A little over two years ago, Maggie Rogers was wrapping up a masterclass in music composition at New York University as a largely unknown singer-songwriter, one of millions hardly identifiable in the throng of the internet’s music platforms. Then, at the speed of few before her, a lone video showcasing her music caught fire on social media platforms and launched a career. Today, her newly released album Heard it in a Past Life sits at #2 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on Album Sales. What happened in between is a remarkable reminder of the power and influence of social media.
First, in February 2016, music mogul Pharrell joined Rogers’ masterclass to offer feedback on the students’ original music. While hearing Rogers’ Alaska for the first time, his reaction was caught on video (below):
The genuine awe which unfolds on Pharrell’s face, accompanied by his review of Rogers’ music as “singular” and “a drug for [him]”, was memorable enough to draw the attention of internet influencers, including Slate, Jezebel, Reddit, and others, within a few months. Soon, music listeners followed the links from these articles, followed her social media, and ultimately generated millions of streams across Spotify and Bandcamp. With record labels, management companies, and industry leaders reaching out, Rogers’ career took off.
Can’t express how overwhelmed and completely filled with gratitude I am for everyone who has expressed their support over the last 24 hours.
— Maggie Rogers (@maggierogers) March 23, 2016
Through one video, Rogers found an audience, or more appropriately, the audience found her. Motivated to share a memorable meme-worthy reaction video, of which there are countless, web-surfers instead came across a uniquely brilliant song. While nearly all musicians in today’s world are discovered through the internet, it’s not often that a single video launches a career like this one has. More so, in an arena where musicians thirst for views and streams, Rogers was uniquely discovered by a video she did not even plan nor orchestrate.
In this way, I believe the astounding story of Maggie Rogers speaks to the good of social media; she made good art and people found it. Without Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, and others, this video would likely not have been noticed, shared, and seen by so many. Her content was released into this online world and its natural selection process did its job, pushing her music to the top, through the noise. Today, as she prepares to embark on her second international tour to perform her acclaimed album, I hope she serves as a reminder that through the myriad of social media clutter, there is good waiting out there, worth searching for.