Hey, everybody! What day is it? Right, this one. And while you love the day and hate the song, you have to hand it to Rebecca Black (or ARK Music–the low-rent Disney Channel-style music factory Black’s mom paid $2000 to have “Friday” exist) for becoming one of pop culture’s most enduring accidental success stories. But let’s get down to brass tacks: Rebecca Black, during her short time in the public eye, has proven something that would stun all of us: She’s an ace at seizing monetization and branding opportunities–and in many ways, better than most of us are.
1. She didn’t need a ton of investment capital.
2. And so, it was a low-risk investment.
3. She had no ambitions to disrupt the market.
4. “Friday” was a very simple product. It was a song about hanging out on a Friday night. That’s it.
5. The lyrics were bad, the production values were terrible–but it was so simple that it scaled well.
6. Her marketing budget was $0–apart from the initial investment.
7. Despite that, it went viral, then global.
8. And despite her sudden success, she stayed modest.
9. That won her admirers and people who covered her work. Followers are key to becoming an industry leader.
10. One such admirer was mega-music mogul Simon Cowell; it pays to have friends in high places.
11. She didn’t care that her’s was a product that was so poorly-conceived that it invoked the ire of a lot of people. In fact, it became one of the first videos to prominently earn the distinction of being the Most Disliked Video on YouTube; you literally can’t buy that kind of publicity.
12. And that not caring went a long way for Black: It ended up on Glee. Meaning: Licensing fees!
13. Then: A couple of major TV spots (like this). She had successfully made the jump across that great rift between online and offline content–meaning that her marketing strategy had been a multi-channel success.
14. Even as we approached saturation point with this particular meme, Black and her people pulled an eleventh hour hat trick. They spiked demand by restricting (and monetizing!) supply. “Friday” had become briefly locked behind a $2.99 price tag on YouTube.
15. Shortly thereafter, supply was cut-off: The demand They were even angrier when it disappeared from YouTube entirely.
16. Only to come back shinier than ever, in HD: “Friday” reappeared on VEVO…presumably buttressed with pre-scroll ads.
17. She’s great under pressure: She kept a cool head when she received those death threats.
18. For a 13 year-old, the ups and downs of “Friday” are probably disorienting. Still, she’s taken it with good humor. So good that she wasn’t afraid to show up as the poster girl for the day of week through a cameo on the new Katy Perry single.
19. But let’s look at the numbers: Between monetized YouTube viewings and iTunes sales, Black has so far made in excess of $1 million–that’s reported by Forbes, back in March of this year–so that number’s gone nowhere but up since.
Sure there’s a team around Black and this wasn’t all her doing, but in being the face and voice behind the tune that confused and infuriated the internet, she’s the one everyone will link to “Friday”‘s strange success story. Black upset the entire business model: She put a product out in the world for free, suffered legions of detractors, and still took it all the way to the bank. Should she ever wake up one Monday morning and decide to run the music biz, she’s already got the success story to back up her experience.