Die Antwoord's newfound Internet fame: your love don't pay my server bills


[Photo: Andy Davis for Mahala.]

If you missed this week's nuclear memesplosion of white trash Afrikaans zef-rap Next Level Shit with petite jailbait, Haring-esque wall art, and a Progeria survivor spiritual genius, here is the first BB post, and here is the second. Die Antwoord is the latest of many projects founded by Watkin Tudor Jones (aka "Waddy," aka "Ninja") and his classically-trained partner Yolandi Visser (aka "Yo-landi Vi$$er"). Today, Phillip de Wet of the South African newspaper The Daily Maverick emailed me,

Embarrassingly enough, you turned me onto these guys. As you did with plenty of other people. Does that make their next phase partially your creation? Anyway, that's why I thought I should point you to this piece we published a couple of minutes ago. It's partially a report on Die Antwoord's gig last night, and partially an examination on how their online fame doesn't mean much in the real world. Not yet, anyway. On behalf of many new fans, thanks for plucking them out of obscurity.

Here's a snip from Phillip's article, which is an awesome read—as is their previous coverage of Die Antwoord and related projects, published long before any Boing Boing mentions.

antwoordbth.jpg"Something fucking strange has fucking happened," Jones tells the crowd in Durbanville, explaining that the group's server (which hosts its entire upcoming album free for the listening) had served more than a terabyte of data in the previous two days. "If it was a Souf Efrican server I'd have to sell my father, sell my mother's house," he says, in reference to the high price of bandwidth in South Africa.

The group won't be bearing the cost of its sudden popularity; that is being taken care of by companies like Google. Its music videos are streamed by Google-owned YouTube, and most of the discussion about it happens on Facebook and Twitter or third-party blogs and news websites. Its own server is hosted in the USA, the land of milk and honey and bandwidth so cheap it's nearly free. Its demo CDs are created on a home computer at a price that can be measured in cents per unit, and even its very slick and highly stylised videos were made for next to nothing.

But neither is the group making any money out of the phenomenon. All its music is free for the taking and it has no merchandise to sell. It runs no advertising on its website, and doesn't get a cut of whatever revenues Facebook or Google generate. While millions of people were enjoying their music, they were splitting the door take at the house. At a couple of thousand rands a piece for a couple of hours work that is money many starving artists wouldn't sneer at, but it's hardly the big time.

Die Antwoord pays its dues for the last time, but Internet fame isn't cold, hard cash (The Daily Maverick, and thanks again for turning BB on to the whole thing, Clayton)

Related: more coverage at Mahala. "Die fokken Antwoord is," and earlier, "15 Minutes with a NINJA" and "Max Doesn't Live Here Anymore." Images in this post courtesy of Mahala.