While L. Young has four albums out and a host of TV music credits, the Kentucky-based R&B singer has been toiling in relative obscurity for years. But 10 months ago he began playing around with an iPhone app (we've not been able to find out which) that records multiple takes of him singing different parts of the same song, then strings them all together into a single split-screen video for upload to social media. Though he's the only member of this "band," he attributed the subsequent videos—primarily covers of R&B classics—to "L. Young & Da Youngstaz" in a nod to his on-screen clones.
The videos were modest hits, with the least-viewed barely cracking 15,000 views and one just squeaking past 100,000. But last week he quietly posted this one, covering "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson's collaboration with Bruno Mars:
At press time the YouTube version only had 166,000 hits. But uploading the same video to his Facebook account racked up 1.8 million in less than a week.Then the viral Facebookers—those who take videos and repost them, sans attribution, for clicks and presumably income—got hold of it. An account called KOWKOW ripped and re-posted the video, racking up some 487,000 hits. But it was the LAD Bible account that put it over the top; this weekend their initially unattributed re-posting of the video spread like Facebook wildfire, pulling in 17.5 million viewers and garnering a over quarter of a million "shares."
The internet being what it is, millions of people watched this video and had no idea who was singing it. Comments began flooding L. Young's YouTube page about the LAD Bible reaping the benefits of L. Young's work: "You're missing out on a LOT of ad revenue while they're getting it all," one commenter wrote.
LAD Bible belatedly credited the singer in a comment, but their rip of the video is still the dominant one on YouTube. Meanwhile, L. Young has edited the text over his original Facebook post of the video to read: "L. Young, L. Young, L. Young, L. Young!!! That's for those who are still wondering who I am."
So here's a question for those of you who do creative work: Would you rather produce something only 100,000 people see and have it properly attributed to you, or would you rather 17 million people see it and have no idea who you are?
And speaking of anonymity, an unknown YouTuber has posted this video (possibly taken from someone else?) revealing Mark Ronson's poultry-based inspiration for part of the song: