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Beyond the Harlem Shake: Do viral dance videos augur new era of participation?


February 19, 2013

As evidenced by Internet dance crazes like “The Harlem Shake” and “Gangnam Style,” people want to participate in the media, venture capitalist Mark Suster writes for TechCrunch.

He predicts television will also enter a new era of “participation” which, while bringing far lower revenues than traditional TV, will let people who are naturally creative but geographically and socially disenfranchised make money doing what they love.

“The Harlem Shake” reportedly started as a YouTube skit from someone calling himself “Filthy Frank,” garnering 10 million views by the end of January. Maker Studios then created its own video of the viral dance sensation, this time set in an office environment, which racked up an additional 15 million views.

The video reportedly took two minutes to shoot and was uploaded to the Internet half an hour later. Nearly 50,000 other versions have since been created and uploaded, together watched by some 200 million people.

Gangnam Style,” a song and dance from the South Korean rapper Psy, has attracted 1.3 billion views around the world, Suster reports. In this new era of participation, costs of production and distribution are nearly zero, and content can be easily shared and amplified through social media. Suster sees opportunities for talented people outside of Hollywood to create niche content on any topic. — Greg Beaubien



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