The Making Of Viral Music

Quick confession – this piece was written with Korede Bello’s #Godwin blasting in the background. LOL! Music is addictive, especially when you don’t discriminate against any genre.  That said, this piece is not just about music, it is about how the love affair between music and digital is birthing a whole new world of excitement and opportunities.

Now that you have an idea about where this piece is coming from, let’s dig in straight away.

Of course it is no more news that the rise of digital technology has changed every industry. Think about it for a second and you will realize just how true this is. Checkout the entertainment industry, especially the music sector and you would realize just how fast it has evolved since digital became ubiquitous. Everything has changed and is still changing – from the music label’s business models to how music is consumed by fans. Just in case you are in doubt, you only need to remember that Justin Bieber became a YouTube sensation before he became the hot shot that he is today. From internet sensation to international super star. WAOW!

Okay let’s focus. The concern here is not Justin Bieber. The concern is about how some songs go viral and some songs don’t. Haven’t you ever wondered? Pause and think about it for a second. How many hit songs go viral? Viral here doesn’t mean the mere popularity and acceptance of a song, rather, it means the total experience of the audience, more or less hijacking a musical piece and owning it in such a manner that it attains a new life of its own. To put this in perspective, Kukere by Iyanya was a hit monster track, but Surulere by Mavins was a viral beast. Another example, Gobe by Davido was a super hit track but Dorobucci by Mavins was a super viral hit.

Before you begin to wonder if this is a Mavin promotional piece, be sure to know that it is not. However, it would appear that some people have realized the importance of (and mastered) the art of going beyond making hit music, to making viral music. Here in Nigeria, Don Jazzy and the Mavin are the most consistent case-studies available. Oh well, I stand corrected.

To define the concept of viral music, “they infect us so much that we don’t only want to share them with our friends; we also want to customize and use them as tools to tell our stories before passing them on to others”. Think Oliver Twist and the exciting viral dance competition that revolved around it or Surulere and the viral “before and after” picture contest that revolved around it or even Olamide’s ‘gunman’ pose and the viral trend of gunman pose that spun out of it. This is about taking music to the level where your audience can enjoy it, own it, customize it and share it. But you must lead the way and this is how.


Tips For Making Viral Music

Whether you are an artist or a producer or a record label, these tips will work for you:

(1)    Know your audience: To achieve success selling your product, you must know what your people want and give it to them. Sometimes the audience can’t articulate what they want, so your ability to study them discover and leverage their desire and aspirations to make your music, is gold.

(2)    Understand Trends: What’s the latest? What’s happening in town now? Things are evolving at a pace never seen before.  Get on the trend wagon and if you can go a step forward to either create new trends or predict one with your music, then you are closer to making a viral song than you know.

(3)    It starts from the writing: A viral song is not just about using social media to promote your song and making it trend on twitter. Nah bruh! A viral song starts from when you start stringing the lyrics together. What’s the keyword in the song? How often do you repeat it for memorability sakes? Are you creating a new slang or leveraging an existing one? How simple are the lyrics and melody? These are some of the elements to be considered.

(4)    Strike an emotional chord: If your music is not making me cry, laugh, mad or feeling some emotional high, then why are you even in the game?

(5)    Tell a clear simple story: This is key. Your verses must tell a story that your hook can sit on. Don’t just sing; tell a story with your music.

(6)    Make a sick beat: Do I even need to talk this?

(7)    Go beyond music: Now when all the above is done, then it’s time to go beyond music to develop engagement ideas around the song. This goes beyond PR and Twitter questions. This is the #Surulere picture idea epicness. What ideas can you come up with here that will go beyond the song to connect with your audience with such profoundness that your song becomes evergreen in their hearts and minds? This is why (5) above is critical.

(8)    Crowd source: Whatever the idea you come up with, ensure it has a crowdsourcing twist to it…and maybe a juicy reward as incentive.

(9)    Consult a digital expert: Who will help you better understand your online audience and digital trends? Who will help you search out keywords and trending conversations among your online audience? Digital experts are penetrating every industry at all levels fast. So embracing us early enough might be the difference between a hit track and a viral track.

Welcome to the era of viral music! Now its your turn to tell me what you think about the idea of viral music. Waiting to hear from you in the comment section.

Cheers!