican girl at a club in Cancun 1993…”
“I was going back for a second tour in Vietnam when this song came out it brings back a lot of memoriesI love this song”
“Brings back memories of playing GTA Vice City Good days right there”
A youtube comment is not just words posted on the internet. It is a reaction to an image. The reaction to a product that hopefully will grab your attention.