It seems like everything becomes popular so fast these days. Let’s be fair, though. Perhaps not everything becomes popular just because it exists, but the potential of pop culture has certainly changed a lot. A new song or movie can sweep the nation in a matter of weeks. You might be wondering why this is the case and what has changed in our society that causes things to become famous so quickly. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and discuss how technology and the Internet have played a role in making things go viral more quickly than ever before.
It used to take months or even years for a new song or movie to become popular and internationally known back in the day. It would take time for people to discover it, and then word would spread slowly through word of mouth. However, these days we have the Internet, with social media, which allow news and information to travel much faster. In addition, we now have streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, Xbox Game Pass, and countless others, which make it easy for people to access new content right away.
This used to take longer a while ago
In earlier decades, the career of a musician might have started and later ended before many even knew about them all over the world. Due to the slower dissemination of information at that time, it would take much longer for something to become popular. For example, a musician might release an album, and only a few people would buy it or hear it. Then, if those people liked it and told their friends about it, maybe a few more would start listening to the album. But it would take a long time for that album to become popular on a global scale.
Nowadays, things are different. With social media, an artist can release an album and instantly have millions of people listening to it. And if those people like it, they can share it with their friends on social media, and then even more people will start listening to it. As far as production goes, an artist can also collaborate with other artists all around the world, and by that, both can potentially increase their reach and build up a fanbase beyond their borders. Thus, things become popular much more quickly these days than they used to.
In the past, it used to take a long time for movies to be translated and dubbed into other languages. This was because it was a time-consuming process that required a lot of manpower. In addition, studios were reluctant to spend money on translations and dubbing unless they were sure that the movie would be a hit.
Tech augments and accelerates culture
Nowadays, things are different. With the help of technology, movies can be translated and dubbed much more quickly. This is because there are now software programs that can support the process, and it’s easier to source language and culture experts to support a project, even if some people of the project might be part of a remote team in a virtual office. In addition, studios are more willing to invest in translations and dubbing because they know that they can make a lot of money by releasing their movies in multiple languages.
Why do I know music from Japan, Korea, China, and all sorts of places even though it’s not performed in my first language? I was not able to find out about any such before I was able to access the Internet. Mere access was the enabler, perhaps, but social networks certainly accelerate this sort of visibility. We meet people that we trust for certain things, and they might not be from our physical social circles, they might be from entirely different regions around the globe, but we trust them because they have proven to match our tastes and preferences.
Why not look at some examples here? The artist PSY became an Internet phenomenon with the release of the song called Gangnam Style. Outside of Korea, his popularity before this release was close to inexistent, and that’s just normal for an artist performing primarily in a language that isn’t English. By leveraging the power of YouTube with a catchy song and a dance performance that invited people to meme it, he managed to make this one of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time. Before social media, the Internet, and before music videos were a thing, a global penetration for a song like that had little to no chance, not because it’s not good, but because nobody could know about it.
When looking at access, it’s also interesting to note that the evolution of consumption models has critically changed how we discover new things that we might enjoy or not. We pay for a subscription to have access to a large pool of movies, music, games, and other things. Trying out a new band is a whole different deal when we have to actually pay for their album. If it’s all part of a service that we pay for anyway, trying something out is entirely without the need to pay for something in particular. So there is no risk except that we waste our time with something we don’t like.
The Internet has made it easier for people to connect with each other and share information. In addition, social media has made it possible for people to share content with a wider audience than ever before. These factors have contributed to the phenomenon of things becoming popular much more quickly than they used to. Advancements in technology accelerate and support commercial and creative production processes. Beyond that, the Internet and everything it includes accelerates the spread rate, virality, or virtual word of mouth, if you want to call it that.
All of these factors have contributed to the quick spread of popularity of new songs, movies, games, books, and other forms of entertainment and education. It’s easier than ever before for something to become popular, and it happens much faster than it used to. So if you’re wondering why that new song or movie is suddenly everywhere, now you know. Thanks to the power of technology and the Internet, things can become popular very quickly these days, for better or worse.
YouTube: Why videos go viral | Kevin Allocca (TED)
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Drazen Zigic.