By far and away one of the biggest YouTube success stories this year is Gotye's "Somebody That I Used to Know," which received a huge boost from Walk off the Earth's five-player, single-guitar version from January and suddenly became something infinitely imitable. Not only are there parodies of the Walk Off the Earth version, but numerous takes on Gotye's colorful, "naked" video, as well as people just putting their own spin with their own instruments. Gotye decided to create a video out of all of those parodies and imitations, and of course, the thing has already gone super-viral.
Gotye's Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra
Give this a look:
If you're familiar with artists like Mystery Guitar Man, this is the type of thing he does, working video in a interesting way to create a rhythm and flow of a familiar song. It's amazing how many different versions of this song make it into the nearly 6-minute video.
This is a nice, "Thank you" to the people who made the Gotye song such a huge hit. It would be easy after such success to ignore or get upset by all the different versions, but Gotye embraced it, as he realized that without YouTube, the song may have had a short life as a relative unknown. If you look at the stats for Gotye's video, you notice an almost total flatline from the moment the video was introduced on July 5, 2011 to January of 2012, which just so happened to be when the Walk Off the Earth version hit. Walk Off the Earth, with their unique must-see video, elevated Gotye's own song into a viral hit all its own, one that has actually nearly amassed 300 million views now. The two videos combined are over 400 million.
What can we learn from this? Well, it goes to show the power of imitation when it comes to YouTube videos. Gotye hit the lottery, here, so it's not so much that you can go out and do what he did, but it does go to show that great content, seen by the right people, can take on a whole new life all its own. It's why showing it to as many people as possible, and not relying on someone to stumble on it, is such a crucial aspect of getting a video seen. If it's particularly good content, it's not only watched, but imitated, and those imitations serve to power even more views. We saw the same thing with this year's other super-huge meme, "S*** [People] Say," which was imitated ad nauseum after the original, "S*** Girls Say" became such a tremendous hit.
Gotye's example is a rare one, but we can still learn lessons from the way it became such a sensation.