Although the involvement of corporations in the making of “memes” shouldn’t be new to internet regulars, the fact Harlem Shake instantly became such a hysterical epidemic and the details in Kevin Ashton’s story on Quartz makes it an interesting read nonetheless:
Google’s trend charts of the phrase “Harlem Shake” are seismic. Almost no one looked for the words until Feb. 7, then searches surged faster than any term Google ever had, except for “Whitney Houston” after her death. A few weeks later, they fell close to zero.
Through Wednesday Feb. 6, the five “Harlem Shake” videos (three featuring Miller, two featuring the Australian and American longboarders imitating him) received several hundred thousand views. It was what happened next that made it viral. It had nothing to do with community and everything to do with commerce.
A new imitation of “Harlem Shake” appeared. It came not from YouTube users, but from Maker Studios, a Los Angeles company that specializes in making money from YouTube and is partly owned by Time Warner.