Eric Whitacre beats dead horse
Nowadays the internet is making it easier than ever for musicians, composers, and 14-year-old rich girls to get their music out into the world and into the ears of any human with access to a computer. However, the same artists who gain their fame and success on the World Wide Web can easily use its tools to exploit their fans into supporting some of their ridiculous endeavors.
Take Eric Whitacre, for example. Anyone who has ever been a part of an organized musical ensemble at some point in their life knows exactly who this golden-locked beauty of a man is. But, if you happen to live under a very unmusical rock, let me explain. Whitacre is a super-popular, Grammy-winning, music-composing, choir-and-band-directing god.
Over the past several years he has organized a “Virtual Choir” that has sprung him into global fame. Long story short, he uploaded a video of himself conducting his song, “Lux Aurumque,” received over 185 separate videos from 12 different countries of people singing his music, spliced together the audio from each, and voila!—the first Virtual Choir video was born. According to his website, the video gained over a million views in the first two months and has now acquired over 3 million. Now, after three Virtual Choir videos (each new one receiving less and less media attention and subsequently, fewer views), Whitacre and his team have set their sights on a fourth installment. But here’s the catch: it will be completely fan-funded!
Seems legit—the entire global Whitacre fandom coming together to create a piece of popular culture with their voices and bank accounts. I wasn’t completely turned off by the idea until I discovered the Kickstarter campaign of $100,000 to fund the project. Wait . . . $100,000?! “Believe it or not, VC3 alone cost us way more than $100,000 to make,” his Kickstarter page justifiably explains. The aforementioned video has received only about 500,000 views.
For someone who has a Twitter stream jam-packed with pop culture jabs and the latest musical memes, Whitacre seems surprisingly out of touch with the ways of the almighty internet. Nowadays web sensations lose their hype as quickly as they gain it (Remember the Gustavus Meme page on Facebook? Oh yeah, that exists). However, I’ve come to believe that Whitacre doesn’t consider his Virtual Choir videos to be anything near comparable to flashmobs or the Harlem Shake (which is already so last week), otherwise, they probably would have died off alongside Nyan Cat and Double Rainbow guy. I honestly hate to say it, but Virtual Choir is past its prime.
There must be something better that Whitacre can spend his, time, energy, and fans’ money on than a YouTube video, that (if the exponential decay graph is accurate) will receive only about 250,000 views. He could start a scholarship fund for aspiring musicians and composers. He could establish a music program for underprivileged children. He could buy me a really nice engagement ring. There is just no way to convince me that any video that can be viewed for free on the internet is worth $100,000 to make. The sad punchline to this story is that Whitacre has exceeded his goal by over $20,000. I mean, come on, Rebecca Black only had to pay $4,000, and look how many views her video has!