Deep Dive: What does it take to be famous in 2021?

Nicolas Read

You click on a social media post. Your like is notified to the poster and appears as another count on an ever-growing number of digital hearts. You may not know it, but that like has just contributed to that person’s fame.

As more and more likes and comments appear on our posts, social media companies such as Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and TikTok use complex AI algorithms that evaluate the statistics of your post in order to make it appear in certain people’s feeds. The more you like and comment, the more your post becomes visible on everyone’s screens. For this reason, this generation has made becoming famous for something extremely easy, and fast.

Fame In History
Before the modern era of the United States, achieving fame was a special gift bestowed upon someone. But it wasn’t as easy as making a funny video. You needed to be especially talented in something, whether it be looking good or playing the piano. But fame wasn’t about only that. Luck was your best friend in the industry, and it took years for most people to achieve some sort of fame. With large media companies deciding whether someone would be famous or not, it was much more difficult but extremely rewarding if you were to get lucky. Getting praise no matter where you were in the country, a large fortune, and of course, the ability to get away with things that most people couldn’t. But, of course, there were some awful negatives. You had to be constantly worrying about the persona you made for yourself, and the work given by the media companies which were your life-line to maintaining popularity.

Fame Now
With the rise of the internet in the 90s, the celebrity industry was turned upside-down. No more were the constant days of serving a media company in return for you to become known. Though it is still a luck-based game, it is considerably easier now to become popular than it was 40 years ago. Though the perks of being famous are more watered down, and it is much harder to stay consistently famous without constant promotion, once you become a household name the benefits from the past start reaching you. Musicians such as Silento and Lil Nas X used social media to their advantage so their now hits could spread everywhere like a virus, reaching every corner of the United States, making millions in the process. With this in mind, I did a small experiment on how the Youtube Algorithm works.

The Experiment
I and my artist friend posted a song that we made on January 27th. My artist friend, who was much more popular and knowledgeable about using the algorithm to advantage explained it to me like this: “You can’t just post it and expect it to grow naturally. You have to make it big yourself and THEN let the algorithm do its work. So I and he made a couple of fake accounts just to get the ball rolling. Only 10 views so far. Then I took the initiative to tell all of my friends from the U.S. and Brazil to like and comment as much as possible on the song. With that, we managed to increase the view count from 10 to 50, with 9 comments and 7 likes. But we were not done, so we decided to push our song through various Discord servers, bringing people who were interested in our specific genre to listen to our song, increasing the viewership to 75 with the same amount of likes and comments. After a late night of promoting, we decided to call it a night. We came back to 110 views on the 28th. Though not a huge success, it was only the first part of the process. Our theory is that if we post one song a day from our album, we can drastically increase our follower and viewer count as compared to releasing it at once, because YouTube likes consistent content, and will include that in their algorithm, reaching more and more people. Even though our song is not professionally done, we believe that we have to make it somewhat viral, and use the possible earnings to invest in better quality content.