Time was, that Weird Al was a thing I recalled from Madonna’s virginal days (yes, that long ago). But more recently he seems to be wherever I look. How and when did that happen?
Today I read an interesting piece in The Atlantic — “The Surprisingly Savvy Weird Al Internet Machine” — which offered some some answers. How Weird Al is managing to rise above the incredibly noisy world of video-tainment.
Here are some of the ways:
- By moving his product with the times — his original songs had no videos — all the current ones are all about the video — and very well produced they are too
- By knowing how to talk to audiences — for example, by sitting on The Reddit Ask Me couch — where Obama famously sat in 2012
- By understanding that the YouTube generation’s insatiable desired for parody, funny videos is mostly being met by amateurs now, producing their work in very short order. Al competes with his way more slickly produced videos by riding buzz waves. As he did with the buzz wave wrought, The Atlantic says, when Gaga apparently declined permission for “Perform this Way.” Except she hadn’t. The result was viral gold.
- By learning from experts like Beyoncé and producing a new video a day, and delivering them to a variety of audiences — YouTube, CollegeHumor, FunnyOrDie, Yahoo, Nerdist, and others. In this way, he fires up different niches of audiences, some that overlap. Some that don’t. The article calls this “atomizing.” That’s a term I like.
Old media might be figuring out in fits and starts how best to distribute itself, but the Internet’s ability to atomize is not to be underestimated.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Well, a clever old dog that is.