Patrice Wilson, CEO of Ark Music Factory and the man responsible for Rebecca Black, has had a busy week: He just premiered the music video of his newest artist, Lexi St. George, on Good Morning America. We spoke to him about the surprising success that's come from "Friday," the most-hated YouTube video of all time.
You heard that correctly: The guy who made "Friday," a work of such crystallized badness it turned the entire internet into a roiling sea of hatred, is actually sort of successful. "I get constant emails every single day from people wanting to work with Ark Music Factory," he tells us. He has to turn people away all the time.
"As much as I want to work with other people, Ark from day one has always auditioned people. I pick people for a specific reason—there's something about them."
Patrice Wilson, the co-founder of Ark and the man you can credit/blame for introducing the world to Rebecca Black
The latest artist to catch Wilson's eye is a 14-year-old named Lexi St. George. They were in New York this week for the airing of a four-day Good Morning America segment called "One Week to Hit It Big." GMA got Wilson to hold casting calls in California malls searching for the next tween pop sensation. He chose Lexi and put her through a "pop star boot camp," all documented for the show.
The introductory "One Week to Hit it Big" segment explains how Wilson was chosen to be GMA's star-maker because of the "viral sensation surrounding 'Friday' and what it did for Rebecca Black." Which is a nice bit of historical revision considering the "viral sensation surrounding 'Friday'" consisted of thousands of people leaving comments on the video telling Rebecca Black to kill herself. Not to mention GMA's own segment about "Friday," which asked if it was "the worst music video in the world."
Confronted with "Friday" backlash, Wilson said at the time he basically meant for the song to be dumb. "That was the whole point," he told us in late March. "To create something that was really simple but something that sticks in people's head. To have people say 'I hate this song, but I'm still singing it.'"
But Wilson says he's not looking to repeat the Rebecca Black hate boomerang with Lexi St. George. The song is truly supposed to be good, and her success will come from people loving her music.
"I don't want people comparing and saying she's the next Rebecca Black," he says. "With this project, it's a bit of a different thing. We wanted to make something everybody could like, whether the older or younger generation… I don't anticipate that people are going to dislike this video. I hope people give her a chance and not say I don't like ark music factory so I don't like this song." That is, it's supposed to be good.
So far, Lexi St. George's pounding "Dancing to the Rhythm" has not inspired much vitriol. We didn't see a single comment on the video telling Lexi to kill herself.
"I've basically been reading every review and I'm like, thank God this is really good," Wilson said.
The song's tolerability will probably be its downfall. It's hard to see how even an admittedly catchy song like "Dancing to the Rhythm"—indistinguishable from a thousand pop jingles before—could come close to the 150 million views "Friday" boasted before it was taken down amidst a legal dispute over the rights to the song. There are no meaty bits for the hive mind to latch onto.
But Wilson says he doesn't care if it gets five million views or five. "Views isn't all that matters, it's about passion."