Vevo has just released its round-up of the top pop culture moments that drove music video viewership in 2023.
Here, Dot Levine, SVP, global communications & Vevo London, reflects on the relationship between music videos and popular culture.
Music videos are part of our cultural fabric – they capture the cultural zeitgeist and have a symbiotic relationship with our lexicon, fashion and other trends. This year, once again, we can see that music videos play an important role in pop culture – according to data from the 2023 UK Vevo Media Tracker, 83% of people agree.
Whilst we know that the latest premieres from the biggest stars drive key tune-in moments throughout the year, the rediscovery of past music videos is directly impacted by what is going on in the world around us. Viewership of our catalogue content is driven by big cultural moments, and at Vevo we can identify clear links between what’s on the news and the music videos that are being enjoyed and re-watched. Nostalgia is a big word for us this year!
Here are some key trends we can share with the music industry from our data in 2023...
Social media continues to power music discovery
Social media powerfully informed the way we seek out music videos in 2023, with audio heard on these platforms often being at the beginning of the discovery journey, especially for younger consumers. Take dance crazes on social media, for example, the likes of which catapulted global viewership of Rihanna’s 2005 hit If It's Lovin' That You Want by 412%, or Sade’s 1984 classic Smooth Operator by 103%, compared to the year before.
Newer UK artists have also felt the benefit of a social media boost worldwide. Take Bakar, whose Hell ‘N’ Back video saw views double stateside on the back of a viral TikTok video. We know that social media trends are now borderless and social media platforms can catapult an artist into the mainstream, sometimes breathing a new lease of life into their content years later.
Another example of social media fueling rediscovery was Kourtney Kardashian Barker’s viral pregnancy announcement, in which she posted her recreating a scene from Blink-182’s 1999 music video for All The Small Things. That same day, fans flocked to check out the reference and the video saw a 400% lift in US views (as well as 3 times the views globally).
Breaking down borders – increased globalisation of music
We are all more connected than ever, with barriers such as different languages and continents diminishing in significance to audiences. The Vevo Media Tracker revealed that 59% of UK fans do not need to know the language of a song in order to enjoy it, and 67% are interested in checking out music from around the world. With consumers highly receptive, cue an explosion in popularity of content from artists all over the world.
The surge of popularity in African genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano, for example, over the past year are testament to this, propelling the careers of artists like Libianca (also on Vevo’s Dscvr Artists to Watch for 2024), Tyla, Tems, and Davido. We are really looking forward to seeing this continue into 2024, as we onboard and work with more artists of these genres.
A retro revival in TV and film fuels a demand for nostalgic music content
From TV shows to documentaries and big releases like Barbie (spiking views for Aqua’s Barbie Girl with a 242% uplift in global daily views), we have all been inspired to tune into Vevo and enjoy a wide range of vintage content.
Netflix’s original content in particular helped fans rediscover catalogue music videos this year. The Wham! documentary propelled views of the band’s music video catalogue by 136%, and the more recent hit series Robbie Williams drove 150% more views for the British singer on Vevo. The popular reality dating show Love Is Blind also gave a boost to the music video for Lee Ann Womack’s I Hope You Dance (116% bump in global daily views), after one couple made it their wedding song.
Don’t call it a comeback
From reunion tours to albums, fans love a comeback. Busted’s video views doubled upon the release of their 20th anniversary album, Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding’s latest track caused viewership of their joint catalogue to spike by 1,104%, and when Take That released brand new music and tour dates, the video for Patience nearly tripled.
Of note, one of the largest premieres on Vevo this year was the music video for The Beatles’ last ever song, Now And Then. Featuring all four band members, the official music video received almost 2.5 million views in just the first two weeks of release in the UK alone, a testament to their powerful fandom decades later, and audiences' desire to watch quality content.
We also saw a literary phenomenon power the music video world, as we all dived into Britney Spears’ candid memoir. Readers were keen to relive the pivotal moments of her life and career, contextualising the themes and anecdotes from her book through her catalogue. In fact, Everytime saw 27 times its average daily global views following Britney’s book release.
This is my favourite time of year. I love looking back at these key moments and seeing how music videos have once again connected with fans worldwide. We know that music videos are symbiotic with culture, but it's fascinating to see the moments that really stand out and drive viewers to specific videos. These are moments that bring friends, colleagues and families together and it's really special to see that play out across our network.
These moments also have a direct impact on an artist’s trajectory, whether an emerging artist who goes viral or an older song being re-discovered by a new generation; these are really positive trends for the creators themselves, and we are proud to play a part in that cycle.