Cover songs and viral videos have gone hand-in-hand since the beginning of the viral video age. Artists like Justin Bieber and Karmin were discovered by using this forum. While YouTube is the most popular viral video-sharing site around, it is not the only one. Sites like Vimeo are very popular and attract millions of unique views every day.
The chance of becoming a "viral sensation" is appealing to many. It has launched (and in some instances, killed) careers. Being a YouTube celebrity is an actual occupation and some of these fortunate people have received mainstream or traditional work while still having the freedom to post the type of videos they or their fans want. Though in some cases a "viral sensation" seems to occur overnight, the chances of a user's video becoming a sensation is (like many things) by chance. The amount of YouTube videos being uploading at any given moment is pretty awesome, but also decreases the likelihood that a random video becomes a hit. At least not as quickly as one would hope or imagine.
A new site is hoping to tap into the viral video market. Vube uses the concept of cover songs, original content, and contests as a platform for emerging artists and other creative minds. Starting just this past January the site is already beginning to make waves (it is currently translated in more than 73 languages). Their main draw is the contests that are for the most part are monthly. Artists/creators upload their video to the site. Users vote on which video they like. The amount of "likes" that a video receives (in that month only) is generated and the top 25 videos receive a cash prize. A majority of the videos that win cash prizes (which range from $20 up to $10,000 for the monthly contests) are song covers, but other non-music based videos have received a cash prize in the past. An example of a non-music winner is here.
Currently the site is ad free, which means the only way a user can make money off their videos is to win a contest. After talking to Vube co-founder Scott Perkins, this should change in the near future. But he stressed to me that the company realizes the invasiveness that online ads can place on the viewer and are planning on making the ads less aggressive with things like zero banner ads. The ads would appear in the video, but users will be given the option to automatically skip the ad. Currently the site is self-funded by the creators and members of the board.
Vube wants to return the viral video back to the everyday person. Particularly in the last few years it has become increasingly apparent that web videos are no longer for the amateur/unknown market. Some major corporations/brands and celebrities have used this method to promote their content, idea, or product. While this is great, these videos tend to be pushed further up the list with advertising and placement on the site. According to Perkins, what a user sees on the front page is measured by user data (based on popularity, geographic location, etc.). "An everyday person who has never made a video in their life could upload their first video today, and by tonight, if it performs well enough in the initial test, that person would see their video on the top of the site," Perkins says.
I came across this site when I wrote a post on the artist JRAND. He currently has a contest with Vube to help promote his new single, "Ride." I never heard of Vube and was intrigued by the idea. I have seen non-YouTube video sites before, but I was not sure the concept of Vube. After corresponding with Perkins via email and Twitter DM, the concept became clearer to me. The creators (and all involved) want to return the power of the viral video back to the average user. While cat videos will always be popular, sites like YouTube have naturally become more commercial. While this is fine, it is nice that there is a site that is going back to the original roots. It has also become a platform for emerging artists. While this is still very relevant on other sites, there is a less likely chance that the videos on Vube will get lost among the crowd. Everyone has a chance.
Vube has a way to go before it becomes real competition with the other viral video giants. Still, every site has to start somewhere. I applaud Vube for the concept and will be eager to see where the site goes. It is tough to break into the tech world, but with the traction that Vube is getting, I think it has a shot to make an impact. Sometimes that is all a company or person needs to get the ball rolling. Judging by the initial concept of Vube (which you can visit here), the company fully understands this and it is this mentality that will help them in the long run.