5 ways to become the next online video star as outlined by Mike Polk, a producer for the comedy site break.com. Break.com specializes in male-oriented get-hit-in-the-crotch humor (see the break.com recruiting video for an example), but their criteria still works for musical artists. Here's my version of their five criteria for online video stardom:
1) Immediacy: There has to be something that grabs your viewer right off the bat. The Internet is flooded with artists who can get your attention quickly and they're the ones that have a chance for big-time viewer numbers. Our modern attention span is such that if you don't grab them within in the first 5 seconds, you've probably lost them.
2) Eye-catching thumbnail: Thumbnails are incredibly important but it's not about being attractive - it's about having presence and charisma. Unfortunately you have to convey that on a picture about the size of a postage stamp online. Given the limited nature of thumbnail selection by YouTube, getting the right thumbnail for your video can be a crapshoot. The only way you can get a better selection of your thumbnail is to become a "partner" (meaning that ads are shown before your video), but it could mean the difference between a just a few or a massive amount of views.
3) Versatility: There's a one-man-band nature of online videos. You have to be able to incorporate your music, do your own camera work, and know how to edit video. There are so many artists who don't know how to do any of this and that's why I'm currently writing a book called The Musician's Video Handbook. Look for it next year.
4) Originality: You need a concept of what you want to do and how you want to get that across that's both unique and original. Originality is easy to demand, but difficult to produce, especially in these days of increased competition.
5) Likability: Everyone wants to watch someone that they would want to approach, who's not full of himself, and is able to laugh at himself. If you can't evoke some sort of of empathetic emotion from the viewer, they're not going to tell their friends.
Is that all? Hardly, but it's a start. So many videos are created with a serendipity that makes them huge online hits, but not very reproducible. The really hard part with having a hit video is to follow up and have another one, and regardless of the type of artistic endeavor, that's the sign of true star.