Viral YouTube Videos and Their Impact On Song Sales

Article by Emma Saletta

Two weeks ago, “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins was just another song from the 1980’s that people heard on the radio from time to time. This week, it’s a song that was one of the highest bought songs of the week. This is likely due to viral YouTube video posted by Tim and Fred Williams, which consists of them listening to and reacting to that song. Although this song sale boost might be a shock to some, it should come as no surprise to people who keep up with viral videos. It’s very common to have songs suddenly increase in sales either because of televised performances or the deaths of singers or possible band members. However, one may not realize that the same thing can happen because of a YouTube video.

Ten years ago, a boy named Greyson Chance uploaded a YouTube video of himself singing Lady Gaga’s smash hit “Paparazzi”. Not long after the video release, the two-year-old song climbed the charts and rose in song sales. As of now, the viral video currently has over 67 million views. One of the biggest examples of this, however, would have to come from the song “Harlem Shake”. In 2013, numerous viral videos began to be released of people doing what is known now as “The Harlem Shake”. From the viral video growth, it began to show on television shows such as Saturday Night Live. These videos and more are the reason why it peaked number one on various music charts in countries such as Brazil and the United States, while finishing the year at the number one spot on Billboard’s US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs. Even though the song was topping 2013 charts, the song was actually released in 2012.

These two songs are only part of the growing habit of viral videos influencing song sales. Songs that are part of this have included sale pushes for good, bad, and funny reasons. Because of the growth of the popularity of technology, it’s highly unlikely that it will go down anytime soon. Below is the latest viral video of Tim and Fred Williams, as well as a list of some other previously released popular songs that increased in streaming or song sales due to viral videos (because “Friday” by Rebecca Black was first released as a music video, this song will not be included on this list.)

“In the Air Tonight” Phil Collins

“Paparazzi”: Lady Gaga

“Harlem Shake”: Baauer

“Gone”: Kanye West

“Forever”: Chris Brown

“Super Bass”: Nicki Minaj

“Best Song Ever”: One Direction

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