The bad news is the answer is yes. The good news is, well, not that much.
The video first entered the social fray in mid-February. Around the second weekend of March, Tosh.0, The Daily What and scores of Twitter users propelled it into notoriety.
More recently, in one of the worst misreportings since 75% of American news sources claimed Mubarak was the richest man in the world a few weeks back, Forbes Chris Barth asserted that Black was at least a millionaire, if not on the way to becoming one multiple times over.
PC Magazine and a score of a media outlets were quick to say, “Not so fast.” Barth himself even issued a mea culpa, claiming that in his hectic blogger life he had mistakenly sourced information from huge Bloomberg and Reuters competitor for economic news, Good Morning America who had confused YouTube views with iTunes downloads.
Let’s break down the two biggest revenue streams: iTunes downloads and YouTube views. Forbes’ Barth is claiming that since it is assumed YouTube makes $1 for every 1000 page views and content creators like Black and Ray William Johnson take approximately 68% of the profit, Friday should have raked in $20,000 around the 30 million view mark.
Unfortunately, he seems to confirm this figure with public disclosures from viral-video-making-rock-group OKGO’s lead singer Damien Kulash. Of course, Barth fails to take into account the fact that OKGO’s This Too Shall Pass, a video made famous for its promethean mechanical-dominos game received 128800 likes and a mere 1512 dislikes (which is really a limit approaching zero in an anonymized world filled with contrarian-haters like YouTube or virtually any message board out there).
On the other hand, Black’s Friday has received an awe-inspiring, record-breaking 969,304 dislikes over a 115,834 likes (probably composed strictly of the aforementioned contrarians and ‘it’s so bad it’s good’-people). Although I doubt that many YouTube viewers understand the Google company’s business model perfectly, I have enough faith in humanity to believe that most people know not to click on an ad from a video that they are watching out of a derisive, condescending wish to belittle a horrible song/singer/production company.
iTunes figures aren’t so hard to pin down though. PC Magazine reports that with “Friday” sales as of last Friday were roughly 37,000 and that Ark Music/Rebecca Black are taking in about 70 cents per download, or 35,000 dollars.
The two wildcards in the equation are the split made between the Black family and Ark Music and whatever she’s getting for media appearances. Although I’m not clear on whether Black won an audition or her family merely sought out Ark Music, Black’s mom shelled out $2000 to record this song and retain partial rights after being given that choice or that her daughter could record the song free with no rights. Although after the fact it seems like a good decision, I still believe her mom is to be belittled for it, as I don’t think people should be recognized for profiting off of, excuse the probability pun, Black Swan statistical outliers. Also, Black recently appeared on the Jay Leno show, which ought to have netted her something.
So the bottom line…about $63,000, most of which I assume will be going to Ark Music who retains rights over the song and produced the video (without which I doubt any of us would know this song). Luckily, although the singer of the worst song ever and a rather annoying personification of the idealized overprivileged California teen, Black knows how to keep her musical karma clean, and in return for exposing us all to, on all dimensions -production, lyrics, performance, etc – the most heinous song in history, she’s decided to donate the proceeds to relief in Japan.
I am happy to report that in the true American spirit of innovation, appropriation and optimism, nothing is beyond saving.
YouTube account HeyMikeBauer has made an especially entertaining version of Friday, recorded as a pre-electric Bob Dylan and amassed about 1.8 million views. Why this video has not been monetized is a true mystery to me.
Conan and Team CoCo attacked claiming copyright infringement on their earlier hit: Thursday.
Slightly funny is the parody made by these two superaffluent suburban kids that’s clocked 2.25 million views, although I ultimately find it wanting. If they had been two low-income innercity kids I feel like I could have gotten behind it, but when two eleven year olds have a music studio in their gigantic housemansion, high quality video equipment and apparently an iPhone 4, I really expect perfection. No clicks for you kiddies.
Finally, I find this dubstep version INCREDIBLE: