In the digital era, online or social media platforms are the most used forms of communication, with the daily usage possibly exceeding 10 hours per day for many and musicians take full advantage of technology to distribute, preview and promote their music to expand their fan bases.
The days of relying solely on radio play and music video channels are slowly becoming a thing of the past. In 2018 the true measure of a song’s success and impact is achieving viral challenge status. To the few uninitiated, a viral challenge is essentially a task, dance challenge, or artistic interpretation of a song which takes on a life of its own, transcending national and cultural boundaries to become a global phenomenon.
Most of these are not created by the musicians. Fans shoot videos dancing to their favourite songs and if the video is ‘buzz-worthy’ it will catch the attention of the world.
In recent years popular, online viral challenges such as the Harlem Shake, Mannequin Challenge and the In My Feelings Challenge have generated massive online reactions which have catapulted downloads and streams for many artists including artists such as Drake and rap group Rae Sremmurd.
In Africa the Kupe challenge (which was inspired by a song named Kupe Dance) was made popular by four painfully handsome black men who captured the attention of ladies around the continent, numerous videos followed and the song caught on.
Closer to home, South African house music artist King Monada has turned into a festive season specialist. Last year he released the catchy Ska Bora Moreki which translates to “ do not bore or agitate your night-life sponsor.” In an effort to avoid being labelled as a one hit wonder Monada is at it again with the popular Malwedhe which has birthed the dust raising Malwedhe or Idibala Challenge.
Many other videos have been trending but Monada has landed himself yet another festive classic, recently performing overseas and recently his song reached the summit of the Metro FM Top 40, which is no mean feat, especially for a regional artist, playing music from Limpopo, nogal!
Is it a sustainable formula?
The biggest question mark would be the whether or not the online friendly songs have a shelf life. The songs could always be attached to a moment or a certain dance craze without standing out on their own. Once the phase passes it may become difficult for the song to remain relevant.
Many artists will continue to benefit from the viral challenges and online trends, but they will be tasked with repeating the same success in order to have a long lasting impact or to have longevity in the music business. But in the meantime, December 2018 has an official dance trend, so be careful where you pass out because this one comes with a health and safety warning.