There's a lot about the "Gangnam Style" phenomenon that's worth serious study for those trying to figure out the future of the music business.
Yes, our chubby little guy made some good money from selling downloads of the song, but that's not where the real money has come from. He's making a ton of money from YouTube thanks to all the parodies that people have posted. He could have gone after all of them for copyright infringement. But he didn't.
By letting these parodists and evangelists spread the word on his song, he's (1) earned a ton of cash from YouTube views; and (b) parlayed the resulting fame into fat personal appearance fees.
TechDirt goes down this road. It's fascinating when you think about it.
A couple of months back, Mike wrote about how Psy's relaxed attitude to people infringing on his copyright helped turn Gangnam Style into one of the most successful cultural phenomena in recent years, and that includes becoming the most-viewed video on YouTube ever.
Ah yes, the maximalists will retort, this free-and-easy, laid-back approach is all very nice, but it doesn't put food on his table, does it? If you want to make a living from this stuff, you've got to enforce copyright to stop all those freeloaders ruining your business. Well, maybe not:
With one song, 34-year-old Park Jae-sang -- better known as PSY -- is set to become a millionaire from YouTube ads and iTunes downloads, underlining a shift in how money is being made in the music business. An even bigger dollop of cash will come from TV commercials.
From just those sources, PSY and his camp will rake in at least $8.1 million this year, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of publicly available information and industry estimates.
The AP story quoted above goes on to give a detailed breakdown of where that money comes from. Interestingly, it's mostly from things not directly connected with either his music or video:
It is television commercials that are the big money spinner for the most successful of South Korea's K-pop stars. PSY has been popping up in TV commercials in South Korea for top brands such as Samsung Electronics and mobile carrier LG Uplus.
Chung Yu-seok, an analyst at Kyobo Securities, estimates PSY's commercial deals would amount to 5 billion won ($4.6 million) this year.
This is yet another great example of how artists can give away copies of their music and videos to build their reputations and then earn significant sums by selling associated scarcities -- in this case, appearances in TV commercials. Now, not every musician may want to take that route, but there are plenty of other ways of exploiting global successes like Gangnam Style -- none of which requires copyright to be enforced.