Trendspotting: Video Games

Posted on April 9, 2012 by Angie Argabrite

Mere months after Lana Del Rey nonchalantly uploaded her self-made music video onto YouTube, her album reached No. 1 on iTunes in 11 countries. Even as she earns mixed reviews (one journalist writes that Del Rey “single-handedly killed the appeal of DIY”), the video for “Video Games,” with its moving collage of grainy YouTube clips and spare shots of Del Rey in all her vacant-eyed glory, has inspired 34 million views. Yet, still, she’s being held up as an example of both the viral video’s astonishing selling power and power to backfire (Rebecca Black, anyone?). Though the controversial Kony 2012 video has just been deemed the most viral video of all time (while inspiring its own kind of backlash), most of the others in the viral-video hall of fame are music-oriented. Which is no doubt why major music companies are prioritizing their partnerships with sites like YouTube and VEVO; Warner Music Group has just unveiled plans for a new YouTube channel that will feature original programming made specifically for YouTube—just one of 100 “premium channels” YouTube is spending more than $100 million to launch this year. And VEVO is in talks with Facebook to transfer its catalog of music videos once its deal with YouTube expires, a move that threatens to steal some of YouTube’s thunder. As of January, YouTube received 152 million unique viewers compared with VEVO’s 51.5 million unique viewers. And so, the music video—which some imagined would go extinct after MTV and VH1 all but phased it out—is perhaps more culturally significant than ever before.

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