Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black and Psy (Gangnam Style) are all well-known artists who owe their success to the video sharing website, and their work is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to viral videos.
Back in Terra Naomi’s day, the idea of being discovered online was still an unknown phenomenon. Posting homemade videos of her living room performances, Noami received the first ever YouTube Award for Best Music Video, for her song Say It’s Possible.
“I had no role models before me. It was such a new concept at that time and I had no idea of the impact the videos would have on my career,” Naomi explains.
Having first garnered a loyal following on MySpace, Naomi moved over to YouTube in mid-2006, which helped to really bring her dreams to life. Known for her powerful and intense vocals, not only had Noami discovered an authentic means of sharing her music, but she had the talent to go along with it.
“It was great because both these platforms offered an interactive space where I could communicate with my audience,” she says.
“I could answer any questions the fans had and truly connect with people in a way that was so different to the traditional model of the music business. Before, companies had their A&R guys who would scout out talent, and usually if an artist was heard in a public space, it meant they had already been discovered and were being backed by a record label.”
It wasn’t long after her online career picked up momentum that Naomi signed with Universal Island Records and released her debut album Under The Influence. She soon came to realise that even the major music companies had little or no knowledge of the online space. Taking time to figure out who she was and what she wanted to achieve, Naomi decided to return to her roots and realign with her original fan base. She remains an independent artist to this day.
“YouTube definitely helped to shape me as an artist and influenced the path I would take. At first, I had this silly idea that anything I could do, a record company could magnify, but it wasn’t true,” she admits.
Although YouTube has helped to give rise to new and undiscovered artists, creating a space where virtually everything goes also has a negative impacts.
“People want to choose what they watch and it’s great that there’s a space where artists can connect with their own audience, but I’m still undecided. There is so much out there and I think culturally, art suffers. People don’t really know what good music is anymore,” Noami says.
“On the other hand, I think it’s great that my music has inspired others to do what they love.”
Naomi continues to transcend boundaries. She will be visiting South Africa this week, performing at PopArt tonight and at Tanz Live on Saturday August 31. Naomi will be accompanied for the latter show by Andra, Natalie Chapman and Shotgun Tori.