I’ve been known to enjoy a Lady Gaga video or three. Sure, load something up with hooks, quirks and anything designed to make you stare, unable to look away — yeah, I’ll eat that stuff up.
So I’m not here to malign her or her talent; others seem to do that quite capably anyhow. I like her. But I do take issue with the recent declaration that she is the first artist to exceed one billion online video views, as put forth by Mashable at:http://mashable.com/2010/03/24/lady-gaga-billion/
My first thought upon reading that was, “Wow.” Then my second thought was, “Hey, wait a minute — wouldn’t Michael Jackson have neatly passed that mark a long time ago?” And I discovered that yes, indeedy, he has. Michael Jackson is undoubtedly the first artist to surpass one billion online video views.
I don’t have a time machine or online video analysis equipment to schuss out just when that might have happened, but I know it had to have been at least last year, if not even before that. His passing brought out all the fans, both current and reformed, and as of June they walloped the internet with their eyeballs. And, as I recall, he was pretty popular even before then.
Mashable cites the data gathering company “Visible Measures” as their go-to experts of choice. According to Mashable, they “curate” a list of 65 videos which have surpassed the 100 million views mark, three of which they’ve noticed include the warblings of Dame Gaga: “Poker Face” with 374,606,128; “Just Dance” with 272,941,674, and “Bad Romance” with 360,020,327, or a total of 1,007,568,129 views. Meanwhile, the site of their curation,http://www.visiblemeasures.com/hundred, lists only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on the list, with a mighty 443,535,722 views.
Anything seem wrong here, offhand?
Seems like Michael Jackson had a few other hit songs with videos, too… over 100 million views though? Hmm. Well, I suppose it’s possible that his fans JUST enjoyed that one song of his especially well, seemingly ignoring all the others….
Well, of course not. Here’s a little sidetrack: They list Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” as THE number one video, with a “True Reach” count of 722,438,268. Meanwhile, if you wander over to YouTube, you’ll see that this video tops out at 70,934,651 — barely 10% of Visible Measures’ tally. How is that possible?
Yes, of course there are many video sites out there. I’d assume that Visible Measures probably considers their data gathering to be proprietary and likely they won’t offer up their sourcing. However, according to a fairly recent Mashable article at http://mashable.com/2009/09/28/august-comscore-data/, YouTube holds about 40% of the market share for online video (a reference from just 2 years ago had it at 83% — did it drop, or just different people counting different things?). If you think on it loosely, where do you suppose the average citizen is going to go hunting for, say, a music video? ”Naw, surely there’s someplace OTHER than YouTube to find this!” One which comes to mind as being a possible giant in the internet video market would be MySpace video, where Gaga and Jackson both hold solid presences. I did a rough calculation and see that the total viewership of videos posted on those official pages favor Gaga — ALL videos summing up at just over 4 million views, and all Jackson videos at about 3.5 million (and “Thriller” isn’t even listed there).
Meanwhile, I’ve found 74 videos on YouTube containing performances by Michael Jackson that each exceed FIVE MILLION views. “Thriller” does indeed place at number one (of all MJ videos) on the site — with 74,935,649 views. (Take THAT, Soulja Boy!)
Even if you allow that there may be other video hosting sites which could feasibly make up the difference in views — in Soulja Boy’s case, 90% of the 722 million total — it just seems highly unlikely. GROSSLY unlikely.
Why would this matter to anyone? Well, I’m sure it matters in many different ways — in particular, right now it seems that this little piece of information about Lady Gaga’s triumph in online viewing has gone quite viral itself — CNN, Rolling Stone, Huffington Post, and countless newspapers and news sites all over have picked up the story (I assume, on Mashable’s lead, as they are often cited) as the God’s-honest TRUTH — likewise offering a nod to this Visible Measures company as the source.
Maybe Visible Measures is the master of this information. But how? This is the SAME source Mashable uses to tally up its “Top Ten Most Watched Web Series” each month — the same one that suddenly noticed “Happy Tree Friends” just last October and declared them number one that month with over 19 million “True Reach” views that month. In September, they didn’t even crack the top ten — they apparently couldn’t beat out Jake & Amir’s 2.9 million total. Wow, what marketing genius gave them that massive push in October?
I saw for myself about two years ago that Happy Tree Friends was one of the most viewed series on YouTube, and their channel, MondoMedia, is still up there as the #7 most viewed channel with over 588 million total views. And that’s not including the countless “fan videos” that also do so well on the site. If I were tracking video artists/series/trends, I’d say that those ought to count, too. Mainly, I’m saying that this data aggregation company seems to be clearly off the mark somewhere.
Add to this another little detail — in their listing of “Thriller” as the #4 most viewed video online — they offer a link to it as well. That link leads to a fan video, containing NOT that video, but the music paired up with photographs — with a mere pittance of views, just over 10,000. Couldn’t they at least take the care to link to the ACTUAL video?
The article mentions how popular she is on VEVO — but if you compare between VEVO and YouTube — you’ll see the views are mirrored. They are the SAME views. The official Gaga and Jackson pages on YouTube are simultaneously named “LadyGagaVEVO” and “MichaelJacksonVEVO” and all views on YouTube show up on VEVO as well. (Are these people then counting them twice?)
Another little thing — the author of the Mashable article about this milestone, Samuel Axon, is self-described as “Mashable’s Lady Gaga correspondent.” Agenda, maybe? Or at least guilty of just noticing that, within his Gaga-eyed purview, “Hey, those add up to over a billion — and no one else’s on this list DOES!”
So, music history is made of these. And who am I to disagree?
I’m putting a bit of homespun research here at the end, so it can be said that at least SOMEONE’S done their math. All sarcasm aside, I think it’s obvious to nearly everyone that YouTube is “THE” place for online videos, and what’s found there will likely tell the tale the best. As I’ve learned, it’s a little hard to go by just “official” videos, as there are so many concert performances, fan videos, mashups, TV appearances and what-have-you, that are largely driven by a particular artist’s popularity. Lots of wiggle room there, but I figure it’s hard to argue about wherein lies the thrust of what helped bring a video to 5 million views. As it turns out, all the videos that owe that thrust to Michael Jackson, on just YouTube alone — DO add up to well over a billion views!
Most of these were “all Michael,” and I went with ones relating to performance rather than “news videos” or anything where he’s just standing there, waving — or whatever. Perhaps some choices here could be quibbled with — if I found a wedding video where they’re dancing to MJ’s music that’s over 5 million — I counted it. I found a Spongebob video set to “Thriller” over 5 million — I counted that, too. To be fair, I gave the same leverage to Ms. Gaga. I found a transvestite fan version of her “Telephone” over 5 mill — so I counted that, too. Her list is much shorter, and the total accounting for these comes out to almost half a billion. Not bad, really! So, perhaps all the journalists reporting the numbers are “half right.” But they’re not right at all about who the “First Artist to Reach a Billion Views on the Internet” is.
I commented on the Mashable article, but no one seemed to notice nor care. I then wrote to them two days ago to ask them to please re-assess their data as it was clearly wrong — and clearly making its way around the world in so many places — and I’ve yet to hear anything back. Meanwhile, right now, the world thinks Lady Gaga is the historic first artist to reach this impressive milestone, thanks to this “Gaga Correspondent” and this (it would seem) highly questionable source. Now Gaga’s record company has something to crow about; this data company now enjoys a massively improved public presence (therefore translating to higher perceived value and stature to those who might consider paying for their services), a new crowning of pop royalty has been undeservedly bestowed, and most of all, Michael Jackson gets left in the cold, completely unmentioned. Yet, actual, provable numbers clearly identify him once again as the true “King of Pop.” It was earned; it happened —let’s give him credit for it.
My tally of Michael Jackson’s 74 YouTube videos exceeding 5 million views comes to 1,046, 633,807 as of today. This is sufficient to illustrate the landmark total. There are also quite a few in the four million range, even more in the three, two and one million range, which if also added, could well bring his total up over 2 billion! And who knows where you’d be if you included other people covering his songs, news videos, or anything else predominantly related to him? By rights, those should count too — but again, if a purist would dictate that it should be his music, performed by him, that counts the most — then here you have it.
Thank you for listening. Let’s get him his credit! For a start, I suggest demanding that Mashable.com review the matter and post a retraction or correction — and anyone else who reported this based on their article too, for that matter.