For everyone who has ever dismissed YouTube solely as the breeding ground of juvenile videos and amateur home footage, the recently realized YouTube Symphony Orchestra (YTSO) has done its part to dispel that judgment. Several months in the making, the online competition called for musicians of all ages, nationalities, and instruments to submit video auditions displaying their talents. The prize for winning participants? Winning a seat in the YTSO meant the chance to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall for a special one-night performance.
Word spread quickly, and turnout for the competition was impressive. About 3,000 hopeful musicians, both amateurs and professionals, submitted viral audition videos to YouTube. And in true YouTube fashion, they ranged from the creative to the extraordinary to the downright strange.
Looking back, this onslaught of audition videos was understandable. The prize was more than just a trip to the Big Apple. Rather, winning a seat in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra meant performing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall under the baton of noted conductor, director, and musician Michael Tilson Thomas. And while some of the professional participants might not be fazed by this kind of exposure, there were plenty of musical hopefuls and unknowns filling out the orchestra. For them, this meant the opportunity to perform on a previously unimagined scale.
Taking to the stage on April 15, 2009, the concert was a success on several levels. Not only was it a source of entertainment for the lucky audience members, but it was also a testament to the power of interconnectivity offered by the internet. Taking musicians from thirty different countries, the orchestra was a collection of diverse individuals who otherwise would never have had the chance to work together.
The project is also mindful of all the music lovers who couldn’t spare the cash or time to fly to New York for the concert itself. For those people, YouTube has made the video of the performance available online. In this way, everyone who diligently watched audition videos and tracked the orchestra’s progress can enjoy the end result.
When all is said and done, however, the success of the campaign can be attributed to the notoriety of user generated sites like YouTube. These kinds of campaigns rely heavily on word of mouth, and nowhere is buzz more readily spread than sites like Facebook, MySpace, or YouTube. Success was also ensured because users felt personally invested in the proceedings. From February 14 to February 22, users were able to cast their votes to decide the final lineup for the unique orchestra.
So, congrats to all the winners and the success of the concert. Now all’s that left is for all those diligent YouTubers to view the performance after the fact.