OK Go is an American band that was formed in 1998. In the beginning of their career, OK Go was just like any other average band that had some attention but was lacking in successful fame. In 2005, OK Go created a music video for the song “A Million Ways” that was not intended for anything besides sharing it with friends. As more and more people began sharing the video, the band’s popularity grew.
OK Go created music videos on their own terms. With little to no budget, and the help of Damian’s sister (the lead singer), OK Go created the music video for “Here it Goes Again” for fun. They enjoy the creation of art, and their goal was to share a piece of creative art. Damian said in an op-ed for the New York Times, “We shot it at my sister’s house without telling EMI, our record company, and posted it on the fledgling YouTube without EMI’s permission. (Kulash). Ok Go recorded and posted their music video to YouTube without their record label knowing, because although the video does self-promote their band, monetizing off the video was not their first priority. This was not as much of a social media campaign, as it was a band that wanted to be unique with their music video, took a chance, and reaped in the rewards by using a new mode, (YouTube), to share their art.
When OK Go posted their music video for “Here it Goes again” on YouTube, it immediately received an incredibly good reception. YouTube was only a year old when the music video was posted, and the Internet community had seen nothing like it before. Gil Kaufman from MTV said in 2006, “In addition to leapfrogging into the YouTube all-time top 25 thanks to more than 4 million views since it was submitted on July 31, “Here It Goes Again” has won the group some pretty serious praise from Laurie Ann Gibson…” (Kaufman). Not only had the music video captivated the audience of people around the world, but OK Go also garnered attention from well-known people, like the famous choreographer Laurie Ann Gibson.
However, not everyone received the music video well. “When they showed the result to the head of digital marketing at Capitol Records, the response was: ‘If this gets out, you’re sunk’” (D,David). Although Ok Go’s music video was an incredible success, veterans of the business did not think this was a good move. In 2010, an issue came up with OK Go and their record label EMI. EMI made it so no one could embed OK Go’s music videos – one could only view it if they visited YouTube. EMI’s rationale was because YouTube gave them a royalty for views of OK Go’s music videos only if viewed from YouTube’s website. Damian Kulash responded with,
But this isn’t how the Internet works. Viral content doesn’t spread just from primary sources like YouTube or Flickr. Blogs, Web sites and video aggregators serve as cultural curators, daily collecting the items that will interest their audiences the most. By ignoring the power of these tastemakers, our record company is cutting off its nose to spite its face.
OK Go realized the power of social media when it first began to get popular. The amount of money the band and label company could obtain through free promotion via social media far surpasses the royalties the label gets from YouTube.
OK Go posted their music video for “Here it Goes Again” in 2006. The music video contains the band members of OK Go doing a dance routine on a set of eight treadmills. It is not only entertaining to watch, but the skill that it takes to shoot the video holds its own admiration with viewers. Paul Brown describes it perfectly when he says, “…the marvel of the video is in a relatively simple idea pulled off with entertaining aplomb and deftness. Put simply, it´s enormously watchable, great fun, and helped by a rather nifty song (yes, there´s a song too!)” (Brown). Twitter had just been established and was not yet the juggernaut that it is today. YouTube, while still only a year old, was the main catalyst to the success of the “Here it Goes Again” music video. From 2006 to 2010, the music video has been viewed over 52 million times before the video was taken down (Walker). By today’s standards, this does not seem like much, but before the Katy Perry’s and Taylor Swifts of YouTube, 52 million views is huge. One reason for the videos success was the format of the music video. OK Go shot the music video in one shot with no cuts. The video’s viral success led to more than just fifteen minutes of fame for OK Go. In 2006, “Here it Goes Again” won Most Creative from YouTube and in 2007 won the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video (Khaw). Due to a disagreement with their record company EMI, the music video for “Here it Goes Again” was removed. It has since been reposted to YouTube in 2009. Below are some examples of what people are saying about the video approximately 10 years since its release.
OK Go has obtained immense success stemming from the popularity of their music video. Including “Here it Goes Again,” 11 additional OK Go music videos have garnered 240 million views on YouTube. The views alone are a huge achievement, and the attention also leads to more profit via tour ticket sales, merchandise, and album sales. While making money on the music side of business, OK Go has also found a way to monetize their music videos. Tim walker writes, “Now the band have begun to turn their viral formula into genuine profit, by procuring sponsorship for their video schemes from the likes of Land Rover, Samsung and now Chevrolet, which gave OK Go $500,000-plus for the promo” (Walker). This example shows how OK Go’s creativity with music videos has now reached such a trustworthy reputation that big business are willing capitalize on videos that OK Go gets free creative reign with. Damian Kalush mentions in his New York Times article “we see them as creative works and not as our record company’s marketing tool” (Kalush). It is important to the band to stay true to themselves, and produce music and videos that are artistic and entertaining.
Another example that creative freedom is more important than money is when Tim Nordwind of OK Go mentions, “Luckily we’ve been able to carve out a career for ourselves that is basically just about us taking what are the most fun and creative opportunities available to us” (McIntyre). Ten years since their first music video went viral, they have stayed true to their word, and that is considered a major success for them. As stated by Tim Walker, “Their songs may not be for the ages, but as a business model, OK Go are as groundbreaking as it gets” (Walker). Below are more recent music videos OK Go has produced. The success of the “Here it Goes Again” allowed them to have the funding necessary to create these music videos.
Today, if you asked most people if they knew any OK Go songs, they would probably not be able to answer the question. And while their music videos are still popular, their views are marginal compared to the ultra-popular artists. However, OK Go’s music video made history at the beginning of the social media era. It is not exactly known how musicians after “Here it Goes Again” were inspired, or how the music video industry changed to meet the new demands. OK Go took a risk, and used a new type of medium to distribute a low budget music video. What resulted from this action was one of the first music videos to go viral on YouTube. OK Go’s career was accelerated, if not solely hinged on the success of their music video “Here it Goes Again.”
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