PMG Digital Made for Humans

The Art of Going Viral

5 MINUTE READ | May 30, 2018

The Art of Going Viral

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Katie Friedman

Katie Friedman has written this article. More details coming soon.

Becoming a meme or going viral is a once in a lifetime unintentional event. Unless you have thousands of hours of candid footage like the Kardashians or Beyonce, there’s really no way to get that lightning to strike more than once…right? In fact, it seems like some people know how to generate memes of themselves on command and the most prolific example is currently Drake.

Drake is unique because he is a master at manipulating himself to meme-ability. Think about it – some celebrities may have one or two memes totally organically (like Chrissy Teigen) while Drake has at least five just off the top of my head, and mostly based around album and music releases that are very much planned. He understands how the true purveyors of the internet (GenZ) get little snippets to catch fire. According to research, the GenZ audience “shapes our current culture” and are transforming entire industries before our eyes. 74% of them spend all of their free time online and 71% of them consume music solely through streaming platforms like Spotify.

Drake Monologue: Saturday Night Live

They also connect with content that is authentic and imperfect instead of polished. Drake is intentional about the content that he drops and how he thinks it could be used by GenZ. What is impressive is how he makes it seem authentic and organic despite the obvious planning that has to go into each release. He knows that whatever he drops, he will be part of the pop culture conversation that day.

Of course, all of these memes are helping to support his ultimate goal: music streams and downloads. When looking at his streaming numbers on Spotify, we can see patterns of memes taking off while helping his numbers. Most of his meme-able moments come around major single releases and become the most streamed songs. When his album “Views” dropped in 2016, Twitter went wild with the album cover art and parodied it everywhere.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @alftirado

Despite mediocre reviews by critics – the album spent 13 weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 and became the first album to reach 1 billion streams on Apple Music. “Hotline Bling,” one of the singles from the album, inspired a whole host of memes. One of the songs from that album, “One Dance” set the record for Spotify’s most-streamed song of all time until it was broken by “God’s Plan” in 2018 and then almost broken again by “Nice for What” after that. Drake’s only competition right now is old Drake!

Twitter / Via Twitter: @The_Lion_

The video game industry is booming. The shift to mobile and virtual reality gaming is far outstripping standard consoles you know like XBox or Playstation. According to Wikipedia, “eSports

Twitter / Via Twitter: @Drake

is centered around professional players in organized competitions and leagues for prize money … drawing hundreds of millions of viewers and … expected to break $1 billion [in revenue] by 2019.” Twitch, which was recently acquired by Amazon, is a live streaming platform – used mostly by gamers to stream themselves playing games. These gamers are considered new age influencers: they can make thousands of dollars off of the advertising on their channels.  Viewers can also subscribe to these gamers and donate additional cash if they feel so inclined. Ninja, the most popular gamer of Fortnite (the most popular game) brings in 66k active streamers at a time which equates to a revenue stream of nearly $500k/EACH MONTH.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @JMOxQ_

What does any of this have to do with Drake, you ask? Well, Drake (along with Ninja) currently holds the Twitch record for highest active streamers with 628k, nearly double the previous record. If those numbers aren’t impressive enough, consider the timing: the stream happened in the middle of the night! Drake and Ninja had been tweeting back and forth about setting this in motion so it wasn’t a totally random hookup – as Uproxx writes, “The previous record crashed the server, so clearly, some extra prep was done before this one went live.” Drake realized he could activate the gamer community for a pre-planned cultural moment but also knew the servers would need a heads up to handle the load.

Not only did the stream go viral, Drake’s animated character became a meme (of course!) that centered around his recently released song “God’s Plan.” But Twitch isn’t where Drake makes his money and, as it happens, “God’s Plan” is currently the most streamed song of all time on both Spotify AND Apple Music. Drake was one of the first celebrities to realize the power of Twitch, use it to his advantage to boost his own music while also showing other brands the cross-over potential of video game live streaming.

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Since “So Far Gone”, there hasn’t been a single Drake album that has failed to reach the No. 1 spot in both the US and Canada. He combines his musical artistry with a unique approach to marketing that isn’t typical within his industry. While other artists stick to the old “release-a-single-and-wait” business model, Drake takes a full funnel approach with his visibility all over pop culture and entertainingly meme-able music videos. He also knows that 69% of GenZ engages with content and can’t be reached by traditional ads or methods of communication. Drake, instead, reaches out in a way that makes sense for his audience and for his unique brand style and kills it almost every time.

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