“One-Hit Wonder” Viral Videos Earn Cash: David at Dentist, Numa Kid, Charlie Bit Finger

So you got lucky and had a video go “viral.” Now what do you do?

YouTube is now giving “one-hit wonders” a chance to become a YouTube Partner, where they’re eligible to earn a percent of advertising revenue from their videos. This may, of course, be frustrating to those who have applied for the Partnership program, but have been refused — most likely because some of their videos contain copyright infringements, but sometimes perhaps because their videos aren’t garnering enough views to make it worthwhile for YouTube or the Partner.

But it makes sense, as the “David After Dentist” story illustrates. And remember that this is not new. Revver helped EeepyBird fetch more than $35,000 from the Diet Coke & Mentos video in 2006.

David After Dentist

About 2 weeks after “David After Dentist” went viral (now at 28 million views), I received a nice note seeking advice from David’s dad (Booba1234). “We are still trying to process all this,” he said. “I am not looking to exploit David in anyway. However, we don’t want to miss an opportunity IF there is one.”

He even offered to pay me for help, and I told him he was silly. I referred him to the YouTube Partner peeps, encouraged him to monetize it (hey, college savings), but I wasn’t sure he’d get approved. My e-mail note said: “If your video had been monetized (already), you would have made a few hundred bucks (at that point). The trick is that joining the YouTube Partner program takes some time, and sometimes requires more videos…”

I was thrilled to see Booba1234 was put on a “fast track” and is now a YouTube Partner… but I can’t take credit.

In retrospect, I realize how easy it must have been for YouTube to say yes. At nearly 30 million views, “David at the Dentist” video has probably been viewed more times than the entire history of many existing YouTube Partner channels. It’s not “charity” to help one-hit wonders monetize. YouTube also profited from the viral sensations as soon as it was able to include the video in partner content (where it fetches exponentially more dollars per view than the mass of other content on its site).

The lesson? If you hit the “viral lottery” with a video, apply for a YouTube Partner account as quickly as possible. While YouTube historically accepted only established video creators who were “most subscribed” or posted videos fairly frequently, the company is eager to monetize the “long tail” of video content… and frankly some of these “viral one-hit wonders” qualify as part of the “short tail.” BUT don’t waste a lot of effort creating more content unless you enjoy it, or you have more video that will interest the same audience who devoured your one-hit wonder.

While it’s nice for these viralizers to have residual income from one video, few “one-hit wonders” have succeeded in evolving that into a broader platform. For example,  David’s dad has only about 15K subscribers, and has posted just a few videos since “David at the Dentist” went viral 7 months ago (January 2009). He is trying to monetize his classic moment in other ways: offering the video for sale (via download) for $1.99, and a link to a t-shirt website (http://www.davidafterdentist.com), which is currently dead.

Numa Numa kid

Similarly, the famed Gary Brolsma aka “Numa Numa kid” will enjoy continued revenue from his one-hit wonder (assuming they find his original and not the myriad of ripoffs). And his “return” video fetched a nice 13 million views. But his new channel (NewNuma) has under 35,000 subscribers and is basically distributing unrelated content by other creators, presumably who pay him for a cost-efficient way to access his residual audience.

And look at Cynthia Holmes’ Otters Holding Hands, which has partner ads but sits in a channel with fewer than 500 subscribers. She’s posted more videos of her kids, but they’re not getting noteworthy views.

Then there are some one-hit wonders like “Evolution of Dance” (YouTube’s most-viewed video) that infringes on copyrights and can’t likely be monetized. And dancer Jason Laipply has done precious little to extend his platform since (unless you count a sponsorship for Stopain under the guise of being an  arthritis foundation video, which was viewed under 50,000 times.

Charlie BIT MY FINGER T-SHIRT

An exception? The parents of “Charlie Bit My Finger” have an account, HDCYT, with 57,000 subscribers, and have continued to post well-viewed videos ranging from cute new ones to television recaps about Charlie. He’s also selling t-shirts. Perhaps there’s something enchanting about watching these kids grow up… a sharp contrast from the awkward return of Numa Numa or unrelated sequels to a cute otter moment.

Viral Video YouTube Moshup in Weezer’s “Pork & Beans” Music Video

Weezer Pork and Beans Viral Video MontageSome time ago, we were watching Weezer write a song with his audience on YouTube. His blog even mentioned my little post, resulting in fan traffic that oddly didn’t assault me for making fun of his unibrow.

Well now Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” music video has paid even greater homage to YouTube, and has garnered more than 2 million views in the past few days (and probably well more by the time you read this). It showcases the band performing “Pork and Beans,” alongside Chris Crocker, Mentos’ EepyBird, and even on the face of Dramatic Gopher.

The lyrics are below, and the song contains a rather interesting message about being yourself instead of worrying about what others think. I can only hope the line “Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts” is sarcasm, and that Weezer is being slightly ironic by moshing itself with viral-video cliches, while singing such lyrics as “I don’t give a hoot what you think” and “I’m finally dandy with the me inside.” I’m sure any of the viral “weblebrities” that participated in the May production of this music video can attest to the soul-sucking emptiness of the 14 minutes of viral fame.

Parenthetically, you mighta heard about Weezer’s YouTube channel here on WVFF, but even the smaller, less progressive blogs are finally catching on. It’s even getting mentioned by little bitty bloggers like ValleyWag (which once named me one of the hottest guys of the Internet). But let me tell you, “I don’t give a hoot what they think” because I’m “tickled pink” when I look in the mirror (unless it’s a full length one).

Here’s Valleyway’s nice rundown of all of the viral sensatinos that “Pork and Beans” showcases, from “Numa Numa Kid” to “Charlie the Unicorn.” From “Leave Britney Alone” to “Peanut Butter Jelly Time.” And here’s Weezer.com’s announcement of it:

Shot May 7-10 in North Hollywood, CA, this video features a cast of, well, many! And what a cast! An amazing group of well known ‘Youtube celebs’ was tracked down and flown in so they could do their thing(s) with the Weezer men. Its pretty much impossible to properly describe what went down, so just have a look!

If you can’t recognize more than 75% of these clips, friends, then go to your room and start surfing YouTube’s “most watched” videos immediately. Start with the Weezer references, so you can flex your viral muscle by explaining clips of “Pork and Beans” to your less virally inclined buds and family members on Memorial Day.

I’ve even included the lyrics below, in case you want to sing along like Zack Scott (who has been tracking this closely, as the biggest viral video junkie I know who also is clinically obsessed with Weezer).

A final word. Clever folks, those Weezers. Their hardcore fans will argue the band has never “jumped the shark,” but if they had… what an interesting way to sail behind the collective wind of of other motorcycles zooming like Fonzie over netted sharks (see Happy Days “jump the shark” video, thanks to Mary Quickbowlmana). But at the same time, serving up a meaninfull message about being happy inside instead of through the eyes of fickle fans.

Pork and Beans lyrics:
They say I need some Rogaine (paid promotion?) to put in my hair
Work it out at the gym to fit my underwear
Oakley makes the shades (paid promotion?) that transform a tool
You’d hate for the kids to think, that you lost your cool (self referential?)

I’mma do the things that I wanna do
I ain’t got a thing to prove to you
I’ll eat my candy with the pork and beans
Excuse my manners if I make a scene
I ain’t gonna wear the clothes that you like
I’m finally dandy with the me inside (good, guys- I am the soul behnid the unibrow)
One look in the mirror and I’m tickled pink
I don’t give a hoot about what you think

Everyone likes to dance to a happy song
(Hey, hey) With a catchy chorus and beat so they can sing along
(Hey, hey) Timbaland knows the way to reach the top of the charts
Maybe if I work with him I can perfect the art

I’mma do the things that I wanna do
I ain’t got a thing to prove to you
I’ll eat my candy with the pork and beans (which has more sugar than candy)
Excuse my manners if I make a scene
I ain’t gonna wear the clothes that you like
I’m finally dandy with the me inside
One look in the mirror and I’m tickled pink
I don’t give a hoot about what you think
No I don’t care I don’t care

I’mma do the things that I wanna do
I ain’t got a thing to prove to you
I’ll eat my candy with the pork and beans
Excuse my manners if I make a scene
I ain’t gonna wear the clothes that you like
I’m finally dandy with the me inside
One look in the mirror and I’m tickled pink
I don’t give a hoot about what you think
Totally different?

Media Stereotypes Online-Video Clichés

There’s no question that traditional media tends to characterize online video — and YouTube in particular — as a cute fad. Certainly the bulk of the stories are about the “one hit wonders,” Internet clichés, and sensational hits like Chris Crocker, Sneezing Pandas, laughing babies and Star Wars Kid.

When I saw some recent Comedy Central parodies, I actually got a little frustrated that comedy writers are captivated with the drama prairie dog, and misses the more interesting trends:

The boys on Southpark were right that the distribution channel is still far from a mature monetization model. But it’s getting more interesting and obviously an important trend and not a fad.

spoof of traditional media’s coverage of youtubeAs I was thinking about all this, I felt compelled to spoof my somewhat defensive reaction. So here’s me taking this argument to an absurd extreme. Attacking media for stereotypes, only to resort to groveling for an SNL deal with Lauren Michaels.