Years ago, the path to success in the world of entertainment seemed long and arduous. Aspiring artists often waited years before being noticed by the public. There were endless stories of actors waiting tables in Hollywood hoping to get discovered; of writers sending off hundreds of manuscripts to publishers only to accumulate a pile of rejection letters; of singers working for next to nothing in small clubs as they waited to get signed by a record company. Nowadays, however, instead of depending on big media companies to decide their future, more and more artists are following the trend of displaying their talents online – often with spectacular results.
Pop star Justin Bieber is perhaps the best-known Internet success story. This self-taught musician was a fifteen-year-old Canadian high school student whose only claim to fame was a second-place prize in a local talent show. When his mother began posting videos of Justin singing on the Internet, he became an overnight sensation. Within months he was signing a contract with a major record label, and his first full-length album, My World 2.0, hit the charts around the world.
A growing number of novelists are gaining recognition on the Internet, too. That’s where Darcie Chan self-published her first novel as an e-book even though it was rejected by ten publishers and more than a hundred literary agents. The novel, The Mill River Recluse, sold 400,000 copies in its first year. As a result of that success, Chan is now being courted by major publishers and even by movie studios.
A different sort of fame has been achieved by Michelle Phan, who got her start with online video tutorials on beauty and cosmetics. Within a few years, she had over 200 videos to her credit and more than one billion Internet views. She has now been hired by a major cosmetics company to promote their products online.
Clearly, because of the Internet, talented people are increasingly less dependent on the power of the publishing, music, and movie industries. Of course, most stories of Internet success are much more modest. When a video of a cat playing the piano or a child singing opera goes viral, fame doesn’t last very long. As the artist, Andy Warhol famous predicted in 1968: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” It’s a prediction that certainly appears to be coming true. Who knows who or what trend will emerge in the next 15 minutes? Your guess is as good as mine.