(Updated Note: I forgot to mention that all these numbers were taken from the YouTube videos the week of July 9-13, 2012.) First bit of business: check out my new blog, New Old School Swing which will feature old videos of familiar dancers. Now on to the show!
In my last post, I compiled this list of most viewed Lindy related videos. It was a relatively straight forward process of figuring out what videos uploaded since the start of the year had garnered the most views. Tena Morales then asked me in the comment section if my 2011 list accounted for events that happened earlier in the year, and if they had an advantage of getting on the list since they’ve been online longer.
It makes sense. In fact, if you look at the most viewed modern videos of Lindy Hop, Blues Dance and Balboa, you’ll notice that they’re all from 3-6 years ago.
|4,991,700views||Fast Swing Dancing - ULHS 2006, Oct 3, 2006|
|2,146,200 views||Lindy Hop Showdown, Nov 9, 2006|
|1,612,700 views||Koop - Come to me (OFFICIAL VIDEO) HQ, Jan 28, 2009|
|1,597,100 views||Denver Airport Holiday Flash Mob, Nov 22, 2011|
|1,017,900 views||Lindy Hop Dance, Nov 14, 2007|
|64,600 views||Balboa Rendezvous 2006 Bernard and AnneHelene, Mar 13, 2007|
|38,900 views||ABW 2008 - 1st Place ACBC - Mickey & Kelly, Jun 17, 2008|
|34,500 views||ACBC 2007, Jun 18, 2007|
|34,200 views||ILHC 2008 :: 1st Place Balboa, Oct 12, 2008|
|32,200 views||Marcus & Barbl - Swing balboa, Sep 1, 2007|
|137,500 views||Blues dancing demo at Cellspace, Aug 2, 2007|
|84,100 views||Damon & Heidi Blues Dance, Mar 25, 2007|
|80,100 views||Blues Dance Lesson: Ways to Connect, Aug 18, 2008|
|75,100 views||Portland Blues Dance Competition 2009 v1, Aug 25, 2009|
|63,500 views||Karen R. Smith & Mihai blues dance, Jan 10, 2007|
Note: All numbers were rounded off.
However, I noticed something interesting when I tallied up the numbers for the Champions Strictly Lindy Hop division for the International Lindy Hop Championships.
2008 and 2009 are odd because they had to be broken up into separate videos because of length, way back when YouTube had a 10 minute/100 MB limit on uploads. I combined all the numbers for each year even though it may have made more sense to average them, but the trend is still the same. The newer videos get more views faster. 2011 is still behind 2010, but at this rate after only 10 months, that won’t be the case for long.
A Bit of History
YouTube first started in 2005, and took a little while for people to understand how to use it. In the Spring of 2006, I remember Skye Humphries celebrating his birthday by watching every Lindy Hop video on YouTube, which at the time only consisted of about 70 videos. Later that year came the game changer: The Liberation final at ULHS 2006. At 7 million views and counting, it is by far the most popular Lindy Hop video online.
Austin Lindy Hopper, Jonathan Jow deserves a lot of credit for creating LindyLibrary.com which served to house videos that he recorded of various events around the country including this iconic video. I think his purpose was to create a repository for other people who did the same. Since he was a one man operation, it took some time for him to process and upload videos. The versions on YouTube were posted by other people, which sort of emphasizes the Wild West nature of the internet.
2009 was the next banner year for Lindy Hop on the YouTubes when I noticed Patrick Szmidt had uploaded Skye & Frida’s Classic performance a mere 4 hours after they had left the dance floor. Also recording that weekend was David Soltysik who now along with Patrick and Jonathan forms our main event video triumvirate.
2009 also saw the first live broadcast of a Lindy competition when ULHS partnered with NOLA.com to bring the world its Saturday night activities.
In 2010, YouTube removed it’s 10 minute limit on uploads and since then, all kind of technical advances that have made it easier for people to record and share high quality videos.
My hypothesis is that all these factors have fostered an expectation of instant gratification in terms of seeing videos from events. The faster a video goes online after an event, the more likely people will think of looking for it and sharing it (if it’s good). This starts a cycle where more people watching and talking about a video creates more momentum for more views. Timing is key because once an event passes, people move on to thinking of the next event.
For a small point of reference: in the 2011 most viewed Lindy related videos, only about half of (7 out of 15) the top videos were posted in the first half of the year.
So what’s the rate of growth for a typical vernacular jazz dance video? I have no idea. Public stats for YouTube videos don’t go into that much detail, although you can see some interesting odds and ends and broad trends by clicking that little graph icon below each video.
However, as luck would have it, I looked up what the most popular ILHC 2011 videos were about a month after the event. Just idle curiosity at the time. I was going to try to put together some sort of fancy report, but the results were so obvious that I lost interest and forgot about it. Fortunately I saved them (In the same place where I keep hundreds of other unfinished blog drafts), and remembered them when Tena asked her question last week. So of course, I went back and did a little “Where are they now” bit with their current view counts. Voila!
- The reason why you see multiple listings of the same performance is because I looked at the numbers for individual videos, so multiple popular ones will pop up more than once.
- The initial list in September was just based on the first two pages of highest views for ILHC 2011. Since then, about 20 other videos have become more popular than the lowest one on this list, but since my OCD wasn’t that thorough in September, I just stuck with the original list.
- As you can see, the average increase in rate of views was about 357% from September to July.
- Charts in Wordpress suck.
So what does this prove? I’m not actually sure since we don’t really have anything to compare this to. I’m not that much of a numbers person, so I didn’t do any sort of sophisticated analysis of them. Copy. Sort. Post. Done. At least it’s another point of reference for us to look at in the future.
However, Tena’s question also made me wonder what exactly is “a lot” of views for a Lindy Hop related video? The ULHS 2006 video is the most popular with at least 7 million views on the two versions of it. That’s the top end. On the other hand you have to figure that anyone with a halfway decent social network should be able to get a couple hundred views on any dance video they upload, assuming they post links on Facebook, Twitter, Friendster etc. The question remains: how big is the actual audience of regular Lindy Hop related videos out there? This comes out of my endless curiosity of how big the Lindy scene actually is.
For more points of reference, I decided to compare the view numbers for the major contests at various notable events. This includes the Champions Stictly from ILHC above, the Liberation Final/Lindy Showdown at the New Orleans Swing Dance Music Festival, the Pro Strictly Lindy at the National Jitterbug Championships at Camp Hollywood, the Lindy Hop Couple division at Camp Jitterbug, and the Invitational All Star Strictly Lindy at Lone Star Championships.
- In addition to the wonkiness of the ILHC numbers, I also had to make some arbitrary decisions about how to count the various versions of the Lindy showdown since it’s divided into battles between different couples. In each case I went with the final final battle between the last couples because I'm assuming that everyone who saw the last battles were mostly the same as the people who saw the previous battles.
- I also didn’t include the European Swing Dance Championships because their Champions Strictly Lindy is done spotlight style with individual videos for each couple.
- I started with 2007 because of the stuff I noted before, even that year is a little dicey. Very few videos before and around that time were posted in conjunction with the timing of the event. It just went up whenever. For example, the 2007 NJC/Camp Hollywood video didn't go up until a year later and is labeled "Ben Morris & Carla Heiney in Pro Lindy division at NJC 2007"
What do we learn? Well, the numbers are all over the place, so there’s no real trend other than the ILHC one I noted previously. If you put a gun to my head, I would say that about 5,000 views is a pretty decent indication that you’ve probably reached most of the worldwide audience of people who actually care about these sort of things.
Once you get past 10,000 I think you’re entering the realm of obsessive compulsive stalkers and the friends of the proud parents posting on their Facebook pages. Past 20,000, and it's safe to say that those friends are sharing with their friends and you probably have something going on. This probably also includes the really really obsessive fanboys and fangirls.
Another guess: High quality matters both in dance and video. Notice the ULHS numbers after 2008. In my review of ULHS 2009 I noted:
Well filmed and HQ stuff makes a huge difference. I watched the ULHS 2006 Solo Blues after watching this year’s contest, and it’s a completely different experience especially if you’re watching the original downloaded off of www.LindyLibrary.com, not just on YouTube. I think that’s part of the reason why the 2008 clips aren’t as interesting to watch, in addition to the bad angles and distance. Hopefully more HQ stuff will come out. Of course I said that about ULHS 2008 and we’re all still waiting . . .
It looks like I’m not the only one who noticed. For further proof, look at the Camp Jitterbug 2010 numbers. It seems like a freakish fluke until you realize that was another super hot contest that was also recorded numerous times; like this one in vivid HD along with some extra video editing and camera work has over 130,000 views by itself.
However, do you want to see something really odd? The numbers for the 2010 Lone Star Championships Open Strictly blow all of these away. It’s not the Advanced or the All Star Strictly. It's the Open Strictly, and it’s at almost a quarter of a million views. According to its stats, it’s being referred by some other highly viewed boogie woogie clips, but that’s still a freakish number for a Lindy video.
Anyway, based on my own anecdotal observations on numbers of other videos from the past week, I would guess that the average views for a video is maybe 1000 for a decent video from a regional event. More or less. But don't quote me on that because I'm just pulling that number out of my butt based on my terrible memory.
The other thing I confirmed is that my audience on the Facebook page for this blog is a pretty hipster lot. Most of the stuff that gets tons of likes and comments on that page, only gets a decent amount of play online. For example, this performance by this W Project video got the most likes ever on my page (38), but it only has an above average view count at around 1700, which is pretty good compared to the arbitrary standard I just established, but well short of the more popular videos from this year’s list. To be sure though, it’s done pretty well for only being out for a few months. Combined with the other versions of this performance, it has about 2700 views so the videos probably have some long term legs.
If you can think of a conclusion based on this jumbled mess of numeric based obsessive compulsiveness, I would be thoroughly impressed. At the very least, I have something to refer to in my 20th anniversary post, which probably won't get posted until 2049.
Disclaimer again: In case you're new here, I work for The International Lindy Hop Championships which is why all the numbers are ILHC-centric, and why I bothered in the first place.