Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube Sensation Pays Tribute to Himself, and YouTube, With a “YouTube Orchestra”

Gotye is an Australian musician whose music was very hard to find outside of Australia until last year. Now, thanks in large part to YouTube, it is nearly impossible not to hear him.

His video for “Somebody That I Used to Know” has been played an astonishing (but not a record) 299 million times on Google’s video site. And like everything popular on YouTube, the video and song have spawned a whole series of imitators, tributes and “responses.” This cover, for instance, has racked up 132 million views in 2012.

So here’s a perfect way for Gotye to acknowledge the site, and its users, who made him a phenomenon. It’s a video made up of other people’s versions of his video. A “YouTube Orchestra,” in his words.

If this looks familiar, there’s a good reason: Three years ago, Kutiman, another one-named musician, used the same technique to great effect.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work