“Once I was 7 years old” – the many lives of songs in the Youtube age

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Since mid-2000’s Youtube.com has been a central part of the musical everyday life of millions of people. On the platform, classics and contemporary hits exist next to an enormous number of related videos, from live performances and alternative versions by the same artist over all sorts of cover versions, remixes, mashups, fanvids, parodies and tutorials for specific instruments to “first reaction”-videos and analytical videos.

Using the song “7 Years” by Danish band Lukas Graham as my case, I will show the variety of versioning practices on Youtube and demonstrate how the different practices

1) contribute to the spreading of the songs and play an important role in the musical landscape,
2) reflect what music matters to people and how they use/relate to it, and thereby
3) challenge traditional theories within popular music studies on the musical work, generally focused on the concept of the original recording.

“7 Years” was a world hit in 2016. It was officially released June 2015 in Scandinavia, but several live versions of song, recorded on smartphones by fans of the band, had been on Youtube since 2013. When the song hit the world charts, the number of versions on Youtube exploded, and by 2020 the weekly number of new videos related to the song uploaded on the site is still about 100. As will be demonstrated, the case of “7 Years” is representative for contemporary major hit songs and makes a good starting point for analyzing the many different ways people use and relate to music in the current digital mediascape.

The study presented is based on web archived materials collected 2015-2020 from a variety of sources, including Youtube, Twitter- and Facebook-data, both structured and harvested by web robots. By using these data, it is possible to reconstruct how the song spread across platforms with Youtube as the musical center.
Periode3 okt. 2020
BegivenhedstitelLike, share and subscribe: Youtube, music and cyberculture before and after the new decade
PlaceringLissabon, PortugalVis på kort
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • Youtube
  • web 2.0
  • streaming
  • musikkultur
  • musikteknologi
  • Lukas Graham
  • popular music
  • populærmusik
  • Netarkivering
  • internethistorie