Love, fear, happiness, and fame. The intangibility of emotion begs the individual to constantly hunger for more than a taste. The king of the classroom, the big man on campus, or even the city hero; enough is never enough. Truthfully, the appetite for success is both boundless and insatiable. Some climb the ladder, some buy it. Others work fruitlessly, and some, often the most deserving, never glimpse the limelight. We want the world. We want to sell, to be sold, to “make it.”
But what’s the formula? We’ve always preached that hard work pays off, but is that really the case? There are so many “hardworkers” these days. No, there’s more than a few variables including that extra bit of luck, cuthroat, and knowing the right people. It’s often said that the best DJ in the world is spinning in some underground club in the middle of nowhere. The world is waiting for his music, but they will never hear it.
This past summer, I was working in New York City and spending my nights exploring the musical architecture of the electronic mecca. On this particular evening, my ears were invited to a Broadway loft for something different. Hardly packed, the small crowd got down and the floors shook with the pressure of all that lean. Still, there was something different about the usual comeup city DJs and I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t spot the man’s smile from a block away. Full of cheesy grooves, snapback tilts, and a fresh attitude, Baauer and I spent the night trapped in a hipster’s paradise. Think the kid had it coming? Whether “Harlem Shake” or harlem shook, the mostly unknown snares & hats did little to inspire any masked debauchery. Turns out, a lot can happen in 6 months.
It is. But what’s even more “nuts” is the fact that this unusual success story is about to be joined by many more. As of Wednesday, both rating authorities Billboard and Nielson have announced that they are adding Youtube streaming data to their ranking systems, “enhancing a formula that includes Nielsen’s digital download track sales and physical singles sales; as well as terrestrial radio airplay, on-demand audio streaming, and online radio streaming, also tracked by Nielsen” (via Billboard.com). In recent years, the Hot 100 (and most traditional music rankings) has lost most, if not all, relevancy to an online music culture built niche by niche. Now, all official videos (so yes, you still need some semblance of label support) are included in a ranking that can literally make a budding career flower overnight. Baauer was the first artist to ever climb from that 200 person New York loft to, officially, the number one artist in America. After five decades, the formula has been changed. It’s your world. Take it.