Baauer became the first unknown artist to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, but who is he? Chances are you’ve heard his music, even if you didn’t realize it.
The Billboard Music Awards‘ top streaming artist is a name many haven’t heard before, but you can guarantee many people have heard his music.
Baauer is the creator of one of the music crazes of 2013, “The Harlem Shake.” The song is the first by a completely unknown artist to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 1 (Psy came close but entered the chart at No. 2).
The artist can partially thank comedian Filthy Frank, who recorded the first “Harlem Shake” video, which was then recorded in different versions by tens of thousands (according to Billboard, it’s more than 93,000) of amateur videographers and posted to YouTube.
The ranking on the Billboard chart was timely, as the song’s YouTube views had everything to do with it. In February, Nielsen and Billboard decided to include YouTube views in the mix to determine their Hot 100 chart.
“It is important to note that the Billboard charts have recently updated their formula to include YouTube activity,” said the Music Business Journal. “Without this amendment, ‘Harlem Shake’ probably would not have made it very far on Billboard — the song is not played in heavy rotation on radio stations and has not generated major sales.”
However, YouTube does negotiate with artists over pay-per-views, and so Baauer is likely making money even if he isn’t selling records.
“It’s literally unbelievable,” Baauer told Billboard back in February. “It’s amazing to have this track recognized by the world.”
The DJ is working to make sure he doesn’t change who he was before the success of the song. He also continues to work as hard as he ever did, to prove he’s not just a one-hit wonder.
“‘Harlem Shake’ is more than a meme or a hit; it’s a moment of cultural convergence-of hip-hop meeting dance and pop, of consumer technology enabling creativity, of offline socializing leading to online social sharing,” Billboard explains. “It’s the newly of-age and independent millennial showing the world how to dance to his beat, in the form of young Baauer.”
Tune in to the Billboard Music Awards on May 19 at 8/7c on ABC.