To make a music video that goes viral on YouTube, gets tons of hits and makes you an Internet sensation overnight, you need to have four basic things.
- an incredible song
- incredible video or images
- recording equipment and video software
- influential friends to get it going
What you don't need is a lot of money. Here's how to get started.
What Kind of Song Can Go Viral?
There are three types of songs you can write that will have the best chance of making it big. The first type is simply an excellent song with an emotional hit. When I say emotional hit, I don't mean you should sock your neighbor with love, I mean a song that causes an emotional reaction inside of you. It's achieved by an effective marriage of music and lyrics. It's a song that's about something you and a lot of people care about very deeply. The more people that care about what your song talks about, the more popular it will be. When you sing about love in a way makes people say, "oh, that's exactly me," then you've got something worth putting out there.
The second type of song is a "bizarro" hit. This is a song that is either rip-roaring funny, or so strange as to be unbelievable, until seen. When someone writes, "you won't believe this song," that is very good. Again, don't publish anything that could earn you an interview at the police station. If you have a song proving that aliens live among us, however, that might just work.
The third type of song is one that piggybacks on something that is hot. When something big happens in the world, like Egypt having a revolution or Jay Leno going into the undertaking business, write a song about it and get it online within 24 hours. People search for current events, especially on YouTube. A properly tagged song that is well presented will gain instant hits.
What Kind of Video Goes Viral?
Create curiosity. Deliver surprises. Keep creating curiosity and delivering more surprises. That is the recipe for success. Unless you are a supermodel singer whom people will watch even if you sound somewhat like a broken vacuum cleaner, people have little patience for videos that are boring. You need to promise that they will see something amazing in the next 30 seconds, and then you need to deliver.
Your video doesn't need to be professionally staged and directed. It does need to be planned out, and recorded at decent quality. You can use still images just as well, and that may even be easier. Just keep them flowing in a way to make the viewer really want to see what's next.
Then, when you deliver, do it in one of two ways. Either give them exactly what they expect and want to see, or give them something different, but better. If it is a surprise, and a pleasant one, that will give them all the more reason to keep watching. Pay attention to the image that will be the thumbnail for the video. Make that image one that causes the viewer to exclaim, "#%$&*%!!!."
What Stuff Do I Need to Make This Music Video?
You need hardware and software. The hardware is a good quality microphone and the audio interface to connect it to your computer. You can get any USB microphone for less than a hundred bucks and that will be fine. You will also need a good video camera, stills camera, or video or image library to get your material. If you use a video camera, you'll need to attach it to the computer via FireWire, or some adapter depending on whether to recording on mini DVD or memory card.
In terms of software, you probably have the video editing software you need bundled with your computer. iMovie on the Mac, and Windows Movie Maker on the PC are both adequate. If you bought a video camera, odds are it came bundled with Power Director or Nero or something like it. It's all good. For music editing, there is a great freeware program called Audacity. For more complex music creation, including MIDI sequencing, look for Cubase, Sonar, and similar integrated audio programs.
When It's Recorded, How Do I Make It Go Viral?
Using global mind control, have 85 million people log in to watch your video on YouTube, simultaneously. Then, have them all send you checks for $10,000 each.
Seriously, there are no guarantees, but there are some things you can definitely do to give your song every chance it deserves. Viral videos happen in two phases: the expanding circle, and the even spread. You may be wondering what physics and peanut butter have to do with this. I shall explain.
You are at the center of your circle. Around you are family and friends, your community and any other associations you are a member of. Those people, in turn, have their circles of friends, family and so forth. It is a continuing, interconnected world of circles. You start by having your friends and family watch the song, and send it to their circles. If you have created it correctly, each circle will forward the song to the next circle, until everyone on Earth, on The International Space Station and on anything else where life exists, will have heard it.
In other words, once you have pushed it through your circles, there will evolve an even spread of interest. People who have no connection to you will find the song on YouTube, Google, and wherever else. Because your song had initial popularity through your circles, it will rank high in search engines. But there's one more thing that is essential for this to happen. And that is...
How Do You Present It to Your Friends?
Again, curiosity is your best ally. If your song is the most incredible thing ever, all you need to do is send a message saying, "hey, here's this song I wrote." That may work, but why take a chance? Better to send a message that almost daresthe recipient to click the link and hear the song. "I got really drunk when I recorded this, it is so embarrassing, but I couldn't help myself and I had to post it." That'll get hits.
Another reason this is so important is because of the forward button. People don't always have time to write their own e-mail to market your song. As a matter of fact, most people find clicking more than once to be exhausting. So the message you write to your first circle may very well be the message they forward to their circles. Not only your song may go viral, but your email prose in presenting it may as well. Think about that! When someone writes a press release, they have in the back of their mind that they are actually writing the article that'll be in the paper. Same here.
And that's it! So to summarize, write one of the three killers songs, create video that keeps 'em watching, write a message that almost dares your audience to click, and put your video link out there to your circle of friends. A personal request: write a song that makes people happy. It's such a good thing to do, to make people happy. On behalf of the International Space Station, I thank you.