Constant access to music is fairly unlimited nowadays—look at anyone’s iTunes library, and it would not be surprising to see that it would take weeks to listen to every song in his or her collection. Add to that the 24 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every single minute, millions of which are music videos or songs, and the amount of musical entertainment at one’s fingertips becomes somewhat overwhelming.
YouTube has been a critical component affecting the music industry for the past six years. The most famous example that has resulted from YouTube is none other than Justin Bieber. Discovered first on YouTube through videos of himself singing and playing guitar, young Justin Bieber instantly shot to fame and initiated the spread of “Bieber Fever,” becoming one of the most iconic artists of this generation.
Several other artists have gained massive popularity after uploading videos to YouTube, including the band Ok Go and singer Greyson Chance. But YouTube does not guarantee instant fame. There are plenty of mediocre and frankly, terrible singers whose videos have infiltrated the website. Although, for every unpleasant song uploaded, there seems to be a surprisingly wonderful song cover by some very talented, undiscovered people.
There are thousands, maybe millions, of videos on YouTube that include individuals singing other artists’ songs. It’s done not to infringe upon the artists’ rights, not to make money—just to express themselves and to possibly gain some fans. Such videos have allowed talented singers to reap great benefits. Twin sisters Megan & Liz are a popular YouTube sensation, and after Oprah Winfrey caught wind of their Taylor Swift song covers, the sisters were invited to meet Taylor Swift herself.
The immensely talented Sam Tsui, a recent Yale University graduate, became an internet sensation with his musical chops through acoustic covers, medleys, and mash-ups on YouTube. His music producer’s YouTube videos have been viewed over 300 million times.
The greatest result from all of these song covers is not always the fame that the singers get to enjoy—it is the musical freedom that is granted to society. Now, chances are if one hears a song on the radio, there are maybe 50 other versions of it on YouTube. This allows music lovers to better tailor their music collections. If someone loves the beat and lyrics of a Lil Wayne song but hates his voice, he or she can easily find a cover of it on YouTube—an acoustic cover, a cover by a female artist, a cover by a male artist, a remix, a mash-up of the song with another, and more.
Such freedom enhances listeners’ appreciation of music and encourages fans to acknowledge songs for their various components like lyrics, vocals, melody, etc. And with over 100 million and counting videos on YouTube, there is plenty of material for listeners to sink their appreciative teeth into.
Carol Fritz is a third-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at CF716022@wcupa.edu.