Home / Music / More Digital Disdain: The Story Of Rebecca Black Gets Stranger

More Digital Disdain: The Story Of Rebecca Black Gets Stranger

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Happy Father’s Day and welcome back to SMCD. I know I missed a bit of time; one of those weeks was personal, the other was business. This one comes to you rather late simply because I’m half-dumb. Nonetheless, let’s get right in to it here because we have what seems to be an SMCD first…a sequel.

Almost three months ago, Rebecca Black posted one of the worst and most popular YouTube videos ever. No matter how people felt about the song and the video, “Friday” took on a life of its own. The track and video made news again this week as the story of this song just got a little stranger.

Already at 165,000,000(!!) views, someone had the brilliant idea to monetize the one facet of this song that could certainly use it. The song “Friday” has already been on iTunes as well as just about every outlet Ark Records has been able to pimp it out on. But let’s face it – YouTube was where the action was happening. The video showed no signs of stopping, even with that many views already. Until it took advantage of YouTube rentals.

That’s exactly right, YouTube is in the beta stages of testing the idea that, for a nominal fee, you can “rent” some of their content for a period of a couple days. How long you view depends on how much you pay – and how much the content owner sets both points at. As far as film distribution and other various videos go, this is a pretty good idea in all actuality. Critics will decry not having everything in the world available for free, sure, but content owners are allowed to be paid for their work, are they not? This is an excellent way to do it, as one of the most popular ways to view video now comes with its own box office.

However, when it comes to a video that damn near everyone in the country has seen (or at least heard of) and now they decide to start charging for the “privilege” of seeing it…not so fast. It’d be one thing if the video were a rental coming right out of the gate, but charging for it so late in the game is kinda like paying to see Chyna’s new porn movie after she’s “performed” right in your bedroom. It’s already been seen and done. Besides, Ark Music ran in to another problem with renting out “Friday”, as they may or may not have that right yet.

Despite what morons like this one would have you believe, Rebecca Black – at age 13 – is no marketing CEO or anything of the sort. She’s 13, remember? Duh. Black had no intention of monetizing the video, but Ark Records sure did. Ark Records and the Black family are in a legal dispute over one of the biggest internet memes ever.

According to Mrs. Black, a contract was signed wherein Ark Records was paid $4,000 to produce a video while the Blacks retained the master recording as well as all rights to the song that the co-founders of Ark Records wrote. Mrs. Black (senior, of course) contends that they paid for a video to be made and distributed, and that’s it. Ark Records claims some ownership rights as the writers of the song. You see where this is going to get ugly, right?

It already has. So far, the battle has already resulted in a pretty big casualty, as the video has now been pulled. We don’t have Rebecca Black to kick around anymore, it seems. The fight is over not only the “rental” of the video, but over Ark Records marketing things like Rebecca Black ringtones as well. Black’s family isn’t cool with that much money being made off of Rebecca, and Ark Records is still wanting to work out the legalities.

So, despite the fact that “Friday” is now gone, this battle is just heating up. We certainly haven’t heard the last of Rebecca Black, as now she’s co-starring with Katy Perry in one of her videos. For all the people that hated this video and wanted it (and her) wiped from existence…you have your wish, but understand this is only temporary. Something this big (unfortunately) doesn’t just vanish overnight. There’s no way it can with this much on the line, as now Ark Records and the Black family are locked in a struggle over who controls the worth of Rebecca Black.

A bigger question should be, just how much is Rebecca Black worth? That video, before it was canned, was the most watched video on YouTube. Ever. However, it hasn’t sold nearly as well as Ark Records would have liked it to. Kinda like TNA failing to translate 1.2 million viewers of its “Impact Wrestling” show in to any more than 1% of pay-per-view buyrates, but I digress. The song has been in every outlet imaginable, but hasn’t gone anywhere near the top of the singles charts. The video’s biggest allure was that of a train wreck – and another show of proof that morbid curiosity may equal massive publicity but doesn’t always translate in to large gobs of cash. Just ask Dixie Carter and Hulk Hogan, but I digress. Again.

As for an aspect of this story that’s been shockingly overlooked for the most part, YouTube Rentals could either be a boon or a curse. Charging for a video after that many people have seen it is one thing, but an entire service? It’s not like viewers will have to start paying for everything, though. The focus for now seems to be on movies and content owned by the major entertainment companies (who have whined to no end that YouTube is the end of capitalization as we know it for years now), and that’s fine. YouTube is still there as an outlet for the little guy as well. It’s what made the site so popular in the first place and as long as it stays in place, we should all get along nicely.

That, however, is apparently in jeopardy – but that’s another story for another time. How’s right here next week sound? Cool! See you here then. And thanks for reading.

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About Michael Melchor

Michael Melchor has covered pop culture in all its forms for several publications and websites, including BackStage Pass magazine, 411Mania.com, and Examiner.com.
  • Actually, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” video is one of the best on Youtube because it exposed the herd/lynch-mob mentality of many people, including many of the “professional” opinionators on the Internet. What a disgrace that grown people have seen fit to heap hateful abuse on a 13-year-old girl just because she sang in a video that some people don’t like! Now we have more evidence than ever that not all cyberbullies are teenagers.

  • That was my point made in the first story I posted her. It’s innocuous pop music. No more, no less. Certainly not the end of the world. I mean, what more could really be expected from a 13 year-old girl?

  • RJ

    This is actually one of the finest songs I’ve ever heard. The Beatles ain’t got nothin’ on RB.

  • There sure are a lot of wrestling references in this article. But I digress…


  • RJ

    OT: Is Chyna actually female?

  • nb

    you dont have to pay i have the video on my channel~ shanedb212

  • Roger C. Pondoc (@16regor)

    She tweeted that it was not their doing that charging thing, and in fact it resulted to taking down the video from you tube. Everyone knows that FRIDAY IS FOREVER whether we like it or not and it takes a REBECCA BLACK to make FRIDAY a common day of the week into an infamous/famous day of ou lives.So, the more mockery and hatred this novelty is getting the more REBECCA BLACK FRIDAY stucks into our heads. True!! That is the uniqueness of this virality sensation and….. the SHARKS in the music industry smells $$$$ into this. Try to take a careful analysis what’s transpiring about this recently, it adds up unto something. This girl (just turned 14 yrs old) needs more faith and proper guidance from good people right now. Why??? It seems that there is more than cyber bullying is brewing out there…………. hope that’s not gonna happen.

  • zong99

    “posted one of the worst songs”.

    No it isn’t! That’s just a rumor started by a blogger than wrote up the first popular article. Then haters jumped on the bandwagon. I can quickly find you 1000’s of songs that sound worse, are less professional and sung horridly that will never get over 1000 views on youtube. When you think about it that way, it should be obvious that it’s true. But they never get famous. The reason this got so famous was in part because it’s a catchy song despite the problems with over doing the AT etc. Also the fact that once haters got on the bandwagon, they repeated each other parrots. She’s not a great singer, no. But again, tons of worse singers out there AT or not.

  • zong99

    Another thing is that even though ARK violated Rebecca’s rights, since she owns the copyright now, it’s kind of funny to charge for that. I mean, in a way, it’s a good solution because why should all the haters be there in the first place? If they want to see it again, they must pay. And while many will not, believe me, some will pay, lol. And of course her fans would pay to see it again if they didn’t have a copy. The video had 165 million freaking views! It doesn’t matter that most people wouldn’t pay that. all that matters is that some tiny percentage would! So she’d make even more money off it, which I find amusing considering how mean people have been. Only problem is that I think ARK was taking that? But it’s the idea that was funny.

  • zong99

    Ok, that quote should read “posted one of the worst and most popular YouTube videos ever.”, but same meaning… – That said, it’s not like I said above

  • RB 4 LYFE

    Why did you ‘dislike’ the video, as you can see in the screenshot Michael Melchor? Grow up, for goodness sake

  • RB, that screenshot is all over the internet, and did not come from my personal computer screen. It was used here as an example.

  • fact check

    “Friday” was only about the 20th most watched video on youtube. ever.