Meme Culture Versus The Music Industry

by Andy Groke in Annoucements May 03, 2017

A few years ago, there was a lot of hype surrounding the release of Drake’s single, “Hotline Bling”, and rightfully so. He released the song back in July of 2015. The purpose to this release was unclear. Would he finally be dropping his much anticipated full length album “Views”? As it turned out, he didn’t release a video for the single until October of that year, and the internet had a complete and utter breakdown. The memes came pouring in and “Hotline Bling” soared to No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100 charts.

It’s easy to notice that Drake knew exactly what he was doing with the music video. It was such a simple visual and pretty much everyone knew that if they hadn’t seen his “dad dancing,” they were missing out on the newest internet phenomenon. It was brilliant. The video itself allowed viewers to create their own content and share online, thus getting free promotion and a viral video that has over 1 billion views and a Saturday Night Live parody to drive his placement on the music charts even higher.

Fast forward 2 more years and memes still have the ability to take an almost forgotten electro song and blow it right back into the billboard charts. The song I am talking about is “Shooting Stars” by Bag Raiders. And if you don’t know the song (which you do), that is because it came out 10 years ago. The song debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Chart and 10 years later is charting at No. 13 thanks to a viral meme sensation. It started with a man jumping off a bridge and subsequently getting launched into space, floating around to the tune of Bag Raiders’ catchy dance instrumentals. Even Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance became a part of the joke as she flew through space in a dreamy looking hyper drive.

It is no doubt that the virality of the internet is going to continue to be a contributing factor in trends in music and it’s ability to influence music charts overnight, and marketing teams have caught on. Whether it’s Rae Sremmurd taking advantage of a mannequin challenge ad campaign, or Migos staying at the top of the Spotify charts with their “Raindrop Drop Top” memes, one thing is for sure. While it is unclear as to whether memes will be as influential as they currently can be in the future, their ability today to engage fans is significant and certainly something to to keep an I on in the days to come. So for now, they are here to stay.