How Two Kids Made A Million Dollars Off A Viral Dance Song (Juju on That Beat)

By on October 28, 2016 in ArticlesMusic News

If you're a heavy Instagram or Snapchat user, you've undoubtedly seen countless viral dance videos. Whether it was Silento's "Watch Me," iHeartMemphis' "Hit the Quan," or Ghost Town DJs "My Boo" (The Running Man Challenge), a viral dance video clan help a song soar to the top of the charts, or in the case of "My Boo," help a 20 year old song regain popularity. The latest song to get the viral dance video treatment is "JuJu on That Beat (TZ Anthem Challenge)." While many viral dance video trends don't last very long, which in turn hinders the ability for the artist who made the song to capitalize financially off of the short lived popularity, the song has already earned a million bucks for the artist/record label. But how exactly?

Zay Hilfiger and Zayion McCall's  "JuJu on That Beat" skyrocketed to No. 11 on the Billboard Top 100 in just three weeks on the charts. The main driving force behind the song soaring so quickly on the charts? Homemade dance videos. Jeff Vaughn, senior director of A&R at Artist Partners Group (APG), which is a joint venture with Atlantic Records, stated the following, "People keep finding it and engaging with it … Shaq just did the challenge [on Oct. 20]."

Perhaps the most important factor which contributed to the song's continuous rise on charts was the fact that the label quickly capitalized on it's viral nature. Vaughn continued, "The problem with dance records is it takes too long to handle business, and the momentum dies … These types of records need to be approached differently."

And approach it differently they did. Once APG heard about "Juju on That Beat," they moved quickly. The dance videos to "Juju" started gaining popularity in August when a group called Fresh the Clowns made a video to the song. Shortly thereafter, in early September, a video of a high school student dancing to the song was uploaded, which further increased the song's popularity. Despite the song's popularity, "it wasn't for sale anywhere," said Vaughn. Vaughn met Hilfiger and McCall in Los Angeles on Sept. 20.

Vaughn then signed the pair, and proceeded to get the ball rolling on being able to monetize off of the song. One of the biggest potential issues that the label and artists had to overcome was the issue of sampling. "Juju" is essentially a sped up loop of Crime Mob's 2004 hit "Knuck If You Buck," meaning that they had to get the sample cleared before they could make the song available for sale on iTunes. The saving grace for both the label and Hilfiger and McCall was that "Knuck If You Buck" was originally released through Atlantic/APG's sister company Warner Bros. As a result, they were able to get the sample cleared in just 72 hours. The song hit iTunes just five days after the pair were signed to the label.

The song's growth has been "explosive" ever since it was made available for sale, according to Vaughn.

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