Marié Digby – Harnessing (or abusing) The Social Web

I’m sure you’ve heard of this chick if you’re connected to the online world, one of the big Youtube phenomenas of 2007 coming up with an acoustic version of Rihanna’s Umbrella.

If you haven’t heard of her watch this first:

That’s Marié Digby, one of the new social web stars. If you listen to commercial radio in Malaysia you will have heard of her too as they play this acoustic cover on both Hitz and Mix (pretty frequently).

It’s definitely a good cover and most prefer it to the rather repetitive and annoying original (which really does get stuck in your head).

Following the success of this cover she became extremely famous online and fairly famous in mainstream terms.

The song was subsequently played on the radio station STAR 98.7, was featured on the third season opening episode of the MTV show The Hills,[1] and peaked at #10 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart. Digby performed the song on the late night talk show Last Call with Carson Daly on August 2, 2007.

From Wiki.

And of course it helps she’s hot and female (mixed Japanese & Irish American).

I thought it was great, people getting pushed into the mainstream by the power of the social web and virality of grassroots videos and music like our good friend Ronald Jenkees.

It got interesting when I later found out it was all a carefully planned campaign, she wasn’t an independent artist and she wasn’t just spreading her love of music on Youtube…she was already signed to Hollywood Records.

So she was basically feiging amateur status to create buzz on the Internet, pretty smart if you ask me (this is known as astroturfing).

She has of course denied this…but read this article:

Wall Street Journal: YouTube Phenom Has a Big Secret

Ms. Digby certainly isn’t the first professional to feign amateur status on YouTube. Last year, “LonelyGirl15” was revealed to be a 19-year-old actress, working with filmmakers represented by the Creative Artists Agency.

The fact that a big company supported Ms. Digby’s ruse reflects how dearly media giants want in on the viral revolution that’s changing how young consumers learn about new entertainment — even if it means a tiny bit of sleight-of-hand. It also reflects how difficult it is for new recording artists to get noticed now that young fans are paying more attention to Web sites such as Google Inc.’s YouTube and News Corp.’s MySpace than to traditional media like commercial radio.

Interesting stuff, it shows how powerful the web is becoming in launching people, especially social media sites like Youtube and Flickr.

Other links of interest:

Marié Digby on Youtube
Marié Digby on Wikipedia
Marié Digby on Myspace




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10 Responses to Marié Digby – Harnessing (or abusing) The Social Web

  1. Tyler February 14, 2008 at 2:29 pm #

    Regardless feigned amateur status or not, she is pretty good at what she does heh 😀

  2. aronil February 14, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    I wrote about it before too. hehe, if you ask me either way be it a scam or not… i think it was brilliantly choreographed. So it has pros and cons, but i maintain that she is still one talented cookie :)If you like this you should check out the dark knight campaign… now that was super cool viralling 🙂

  3. davidlian February 14, 2008 at 5:20 pm #

    Drawing a comparison to LonelyGirl15, at the end of the day these people do provide good entertainment and make YouTube certainly worth watching.

    That said, this isn’t a trend or method I’d like to see companies use to push “stars”. It’ll take away the authenticity of the social web and shift importance to engineering the rise of such “stars.”

    I wonder whether this is exactly the case with shows like American Idol though…

  4. Nicholas Chhan February 14, 2008 at 9:45 pm #

    I discovered Marie Digby on Novenmber 2006, around time LonelyGirl15 was exposed and the community was shouting this headline for a long time.

    I thought to myself while listening to Marie sing that she was either fake, or has never attended American Idol. Of course, that was just me being skeptical, heh, little did I know she actually is thanks to your post.

  5. Leona February 14, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    Yea why are most Irish mixed gals hot? And she’s not the first to do this thru YOutube

  6. suanie February 15, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    ya imagine if a massive load of them do it this way from now on. kinda spoils the fun a bit

  7. Darren February 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm #

    wow that is absolutly fantastic!

  8. davidc February 16, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    When I first found out about Marie Digby, I corresponded with her through email and in one of the letters, I asked if she happened to be signed to a record label. She answered that she was (and this was well before the WSJ article). It’s obvious to me, that she never hid or disguised the fact that she is signed. By not labeling all of her sites with ‘Hollywood Records’ she was stating the fact that she did this all on her own. The label did not help her in any shape or form. If you notice, she still hasn’t put up her record label (and probably won’t until she has their full support). Also, take notice that her myspace was created a year before she was even signed. She is an example of an artist taking her fate into her own hands and standing up against major labels who throw artists like her to the side. If you enjoyed her music simply because you believed her to be an ‘amateur’ , you probably never really liked her music very much anyway. Why not judge someone for their talent instead of their amateur or professional status? Afterall, she is just a girl, sitting in her house, playing a song. How many people can do that as well as she does? Not too many.

  9. Gabriel February 26, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    I don’t really like the song, but the whole story is a clear sign that the way of spreading media involves more and more the Internet…

    Nonetheless, she’s gorgeous….

  10. Bill Hallahan July 26, 2008 at 6:27 am #

    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article was wrong about Marié Digby. To anyone who followed her videos, it’s obvious that Marié Digby has always been herself.

    The article stated:
    “Ms. Digby’s MySpace and YouTube pages don’t mention Hollywood Records. Until last week, a box marked “Type of Label” on her MySpace Music page said, “None.”
    However, she had joined MySpace in 2004, roughly 2 years before she was signed, and she merely didn’t bother to update a setting, and she’d probably forgotten that setting even existed. I signed up for a MySpace music page, and it could even be missed when first signing up. And, since months after she recorded her CD, there was no indication it was ever going to be released, I wouldn’t expect that it would even cross her mind to change her status to signed, even if she was still aware of that setting. Note, her CD didn’t come out until approximately 2 years after she was signed, and approximately 4 years after she joined MySpace.
    The article went on to state:
    “After inquiries from The Wall Street Journal, the entry was changed to “Major,” though the label still is not named.”
    Makes sense to me. There is no point in naming a record label when there is no indication they are going to release your CD. And, given that, who she was signed with has just as little relevance as that she was signed. (Note, the CD, titled “Unfold” finally came out on April 8, 2008. Buy it, it’s wonderful).

    The Wall Street Journal article also contained:
    ‘Most of Ms. Digby’s new fans seem pleased to believe that they discovered an underground sensation.
    In fact, the vast majority of the posts were about her music, and not about “discovering” her. For most of us viewers, a huge number of people had already seen her videos when we found her, which were posted long before the WSJ article, so we could hardly claim to have ‘discovered her.’

    The term “feigning amateur status”, used in the WSJ article is completely ridiculous. Marié Digby posted music videos, and expressed enthusiasm, and hope. She was largely unknown outside of Los Angeles.

    Marié Digby has posted that a Wall Street reporter talked to Marié Digby for about an hour, but they never asked the questions that would have cleared this up. Instead, they took one response, which merely meant that her signed status wasn’t relevant to her goals (and frankly, would have seemed ridiculous in the videos), as meaning she was hiding it.

    There were radio station interviews, before the WSJ article, where she mentioned being signed. If she were hiding it, she would have hid it there too.

    I gather Marié Digby’s family is rather well off. She never mentioned that in her videos either. I wouldn’t say she was, “feigning middle class status,” but I’m sure some people would! Sad!