It started with a tweet. Granted, a tweet from very well-known influencer, Ashton Kutcher. On May 11 Kutcher tweets: “Watch the 1 girl in the back row that realizes she’s witnessing a future superstar in the making AMAZING->…”.
The “future superstar”, Ashton was referring to, is 12-year-old Greyson Michael Chance. Kutcher’s link directed his followers to the young talent’s incredible YouTube video covering Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.” Chance was of course not performing for thousands of screaming fans, but rather his 6th grade class. Their faces giggling, ooing and awing making one feel like they are watching a MTV Unplugged show of an already famous young singer. But Chance wasn’t famous, at least not then. He is from Edmond, Oklahoma and his performance was part of a district-wide talent show. He has only been playing the piano for three years and hasn’t had one voice lesson in his life.
Andy Warhol said it best, “Everyone wants that 15 minutes of fame.” Social media is making that 15 minutes more accessible. YouTube and other video player platforms have opened doors for performers, comedians, and artists. Every click represents a new follower, fan, or potential consumer.
Chance’s performance has racked up well over eleven million views. Even as I write, this number continues to grow. He has a fan-generated Facebook page with almost 26,000 Likes, mostly young girls. After just two days on YouTube, Chance was flown to LA to appear on the May 13 Ellen Degeneres show to perform, receive the Ellen seal of approval and speak to the real Lada Gaga via phone. If this kid doesn’t have a record deal by the end of the week, the planets are misaligned.
Now, there are a million YouTube singers out there, some better then others. Why is Chance different and how did he become an overnight sensation? Let’s look at his journey beginning just a few days ago.
1. He has talent.
2. He is, like so many others of his generation, online and social media conscious. Instead of just singing his songs in his house or performing live, he recorded them and uploaded to YouTube for a worldwide audience to view.
3. He chose a popular song, Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi”, which has high SEO.
4. He gained support from the real heavy weights in social media, influencers, such as Ashton Kutcher. Once Kutcher’s large following glimpsed the page it took only minutes for followers to update their status opening the floodgates to the Chance phenomena.
Chance has broken a major boundary by essentially bypassing the many obstacles young musicians typically face. Are we currently witnessing the trend for the future? Will entertainment agents closely scan YouTube (even more than now), to find the next big star? Will we as the content consuming public choose our next star outside the system of highly produced television shows calling the shots? I think we have seen firsthand the power of user-generated content in social media with the ripple effect one 4-minute video can create.