A lesson in socially driven economics has been in play over the last several weeks and for those that missed it I think its time to have a look at how it began and what it lead up to and what exactly it all means!
The campaign begins
If you live in the UK then the situation will be quite familiar. The program broadcast in the UK called X-Factor (much like American Idol in the USA) has for the last 4 years dominated the prestigious number 1 spot on the Christmas Charts releasing classic ballads and songs “in the spirit of the season”. This seems to have annoyed some people. No, actually, its annoyed a lot of people… and they had enough.
What started out as a idea on Facebook, quickly gained momentum across a range of social networks and the group exploded with discussions and encouragement by users to support the idea and help make an impression on the music industry. Twitter picked up momentum using the hashtag #ratm4xmas or #RATM and there was a Rage Against the Machine For Christmas Number 1 Website available as well.
The crux of the situation can be seen in the numbers below over the sales figures below:
- (Series 1 – 2004) Steve Brookstein – Against All Odds– 250,000 copies sold
- (Series 2 – 2005) Shayne Ward- That’s My Goal – 742,180 copies sold
- (Series 3 – 2006) Leona Lewis – A Moment Like This – 571,253 copies sold
- (Series 4 – 2007) Leon Jackson – When You Believe – 490,000 copies sold
- (Series 5 – 2008) Alexandra Burke – Hallelujah – 576,000 copies sold
All of these Christmas Number 1 results where as a result of the X-Factor and basically, enough was enough, for people and they took a stand. The final results, as accurately as we can make them at this stage anyway are:
Rage Against the Machine (released 1992) – released by popular demand and a Facebook campaign Killing in the Name – 502,000
Source for figures: Unreality TV
The 2009 Christmas Number 1
The final result, based on these figures is that Rage Agasint the Machine not only achieved the number 1 single for Christmas in the UK, they also created the record for the the first exclusively download-only single to hit number one, after pulling in more than 950,000 fans on the Facebook page along side which a JustGiving page was created to raise money for UK homeless charity Shelter which, as of 19 December, was reported to have raised over £50,000 (approximately $80,000).
Finally, Rage Against the Machine have promised to hold a Free Gig in the UK as a show of thanks for the support and passion shown by fans in the UK. They are also donating a proportion of this unexpected “windfall” from the singles sales to the Shelter charity.
The current affairs behind it
The whole episode has created a stir with media interest reaching fever pitch as Sundays chart announcement drew closer. Simon Cowell was reported as having branded the RATM campaign “stupid”, “cynical” and even “bullying”. According to the Guardian Newspaper Cowell stated:
“If there’s a campaign, and I think the campaign’s aimed directly at me, it’s stupid. Me having a No 1 record at Christmas is not going to change my life particularly,” Cowell said. “I think it’s quite a cynical campaign geared at me that is actually going to spoil the party for these three.”
How things can change.
The big winners out of this though are of course SONY, although the more fanatical are citing this as a problem, at the end of the day, that’s another issue to address. There is always next Christmas I guess :P
For your Christmas viewing pleasure.
Rage Against the Machine “Killing in the Name” – Pure brilliance.
The point behind all this was that a feeling of expression was stirred in the world of social media. People utilised the medium to effectively rally behind a single cause and make their opinions heard rather than simply accepting the Status Quo and accepting something that many thought was inevitable consequently affecting the final outcome and making their voices heard.
The obvious power behind this type of movement is and has amazing potential for the future and certainly is not the first time that its reach has been felt. To say that this will happen again would be full hardy, but the fact is, it has happened and as many of us know, the proof is in the pudding. Social Media has again had an effect on the “real” world and will most likely continue to affect and influence public opinion and information distribution and syndication in the future.